Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Joe Did What? Signs of Spring

I can't fault the movement in Michigan's Democratic primary tomorrow, mostly I think of Arab Americans but also of other Muslim and/or Black and/or young people, to vote for uncommitted delegates instead of the Biden slate, in protest against Biden's perceived lean toward Israel in the Gaza conflict—I mean, I can and will complain that they're reading Biden wrong, but I think it's right for them to communicate the distress on behalf of the Palestinians in Palestine as well as the Palestinians in Dearborn.

We've been told repeatedly, and rightly, about how traumatized Israelis have been by the horrible events of October 7, but I'm not sure how much the broader US public is getting on what's been happening to Arabs in Gaza and the Occupied Territories of the West Bank since October 8, but the number of killed in Gaza is now approaching 30,000, that's well over one out of every 100 people, not to mention those starving and killed by the lack of medical care and polluted drinking water.

The 1200 dead of October 7 were killed in unspeakably disgusting ways. I don't usually use the term "barbaric" because I think it's unfair to barbarians to suggest they are somehow similar to Colonel Chivington's force at the Sand Creek Massacre of around 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho people in 1864

Before Chivington and his men left the area, they plundered the teepees and took the horses. After the smoke cleared, Chivington's men came back and killed many of the wounded. They also scalped many of the dead, regardless of whether they were women, children, or infants. Chivington and his men dressed their weapons, hats, and gear with scalps and other body parts, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia. 

but I understand why it's being used. At the same time, the ultra-sophisticated high-tech murder inflicted on Gazans by the Israel Defense Force, AI targeting and pushbutton bombing, deals out incalculably greater quantities of destruction and death—who's better?—while in the West Bank, IDF troops accompany the inhabitants of illegal settlements in pretty barbaric missions of destruction against the farmers whose families have lived there for centuries:

Since October 7th, when Hamas-led fighters broke through the fence on Gaza’s border with Israel and killed some twelve hundred people and took some two hundred and fifty hostages, attacks near Qaryut have become routine. Settlers have burned cars and houses, blockaded roads, damaged electricity networks, seized farmland, severed irrigation lines, attacked people in their fields and olive groves, and killed, all without repercussion. Ma’amar told me that a thousand acres had been cut off from Qaryut. The U.N. has recorded five hundred and seventy-three attacks by settlers in the West Bank since the war began, with Israeli forces accompanying them half the time. At least nine people have been killed by settlers, and three hundred and eighty-two have been killed by Israeli forces. Five Israelis have been killed in the West Bank, at least one of whom was a civilian.

Americans need to understand that the Palestinians are traumatized too! Ask any Palestinian or Lebanese or Syrian in Dearborn and they can tell you the names of some of the victims—they know the families. 

And Americans need to understand that this isn't the only way or the best way for Israel to "protect itself", which it has an unquestioned right to do; the October 7 massacres couldn't have taken place if  IDF had been monitoring the Gaza fence properly, and they could have protected Israel against future attacks by bringing the monitoring back to standard on October 8. Instead they embarked on this project of killing Gazans for the crime of being "civilian shields".  Israel could justly have treated the Hamas organization as a criminal gang. Instead they chose to treat the gang as a legitimate government and went to war (raising the Hamas approval rating in Gaza overnight from 38% to something in the 90s). 

We'll see how big the protest vote in Michigan is. I kind of hope it's significant, showing a broader swell of anger at the war than just among Muslims, but I don't know (NPR interviewing young Michiganders this morning on the primary, including students at Wayne State in Detroit, asked zero questions about Gaza, and none of the repondents seem to have volunteered anything either).

Meanwhile, President Biden took an interview on Late Night With Seth Myers, and he and Myers went out for ice cream after the taping, and told reporters in the ice cream shop that he thinks he's arranged for a 40-day ceasefire:

"We're close," President Biden told reporters in New York on Monday. "We're not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we'll have a ceasefire."

The agreement, if there is one, would involve improved supplies of aid to Gaza, release of some prisoners held in Israeli jails and some hostages held in Gaza, at a ratio of ten to one and cessation of military operations by the IDF during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins when the new moon is sighted on March 9 or 10. Which would explain why Biden's dating is so specific: Monday, March 4, giving exactly a week to put everything into place before the fast starts. 

"Ramadan's coming up and there has been an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in activities during Ramadan as well, in order to give us time to get all the hostages out," Mr Biden said [on the Myers show].

"Us"? Would the US be taking an active role?

The agreement is drafted by France, we're told, and Reuters reports that Hamas is studying it; Hamas denies to BBC that it has signed on to any agreement, and even that it has received the current proposal.

Weird but significant detail from Washington Post: the Palestinian government has resigned, en masse. That's the prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, and the whole cabinet, people of whose existence I don't recall ever having read, though it's obvious they must exist, now I think about it.

“The next phase and its challenges require a new government and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in the Gaza Strip, national unity and the urgent need for achieving inter-Palestinian consensus,” Shtayyeh said.

If you put it together with the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel (who could include politicians captured during the Second Intifada, like Marwan Barghouti), the implication would be that the resignation is making room for the appointment of a new government in which some released prisoners could be serving as ministers. That would be the reason for the Hamas spokesman to sound spiteful ("The priority for us in Hamas is not the exchange of detainees, but the cessation of the war").

This could really be happening this spring: an impetus to peace that the Netanyahu government and the Hamas leadership are unable to resist!

Cross-posted at the Substack.

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