18 July 2014, ISRAEL'S GAZA ASSAULT: In the Israeli Government, The Periodic Slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza is called "Mowing the grass,” a chore that frequently needs repeating. But this violence is wearing on the world’s conscience, including moral objections from more and more Jews, observes Lawrence Davidson. As the Israelis once more inflict collective punishment in Gaza (a tactic which happens to constitute a war crime), it is time to consider the mind-set behind their repeated violent and sadistic behavior.
Among the many rationalizations offered by Israeli leaders for their violent behavior is the assertion that the Arabs, and Palestinians in particular, “only understand force.” If you do not use force against them they interpret its absence as a sign of weakness and this only encourages them to stand against the Zionist state.
Israel's notion that the Arabs only understand force is one of the holdover stereotypes of a mostly, but obviously not completely, bygone age of imperialism.
■ Israel launched a large military operation dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” in the Gaza Strip on July 7, and now on 17 July 2014, Israel has commenced a full-scale land war on Gaza. This most recent conflict began about six weeks ago when Israeli forces abducted 17 Palestinian teenage boys in the occupied West Bank. Then, on June 12, three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the southern West Bank; Israel blamed Hamas. After those three youths were found dead, a group of Israelis tortured and burned to death a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. After that, Hamas started launching missiles into Israel.
■ Lop-sided war: Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that the Iron Dome has successfully intercepted virtually all Hamas rockets. Israel’s use of force (over 1200 bombing runs, plus shelling from Israeli tanks, and from Israeli naval warships) greatly exceeds that of the Palestinians, and the asymmetric warfare continues to escalate. Israel’s overwhelming use of military force constitutes collective punishment, which is a war crime. The laws of war, also known as international humanitarian law, are primarily found in the Geneva Conventions.
Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Operation Protective Edge constitutes a deliberate policy to punish the entire population of Gaza. Since the Palestinians concluded a unity agreement between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza in June, Israel has stepped up the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a party, specifically forbids collective punishment.
■ Israel's history of violence: Since coming into existence in 1948, Israel has attacked Palestinian individuals and infrastructure thousands of times. Israeli repeatedly claims to be doing this in self-defense- and to dissuade the Palestinians from future attacks.
The self-defense rationale is deceptive since Israelis have, from the beginning, been acting offensively: most of what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories was taken violently and then ethnically cleansed of most of its Arab inhabitants with the ongoing goal of setting up a religiously exclusive state. Palestinian violence has always been a reaction to Israeli aggression.
■ Some proponents say Israel has repeatedly tried to negotiate while always coming up against Palestinian intransigence. However, if one takes a close and objective look at these efforts at negotiation, one finds that they are facades or false fronts, behind which we find Israeli intransigence. As the liberal Zionist M. J. Rosenberg has pointed out, the Israelis have never negotiated in good faith.
When the Palestinians react to Israel’s bad faith, the Israelis break off negotiations, and blame the Palestinians, Israel then returns to its pattern of violence. In truth, negotiating in good faith would mean compromising Israel’s ambition to settle "all of the land" of Palestine, and that is something the hard-core Zionists will not do. As a consequence it is not the Israelis, but the Palestinians who have lacked a partner who will negotiate responsibly.
■ The Future - "Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu knows that he has Official Washington so deeply in his pocket that he can get away with almost anything including the stealing of Palestinian land and the slaughtering of civilians in Gaza. Whatever his war crimes, Netanyahu will be excused," Marjorie Cohn notes. The Israelis would likely expel or kill a majority of the Palestinians left in their homeland if the World let them. Israel would do this not only to clear the way for Jewish settlement of all of Palestine, but also because it would allow the Israelis to feel psychologically redeemed from the allegedly sinful passivity by the European Jew's of the Holocaust. Some Jews today, it is said, have a feeling of guilty-conviction over this.
The consequences of this state of mind are, of course, catastrophic – first and foremost for the Palestinians, who suffer death and destruction for their justified resistance to oppression. The Zionists see Palestinian resisters (to colonization) as latter-day Nazis., but in truth these "Palestinians resemble the resisters in the Warsaw ghetto". And, if that rings true, then who do the Israelis now resemble?
■ Israel's persecution of the Palestinians has been, are and will continue to be disastrous to the reputation of Jews and Judaism. After all, Israel claims to represent world Jewry. In the Israel-Palestinian conflict, there are now three categories of Jews: a) those who publicly support Israel’s behavior and its rationalizations ; b) those who have publicly taken a stand opposing Israel’s behavior; and c) those who stand aside, and ignore what's going on, and just carry on with their lives.
The last category of "Jews with eyes shut" is the largest, and also most concerning because, unbeknownst to these Jews, their wellbeing is being used falsely to justify the policies of the habitually violent Israeli State - and its racist ambitions.
■ Hope for Jews and Palestinians? There are signs that the "eyes-closed" Jews are gradually "opening their eyes" and becoming conscious of Israel’s crimes. And this is a welcome and necessary beginning. The next question is what actions, if any, will this consciousness bring...