I have been obsessed with the situation in Gaza since the embargo began a few months ago and even more so the past week or so since the genocide began. The most common misconception among the people who disagree with me has been that since I am against the actions Israel has been taking, I must be pro-Hamas; this is bullshit. Things are not always that black and white- if I am against something, it doesn’t mean that I am for its opposite. I was strongly against John McCain, but that didn’t mean I was a fan of Barrack Obama. I am for human beings to have food to eat, a shelter over their heads, an education, and the ability to live a life in which their country is not occupied. I am against the fact that the Israeli government, with the help of the United States, has been denying the Palestinians these basic rights for the past sixty years. I can understand the need of Hamas to fight more than I can understand the Israeli army completely destroying the way of life of an entire people, but that does not mean I am pro-Hamas.
As I have said dozens of times and will probably say dozens more, I do not support the firing of (decade old) rockets into residential sections of Israel and I think if this is happening unprovoked it deserves some sort of response. The reason why Hamas feels the need to shoot rockets is because – even during the cease-fire – foreigners are occupying their country. Hamas is firing rockets because their people have nothing to eat, nothing to drink, no medical supplies, and hardly any educational system; most of which is the fault of the occupation and embargo by Israel (with huge support by the United States). I understand that things are complicated and that Israel feels the need to respond. I have never been military minded, nor have I studied the art of war, but I am thinking that there has to be a way to deal with the rocket problem that doesn’t involve the killing of innocent people and the destruction of a country and its people. I am greatly disturbed that Israel is not choosing to seek this solution, but rather is choosing to use weapons that dwarf anything any Palestinian has ever had her or his hands on to commit genocide. As if that isn’t bad enough, Chris Floyd points out that the Israeli’s are now (as they have done in the past, including two years ago in Lebanon) using chemical weapons.
The Israeli military is reportedly using napalm-like white phosphorus shells in its all-out attack on Gaza, according to the conservative Times of London. The phosphorus in the smoke-emitting shells causes agonizing, unquenchable burns, sometimes searing flesh right down to the bone.
These savage tools of terror are “legal” when used as smokescreens to mask military operations, although their use as an offensive weapon is war crime. This is a rather ludicrous distinction when the shells are fired into heavily populated civilian areas, exploding and spraying phosphorus in all directions. Anyone who orders their use on cities and refugee camps knows with iron certainty that civilians will be burned, maimed and killed by this chemical weapon. That is to say, they know they will be murdering and mutilating innocent people in the most gruesome manner — and they give the order anyway.
I try to picture myself as a Palestinian who lives in the Gaza strip and is completely against the methods that Hamas is using. I see Israel’s occupation as a necessary evil and their recent invasion as something that will make it easier for me to be free. Then, while walking down the street I see an Israeli plane drop phosphorus shells on a university dorm building. I see dozens of innocent students running into the streets screaming with their flesh burning off. Something tells me that instead of making me more supportive of Israel, this may have the opposite effect. It may cause me to pick up a gun and fight for my country, it may help me sympathize with Hamas a little bit more, but it certainly would not make me think of how lucky I am to be rescued by the wonderful Israeli army.
If this situation was simply the Israeli military fighting against a militant group in Palestine, I might not feel such a need to get involved. However, the country that is being armed to the teeth to fight a clandestine group that has decades old weapons, is being armed by my country- the country that I pay taxes in. I feel that it is my duty to put pressure on my fellow citizens and representatives to end this nonsense. Just two months ago, citizens in this country came out in record numbers to elect Barack Obama as our next president. They did it because Obama promised change, he promised to listen to the people that got him elected, and he made it seem like he could change the face of politics. I wrote blog after blog, had conversation after conversation, and posted article after article trying to inform people that he was not the person who they thought- he would not pull troops out of Iraq, he would increase the bombing in Afghanistan, he would possibly invade other sovereign nations, and he would continue to help arm Israel. I hate to say I told you so, but has anyone heard from the President Elect recently? Simon Tisdall wrote an article in which he shared my opinion; Obama is losing ground among Arab nations because he is in Hawaii playing golf instead of doing what he should be. It has been claimed by many – including Obama himself – that we have only one president at a time and right now it is George W Bush. Obama claims that he cannot say or do anything because it would be disrespectful to the sitting president, however he has no problem holding almost daily press conferences to discuss how he will handle the economic situation, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and his opinions on what happened in Mumbai.
Finally, if you get a chance you should read this article in the Socialist Worker; it is a bit sarcastic in tone, but it really gets the point across about what’s happening. It talks about how backwards the US and Israeli press is and features some great quotes by high government officials blaming the Palestinians for what they are going through.