Gaza Offensive, Day 12

January 7th, 2008

In the middle of the Gaza assault, my aunt forwards a chain email from the Israeli embassy (http://www.israelemb.org/index.htm) asking recipients “to promote Israel at this time.”

Yaniv responds:

Dear aunt,

“Promoting” Israel should not be the goal of anyone, especially during such a revolting and senselessly violent moment in its history. The goal, as always, must be peace and security for ALL people who live in Israel and Palestine, not just one side. Be a promoter of peace and justice rather than a promoter of thuggery.

You should know better because you actually read Israeli papers and writers, where the unsavory details of this mess are printed at length.

For example, see Avi Shlaim… http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine
and Daniel Levy… http://www.prospectsforpeace.com/2009/01/_on_day_10_of.html

Stop excusing this violence or you are just as much a terrorist as those you claim as enemies.

Love,
Yaniv

My aunt responds:

My dear nephew,

Right now the tragedy of the Palestinian people is Hamas. It is absolutely horrible what they did and are still doing. Instead of building schools and seeking peace, they turned Gaza into an Iranian zone, using women and children for their own manipulations. Look at how they are treating their own people now during the war.

This has nothing to do with the fact that even though I supported the operation in the beginning, I do think it should stop immediately. Its awful and my heart goes to the unarmed people in Gaza. I sit in front of the TV and cry every night seeing the pain and suffering on their side.

Its hard to express these things in an email and in English. I know you think differently – and I love you too.
Your aunt

Yaniv responds:

Dear aunt,

With all due respect, the tragedy right now for the Palestinians is not Hamas, it is the IDF and all apologists for Israeli violence. More than three hundred women and children have been killed BY ISRAEL. And all this death is completely unnecessary because the whole premise of the invasion is based on lies.

This is not radical leftist talk. These arguments are taken directly from all those Israeli government officials who knew beforehand that the only possible outcome of this invasion is to gain another ceasefire on slightly more favorable terms. It is based on all those Israeli arguments about how this invasion was needed most by Livni and Barak so they could save their electoral chances against Netanyahu and his fascist buddies. It is based on the well-recognized fact around the world that the ceasefire was working, that is was Israel that violated it first by not opening up border crossings as required and later by infiltrating Gaza in November and killing 6 Hamas men. It is based on the widely discussed fact that Israel used the 6 month ceasefire to plan the details of this invasion. And it is based on the obvious fact that killing Hamas civilian policemen, bombing government buildings, and bombing UN schools has absolutely nothing to do with preventing rocket fire, but has to do with a goal of regime change.

(More on this can be found at http://justworldnews.org/archives/003312.html)

Everyone knew, since before the invasion, that an agreed ceasefire was the only way to stop the rockets. And yet Israel invaded, bombed, murdered the imprisoned Palestinian population anyway. Now there are over 300 dead civilians and another 1500 wounded children and women. Israel had a choice, which it understood clearly beforehand. Yet because of narrow electoral self-interest, it chose instead to commit repeated war crimes for the last 12 days.

As an Israeli (indeed as any human on earth), it should be painful to sit and watch the senseless murder you are inflicting on another population. The fault is yours, and ours.

Love,
Yaniv

My aunt responds:

Nivale,

Reading your arguments, it seems like the only reason Israel started this war was to kill civilians and for its politicians to gain electoral advantage. If you really believe this was the intention, you don’t understand the Israeli mentality at all. You completely ignore the need to destroy the massive weapons that had accumulated during the ceasefire, the 300 smuggling tunnels, the Iranians advisers, and a whole military machine that starts small, but will one day put the whole country of Israel in danger. Slowly but surely (the same as in the north with Hezbollah) this will happen, so we need to find ways now to ensure it will not happen again.

Why wouldn’t Hamas at this time, if they are such a noble organization that cares about the future of its people, why wouldn’t they come out and say they accept the existence of the state of Israel, say they would like put their weapons aside, that they will never shoot at civilians, as long as a diplomatic road will starts, etc.? Maybe the Israelis are crazy… but then why doesn’t the other side use a different, more peaceful strategy? Why has this never happened? They always use the same wrong and violent strategy that brings them nowhere.

Why are they shooting today from Lebanon? Also because of the occupation?

Love
Me

Yaniv responds:

Dearest aunt,

I do not believe Israel has the goal of killing civilians; that is not at all what I am saying. However, I do believe that Israeli policymakers, military brass, and citizens do not value Palestinian life sufficiently. And I do believe very strongly that the war was started first and foremost because of Barak’s and Livni’s electoral calculations. This is not an extreme position, but one that has been discussed for weeks in all major Israeli papers, since before the truce even formally ended.

Another very commonly discussed point in the Israeli papers for the last month has been the idea that Israel would not be able to end rocket fire through any military incursion, nor would it be able to stop weapon smuggling. Instead, the main goal, again widely discussed in the Israeli press, was to inflict a major blow against Hamas, which would improve the terms on which a new ceasefire was agreed. Moreover, given the choice of targets once the attacks began (on Hamas civilian police, on government buildings, civilian infrastructure, etc), it became clear immediately that Israel was trying to destroy not just Hamas’ military capability, but Hamas itself. Livni herself admitted this a few days ago when she said Israel cannot let Hamas stay in power. These ideas are not just my opinion. They come directly from the mouths of your leaders and from the mainstream majority of Israeli analyses, as expressed on the editorial pages of Haaretz, Yediot, etc.

Today we learn of a secondary objective of the Gaza assault. According to Amos Harel of Haaretz, a senior IDF officer “admitted Tuesday that the army’s secondary objective was to restore the serious blow dealt to its self confidence after the 2006 loss of the Second Lebanon War.” Think about the ethical significance of this statement carefully, please.

I understand Israeli collective psychology better than you think, in part because I have not gone wholesale through the indoctrination programs that all Israelis typically do growing up in Israel, in the military, as a population of reservists. I understand clearly that Israelis are too inclined to think there is a military solution to everything, that Palestinians are only free from contempt when they are completely docile and put Israeli national interests before their own, and that there is a good and bad side, with Israel firmly and self-evidently on the good, moral side. I understand Israelis are suspicious of the motivations of every single Arab, indeed every single person on earth, but not of their own corrupt, violent, and power hungry leaders. And I understand perfectly that challenging their own perceptions of righteousnous is the most difficult thing in the world because it would mean a whole lot of shit from Israel’s past and present is suddenly, earthshatteringly incriminating.

Make no mistake about what I am saying. There are war criminals that are a part of Hamas. But there are many war criminals all over Israel’s government and society.

In the long arc of history (to paraphrase MLK Jr), all war criminals will lose and all those who advocated peace, justice, and security for all people will win. Always.

Love,
Yaniv

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