Sunday, December 28, 2008

Olmert has blood on his hands

Israel is threatening to deepen and widen it's campaign into the Gaza strip, mobilizing ground troops for a possible occupation. According to the New York Times, this bombing campaign is Israel's most massive in decades.

What precipitated such a massive retaliation?

Rocket attacks from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns apparently prompted the conservative administration of Ehud Olmert to respond, though those attacks yielded ZERO civilian casualties and few injuries.

Israel's military response has caused the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and prompted Egypt to open its border to help evacuate the wounded.

Here is how the NYT rounds up the international response:

A number of governments and international officials, including leaders of Russia, Egypt, the European Union and the United Nations, condemned Israel’s use of force and also called on Hamas to end the rocket fire. But in strong terms, the Bush administration blamed Hamas for the violence and demanded that it stop firing rockets.

Early Sunday morning in New York, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement expressing concern about the escalation of the conflict and calling on both parties for an immediate end to all violence. The statement came after envoys of the 15-member council met for over four hours in a closed session, Reuters reported.

Just to reiterate, the EU and the UN have condemned Israel's action. Only George Bush stands in solidarity with Mr. Olmert, who resigned this past summer after a disastrous conflict with Lebanon in 2006 and rampant accusation of graft and corruption. (sort of familiar, no?)

Prime Minister Olmert, in another striking similarity to his ally President Bush, will be leaving office shortly. Israeli elections are scheduled for February 10th. It was only one month ago that his own foreign minister called on him to step down immediately.

When Bush leaves Washington DC three weeks from now, Olmert will be deprived of his most loyal friend. While I have no doubt that Barack Obama will maintain partnership with Israel, I do not expect that the Obama administration will signal the same blind approval for such wantonly violent retaliations as President Bush has.

Given that Israel is responding to attacks that caused ZERO casualties, it seems way too reasonable to conclude that Prime Minister Olmert is waging war out of selfish political consideration, manufacturing a conflict crisis that might sandbag foreign minister Livni's chances against hardliner Netanyahu in February's election.

When mainstream American Jews like me immediately leap to conclusions like that, doesn't Israel have a public relations disaster on its hands?

Israeli war hawks have cultivated an alliance with neoconservative Christianists in the United States. That approach has contributed to the inhumane policy that has increasingly placed at risk the sympathies of the 75% of American Jews that have voted liberal in every single election dating back to the 1920s.

That's sad.


Puddinhead said...

There seems to be some question on how "unprovoked" the Israeli action should be considered:

"From January 1 until December 21, Hamas and its allies had launched exactly 1,250 rockets across the border between Gaza and Israel. Then the escalation really started: on Wednesday 70 projectile missiles landed in the Negev and its populated areas. On Thursday, more of the same. On Friday, two Palestinian girls, cousins of 5 and 12 years, were killed by a rocket that was launched in the Strip and landed in the Strip. But these unfortunates were not the targets of fire. It was just another day of blast offs into the Jewish state."

jeffrey said...

While I have no doubt that Barack Obama will maintain partnership with Israel, I do not expect that the Obama administration will signal the same blind approval for such wantonly violent retaliations as President Bush has.

I would be pleasantly surprised if this turns out to be true but expect otherwise.

E said...

You don't think the Obama administration would embrace upon a more prudent approach from Israel?

mominem said...

What approach do you suggest Israel take?

E said...

That's an extremely difficult question to answer.

A lot of people are saying that the real issue facing Israel is not Hamas at all. Instead, they're saying that Israel's inability to close West Bank Jewish settlements is the biggest obstacle to progress in hitting peace plan benchmarks. That would take some sort of outside (US and EU) leadership to negotiate.

But Israel's policy toward Hamas and Gaza certainly doesn't help matters and could be more easily recast as a strategy instead of a tactic.

The biggest reason for the ascendancy of Hamas has been the horrendous living conditions imposed on everyday Palestinian people by the Israeli economic policy, etc. When Israeli blockades cause food shortages, Palestinians don't blame Hamas, they blame the Israeli blockades. Hezbollah became powerful in Lebanon because they provided better services to their people than the secular government ever did. The same thing happened with ultraconservative elements in Algeria.

When Palestinian civilians die from Israeli bombings, Hamas is there to help clean up. That gives Hamas a clear moral high ground in the eyes of Palestinian people. That cycle needs to be broken.

jeffrey said...

No, I don't. I think that Obama... like any US President... will continue to enthusiastically support whatever Israel says it wants.

But we'll see....

Hey... check it out! This is a post about happenings in the Mediterranean/Mid-East region of the world and my comment "word verification" puzzle spells out "fetas" Kinda sorta neat... in a stupid way... oh never mind.

mominem said...

Hamas has also been a provocateur. When Israel gave Gaza back, Hamas used it as a base for military operations, not a base to prove that the Palestinians could govern themselves.

Puddinhead said...

Of course, there was already a "Palestinian State" in place right after the creation of Israel...but it was almost immediately occupied by Jordan and Egypt to use as a staging area for the Arab nations' highly talked-about move to "drive Israel into the sea". Israel then moved to occupy the West Bank and Gaza. Of course they had to go through all of the Arab tanks and armies gathered at their borders in order to do it...

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