Thursday, January 1, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister: "There is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza"

Yup. That's right. This is the kind of blank-faced denial of reality one usually hears from tin-pot dictators, but now it's coming from one of the most powerful politicians in the world. Tzipi Livni, despite her reputation as a 'moderate,' has always been a warmonger, but in the context of a barbaric siege and indiscriminate bombing campaign, she has outdone herself.

Lies such as this are a special sort. China Mieville has pointed out that some lies told by the ruling class are simply not meant to be believed. Instead, their purpose is to muddy the waters of debate. Livni doesn't want the argument to be about why Israel is rejecting a humanitarian ceasefire offer, but whether such an offer is needed.

To be clear, Israel is rejecting the ceasefire because the target of this offensive is the civilian population of Gaza. Israeli defense analysts are remarkably frank on this point, comparing "Operation Cast Lead" to "Operation Shock and Awe" in Iraq. One Haaretz analyst was quite blunt about it:

"Like the U.S. assault on Iraq and the Israeli response to the abduction of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser at the outset of the Second Lebanon War (the "night of the Fajr missiles," a reference to the IAF destruction of Hezbollah's arsenal of medium-range Fajr missiles), little to no weight was apparently devoted to the question of harming innocent civilians."
Just as Shock and Awe's purpose was to terrorize the population of Iraq until they understood that resistance was futile, so Operation Cast Lead is designed to punish the population of Gaza until they reject Hamas in favor of leadership more willing to grovel in front of Israel.

Israel's success on this front has been mixed. To be sure, the blockade has reduced the standard of living of Palestinians so drastically that many are inclined to look with favor upon the period of Israeli occupation, when at least there was food. However, the air strikes, and probable ground invasion, increase support for resistance by whatever means necessary and unify the population of the West Bank, under Fatah rule, with that of Gaza.

The siege has already reduced Gaza to a state of near-famine (as Brecht says, famines under capitalism don't just happen; they're organized). The air strikes have crippled government infrastructure and overloaded barely functioning hospitals. A ground invasion will in all probability destroy any significant institution of Palestinian civil society. Given the paucity of Hamas' military ability, if this barbarism has any chance of being halted it's going to come through the actions of people around the world demanding actions like the boycott of all Israeli institutions.