Gaza on my mind

17 Nov

One of the many fascinating aspects of discussing the Middle East conflict with people is the fixity of positions. A red mist seems to come down on people. They are either decidedly pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli and seem immune to argument. Discussing the Middle East with someone resembles a First World War battle: firing from fixed positions according to a pre-arranged fire-plan. There is little give and take, just the trading of stock phrases and positions.
But perhaps this fixity of positions is entirely justified because the issue itself seems immune from rational argument, common sense and humanity. This is not to say that the antagonists and their supporters are without rationality, sense or humanity. Instead, it is to point to the central fact of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: power matters and everything else pales. It is supremely depressing to reach such a realist assessment but the current assault on Gaza, and the wider conflict within which the assault on Gaza must be viewed, underscores that those with power dominate and those without suffer.
It also underscores that Responsibility to Protect, the International Criminal Court and other apparent ‘advances’ in relation to human rights matter not a jot when compared with power. Is there any point to international human rights law when we see such egregious flouting of human rights by both Hamas and Israel? The plain and simple fact is that Israel is able to pound Gaza because it receives political cover (as well as military and financial support) from the United States. The US has stopped the UN Security Council reaching any resolution on Gaza.
A ‘solution’ to the Groundhog Day politics of Israel/Palestine will not come about until or if the disappointing President Obama uses leverage over Israel. Or if Russia and China become activist on the issue (which isn’t going to happen). At the minute Israel has carte blanche, and that means more dead children and misery. Israel will decide on a ceasefire when it assesses that the ‘kill ratio’ is sufficiently in its favour. During the last assault on Gaza it was about 100:1. And we know what will happen after that: Hamas will replenish its missile stocks, lick its wounds and the cycle of provocation and over-reaction will begin all over again.
The recognition of the supremacy of realism must not be mistaken as some sort of argument that essentializes Israelis as being bad. Just look around the Arab region: it is a political sewer in which rulers dominate and everyone outside of the tent gets nothing. If the shoe were on the other foot (that is, if the US backed a small Arab state in a hostile Jewish region) we would expect this state to behave as abominably as Israel.
Given the dominance of realism (and indeed, listen to Israeli and Arab policy analysts and they use very realist language like ‘deterrence’ and ‘leverage’) what can be done? Well, I think sane heads have to call it as it is: there is little point in sticking plaster ceasefires if the fundamentals are not dealt with. These are the Israeli-imposed apartheid, chronic insecurity among virtually all in the region, the hostility in the region towards Israel, and an international system that is content with apartheid. That means we must stop once and for all talking about a ‘peace process’ and other claptrap. We must speak truth to power and call it as it is: a disgrace to humanity. Apartheid was wrong in South Africa and it is wrong here. The failure to recognize the reality of Israel is idiotic, just as the reasons to deny Palestinian statehood defy logic.
The primary responsibility for the dead children lies with the Hamas and IDF commanders. But the system that supports them, and here we must look to Washington, London and elsewhere, is not without responsibility.

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One Response to “Gaza on my mind”

  1. richardjacksonterrorismblog 18/11/2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Good call, Roger.

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