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Israel and Gaza: The Real Enemies Are Hate and Fear

August 7, 2014

Warning: Rant Ahead.

Trying to write about Israel and Gaza right now is frustrating as hell. What chance is there that anything I say will convince anyone of anything? People would rather isolate themselves in their own little bubbles of propaganda and rhetorical nonsense.

Of course I’m biased in favor of Israel. As you should be too if you support democracy. Tell me where else in the Middle East the values of free speech, religious freedom, and the rights of women are championed as strongly as they are in Israel? (Hint: If you gave any answer that contains the name of any other country in the Middle East, you are wrong.)

Do people throw around terms like apartheid and genocide when talking about the actions of the Israeli government and the IDF because they’re genuinely misinformed, or is it because they’re anti-Jewish bigots reaching for the most inflammatory things they can say? (I say anti-Jewish and not anti-Semitic, because Arabs are also a Semitic people.) South Africans who lived under a real apartheid system should be offended that the term is even mentioned in the context of Israel.

Let’s get a few things straight about what genocide means. If Israel was out to commit genocide, there would have ceased to be any Arabs in Gaza years ago. Hell, the West Bank would have been completely emptied of Arabs as well. It would take maybe a couple of months to wipe out the West Bank; Gaza would be ethnically cleansed in a week. There is absolutely no nation on this planet looking out for the welfare of the Palestinians that has the power to oppose Israel if the Israeli’s actually set out to commit genocide. Do you think the U.S. would lift a finger to save them? The surrounding Arab nations? We’ve all seen how much love they have for Palestinians.

If Israel was attempting genocide, would they be treating wounded Palestinians in Israeli hospitals?

Hamas’s stated purpose is genocide. Their charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Do you think that means something other than the murder of every Jewish man, woman, and child? Hamas is actively trying to get as many non-combatants killed as possible on both sides. Some journalists in Gaza have actually been truthful about this.

While the world is focusing it’s attention on Gaza, ISIL is, by their own declaration, actively pursuing real genocide in Iraq. Where is the righteous anger over the plight of the Yazidis? (And why the hell aren’t the U.S. and NATO doing a damn thing?)

To say that one country should recognize a governing body that’s stated purpose is to destroy them is the height of madness. No, wait, I’m sorry. The height of madness is journalists and a high-ranking U.N. official saying that Israel is committing a war crime by not sharing their military technology with a terrorist organization that’s sworn to kill them all.

What other nation on Earth has to put up with this bullshit?

Then there’s my favorite flavor of stupidity; the people who like to say that Israel is an “illegal country”. Would it convince these brilliant scholars of international law otherwise if it were pointed out to them that Iraq, the oldest nation in the Middle East, was created by the League of Nations in 1920? The League of Nations, a body that officially ceased to exist in 1943. So by that logic, all the nations in the Middle East are outlaws. (And so would be the U.S.A., and along with every nation formed from either revolution or mandate by another nation.)

I am not saying that Israel is without fault in dealing with the Palestinians. Not by any means. You want to see some actual journalism? (I know, it’s a rare thing these days.)

This 2009 article gives a detailed and nuanced description of the IDF’s last military action in Gaza, the Gilad Shalit situation (finally resolved with his release in 2011) and the events leading up to it. It’s long (about 11,000 words; novelette length) but absolutely worth the read for those who desire actual information beyond rhetoric and propaganda.

This more recent Vice article takes a disturbing look at the recent rise of right-wing racism and militant hate among Israeli youth. One thing to keep in mind that’s not addressed in this article, is that today’s Israeli teenagers and IDF soldiers were children growing up during the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005. Somewhere along the way, they’ve just about all been touched by an act of terrorism in the name of Palestine. Unfortunately, that means that many of them aren’t exactly clear-headed and rational when it comes to the idea of making sacrifices for peace.

The IDF’s incursions into Gaza are short-term measures that will ultimately only serve to continue the cycle of violence, unless they are followed with policing and rebuilding. What Gaza needs is a real government, rather than the organized crime family of terrorists (Hamas) that are running it now. Gaza needs a real police force, and economic hope for the future. Keeping Gaza isolated from the world like it has been since 2006 helps no one but the terrorists.

Racism, militant nationalism, and authoritarianism are the real enemies of peace. Propaganda news networks, whether  blathering about imagined genocide, or making claims of oppression by the “liberal media” are all either enablers or supporters of these enemies. If you’re cheering for the deaths of anyone in this conflict, whether soldier or terrorist, you’re fighting against peace and democracy. Hate and fear are the targets that every rational-minded person should be taking aim at.

This rant has been a  public service message. You’re welcome. /rant]

And now for something related to speculative fiction. Over at Lightspeed you can find the excellent short story “Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology” by Theodora Goss. (Both text and audio.) It’s a tale about nations, the idea of nations and nationhood, and our human capacity for self-delusion. Very timely.

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