Sunday, July 13, 2014

West of Eden: The situation

Corsola Evolutions. By Tariq SP at DeviantArt.

I used to write a good deal about the Israel-Palestine situation, and I don't much any more partly because I don't have anything new to say about it and lots of better-informed people (many of them blogrolled here—I just added Mondoweiss) have lots. On the latest attempt to maintain Gaza as an Israel-run prison camp without any guards*, the most recommendable thing I've seen lately is (no surprise) by Professor Juan Cole:

The Israeli right wing will likely fail in its attempt to subject Gaza and uproot radicalism there, since the radicalism grows out of the conditions that Israel imposes on the Palestinians. And, it is incurring increasing ill will with its episodic lawn-mowing, since the outside world is unwilling to accept that it was necessary to kill all those women and children and soccer spectators with aerial and naval bombardment.
One of the few bright spots in the whole ongoing crisis is just that; that the outside-world attitude is really changing, as witnessed by Philip Weiss in an interview on WNYC radio's On the Media noting the amazing new willingness of US broadcast media to open up to Palestinian points of view that started with 15-year-old Tampa kid Tarek Abu Khdeir, cousin of the murdered Muhammad Abu Khdeir, himself beaten unrecognizable by Israeli police, and his mother Suha, appearing on ABC News.**

For Weiss himself, as a notable progressive non-Zionist Jew, to appear on an NPR-distributed program was a startling development in its own right, in my view; there's some extremely shocked commentary from members of the New Jersey totebag contingent who believe that's pretty much the same thing as denying the Holocaust. They're unready as yet to be told that Palestinian people could possibly have points of view, let alone that public radio could run a segment acknowledging it without devoting at least equal time to acknowledging the Israeli government. They didn't seem to notice that the show is called "On the Media" for a reason and the story wasn't even about Palestinians but about ABC. ("But why don't you ever represent the anti-ABC view, huh? Answer that!")

But the signs seem to be that these people and their pernicious influence are starting to dwindle away. Congress, of course, will be the last to know about it.

One thing I wouldn't hesitate to write about is still unindicted governor Christopher Christopher Christie pontificating on who's to blame for the ongoing slaughter in Gaza: President Obama, of course.
"I think the unrest you see in the Middle East is caused in some measure, not completely, but in some measure, by the fact that this president has not acted in a decisive and consistent way," Christie said.
"He draws red lines then doesn’t enforce them; he doesn’t stand up for our friends in a vocal and forceful way," he said. "Those are things that he should be focused on, trying to bring stability to that region by having America be a forceful voice in favor of a Democracy like Israel and be condemning, in the strongest terms and in actions, the things that are being done by Hamas against Israel."
Leaving aside the Syrian chemical weapons Red Line, which the president successfully dealt with by means of diplomacy instead of bombing, what exactly does Christie think he ought to be doing, and why? What exactly would being more "vocal and forceful" have accomplished in the current situation? Would it have made whoever is putting those rockets together in northern Gaza more afraid than they already are of the IDF? For those from the Hamas party, would they be more weakened by harsh words from Obama than they are by the loss of support in recent years from Egypt, Syria, and Iran? Would being nasty to Khaled Meshal (maybe Christie could call him an "idiot" or a "stupid jerk") do anything to bring down Israel's casualty rate from zero to—um...

Or would reminding Netanyahu that he has our total support no matter what he does encourage him not to invade Gaza? I'm not seeing this at all.

On the subject of our Evolver-in-Chief himself, I remain convinced that the conservatives really are, in a sense, right about him: I mean that he doesn't accept the unquestionability of the Likud line, that he'd like to feel free, at least, to take a more balanced approach to the Palestine question, to be able to threaten Israel with the loss of that $4 billion a year that they calmly accept from our country even as the Likud government continues to undermine the peace process and insult the people who try to make it work. His pragmatic arguments for peace, especially that if Israel doesn't make a deal with Palestinians it can't in the long run survive, may not be very pacifist or beautiful, but they are true, and I imagine he really means them.

But he's not going to speak openly about it unless we're there preparing the way for him, as for marriage equality, or immigration reform, or any other issue where he needs to be pushed to be his best self. We can't expect him to evolve on his own; I mean, maybe by the time he's been an ex-president as long as Jimmy Carter... But in the meantime, American public opinion really is moving on this, sick of Likud whining and bad-mouthing as well as the video of the devastation they are causing; and that's a little something to be hopeful about.
Image somehow via Business Insider.
*So that it can say "Israel unilaterally withdrew" from occupying the territory in 2005, giving it to its own people as an outright gift, without mentioning that Gaza has been under an unforgiving blockade from all sides the whole time, its people entirely dependent on Israel for the ability to import and export food and other necessities, travel, obtain medical care, even go fishing. 

**For the record, I unreservedly condemn the cruel killings of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrach, for which I cannot imagine any justification. Of course I also reject Prime Minister Netanyahu's unsupported assertion that the young men were murdered by a political party and the equally unjustifiable collective punishment campaign that has followed it.

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