The 14 Words

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Israel's Gaza policy explained


On the 7 August 2014 edition of 'Democracy Now,' (22 minutes in) Professor Emeritus at M.I.T., Noam Chomsky, described Israel’s 29-day offensive in Gaza thus:
"It’s a hideous atrocity, sadistic, vicious, murderous, totally without any credible pretext. It’s another one of the periodic Israeli exercises in what they delicately call 'mowing the lawn.' That means shooting fish in the pond, to make sure that the animals stay quiet in the cage that you’ve constructed for them, after which you go to a period of what’s called 'ceasefire,' which means that Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, while Israel continues to violate it. Then it’s broken by an Israeli escalation, Hamas reaction. Then you have period of 'mowing the lawn.' This one is, in many ways, more sadistic and vicious even than the earlier ones...
Hamas had observed the previous ceasefire for 19 months. The previous episode of 'mowing the lawn' was in November 2012. There was a ceasefire. The ceasefire terms were that Hamas would not fire rockets, what they call rockets, and Israel would move to end the blockade and stop attacking what they call militants in Gaza. Hamas lived up to it. Israel concedes that.
In April of this year, an event took place which horrified the Israeli government: A unity agreement was formed between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and Fatah. Israel has been desperately trying to prevent that for a long time... Israel was furious. They got even more upset when the U.S. more or less endorsed it...
What was used as a pretext was the brutal murder of three settler teenagers. There was a pretense that they were alive, though they knew they were dead. They blamed it right away on Hamas. They have yet to produce a particle of evidence.. the killers were probably from a kind of a rogue clan in Hebron, the Qawasmeh clan... They’ve been a thorn in the sides of Hamas for years. They don’t follow their orders.
But anyway, that gave the opportunity for a rampage in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of people, re-arresting many who had been released, mostly targeted on Hamas. Killings increased. Finally, there was a Hamas response: the so-called rocket attacks. And that gave the opportunity for 'mowing the lawn' again...
For over 20 years, Israel has been dedicated, with U.S. support, to separating Gaza from the West Bank. That’s in direct violation of the terms of the Oslo Accord 20 years ago, which declared that the West Bank and Gaza are a single territorial entity whose integrity must be preserved. But for rogue states, solemn agreements are just an invitation to do whatever you want. So Israel, with U.S. backing, has been committed to keeping them separate...

Israel is systematically driving Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley, sinking wells, building settlements. They first call them military zones, then put in settlements—the usual story. That would mean that whatever cantons are left for Palestinians in the West Bank, after Israel takes what it wants and integrates it into Israel, they would be completely imprisoned. Gaza would be an outlet to the outside world, so therefore keeping them separate from one another is a high goal of policy, U.S. and Israeli policy. And the unity agreement threatened that.
Threatened something else Israel has been claiming for years. One of its arguments for kind of evading negotiations is: How can they negotiate with the Palestinians when they’re divided? Well, OK, so if they’re not divided, you lose that argument...
In February 2011, the U.N. Security Council considered a resolution which called for—which called on Israel to terminate its expansion of settlements. Notice that the expansion of settlements is not really the issue. It’s the settlements. The settlements, the infrastructure development, all of this is in gross violation of international law. That’s been determined by the Security Council, the International Court of Justice. Practically every country in the world, outside of Israel, recognizes this. But this was a resolution calling for an end to expansion of settlements, official U.S. policy. What happened? Obama vetoed the resolution. That tells you something...

Obama’s latest condemnation of the recent, as he puts it, violence on all sides was accompanied by sending more military aid to Israel... the military aid continues, the economic aid continues, the diplomatic protection continues, the ideological protection continues...
When you pursue a policy of repression and expansion over security, there are things that are going to happen. There will be moral degeneration within the country. There will be increasing opposition and anger and hostility among populations outside the country. You may continue to get support from dictatorships and from, you know, the U.S. administration, but you’re going to lose the populations. And that has a consequence.

You could predict—in fact, I and others did predict back in the '70s—that, just to quote myself, 'those who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration, international isolation, and very possibly ultimate destruction'...
The United Nations, every country in the world, even the United States, regards Israel as the occupying power in Gaza for a very simple reason: They control everything there. They control the borders, the land, sea, air. They determine what goes into Gaza, what comes out. They determine how many calories Gazan children need to stay alive, but not to flourish. That’s occupation, under international law, and no one questions it, outside of Israel. Even the U.S. agrees, their usual backer...

As for wanting peace, look back at that so-called withdrawal. Notice that it left Israel as the occupying power. By 2005, Israeli hawks, led by Ariel Sharon, pragmatic hawk, recognized that it just makes no sense for Israel to keep a few thousand settlers in devastated Gaza and devote a large part of the IDF, the Israeli military, to protecting them... Made a lot more sense to take those settlers from their subsidized settlements in Gaza, where they were illegally residing, and send them off to subsidized settlements in the West Bank, in areas that Israel intends to keep—illegally...

It was decided to construct what’s sometimes called a 'national trauma.' So a trauma was constructed, a theater... So you could have little boys, pictures of them pleading with the Israeli soldiers, 'Don’t destroy my home!' and then background calls of 'Never again.' That means 'Never again make us leave anything,' referring to the West Bank primarily. And a staged national trauma.
What made it particularly farcical was that it was a repetition of what even the Israeli press called 'National Trauma ’82,' when they staged a trauma when they had to withdraw from Yamit, the city they illegally built in the Sinai...
And I’ll repeat what Weissglas said. Recall, he was the negotiator with the United States, Sharon’s confidant. He said the purpose of the withdrawal is to end negotiations on a Palestinian state and Palestinian rights. This will end it. This will freeze it, with U.S. support. And then comes imposition of the diet on Gaza to keep them barely alive, but not flourishing, and the siege.
Within weeks after the so-called withdrawal, Israel escalated the attacks on Gaza and imposed very harsh sanctions, backed by the United States. The reason was that a free election took place in Palestine, and it came out the wrong way. Well, Israel and the United States, of course, love democracy, but only if it comes out the way they want. So, the U.S. and Israel instantly imposed harsh sanctions. Israeli attacks, which really never ended, escalated. Europe, to its shame, went along.
Then Israel and the United States immediately began planning for a military coup to overthrow the government. When Hamas pre-empted that coup, there was fury in both countries.

The sanctions and military attacks increased.
And then we’re on to what we discussed before: periodic episodes of 'mowing the lawn'...
For Israel, with U.S. backing, the current situation is a kind of a win-win situation. If Hamas agrees to extend the ceasefire, Israel can continue with its regular policies, which I described before: taking over what they want in the West Bank, separating it from Gaza, keeping the diet and so on.
If Hamas doesn’t accept the ceasefire, Netanyahu can make another speech...
For 40 years, the United States has been almost unilaterally backing Israeli rejectionism, refusal to entertain the overwhelming international consensus on a two-state settlement."
Professor Chomsky is Jewish.


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