[A must-read post from Emily L. Hauser. Her latest at The Daily Beast is a must-read, also. -ABL]
I am beside myself over the upsurge in violence between Israel and Gaza.
Israel says its strikes have been surgical and that it’s targeting terrorists — which is to say: Legitimate military targets, not civilians.
Given that the Kirya, one of Israel’s largest military bases, is located in the heart of Tel Aviv — literally downtown, surrounded by offices and businesses and schools and parks and vital roadways and apartment buildings and cultural institutions and falafel stands and kiosks and kids on bikes — I have one question:
If a Palestinian whose family has been killed in an Israeli airstrike bombs the Kirya — we’ll be cool with that, right?
Because, I mean, after all, what is Israel doing, hiding all those grunt soldiers and high ranking commanders and intelligence gathering infrastructure and so on among a civilian population? Why is Israel using Israeli civilians as a human shield?
Ok, my one question is really this: What happens if we switch the nouns around today?
What if this showed a “surgical strike” on an Israeli target?
What if this were on a street in Tel Aviv?
What if the place names were reversed in this snippet from the New York Times?
Health officials in Gaza quoted by news agencies said the Israeli attacks had killed at least nine people and wounded at least 40.
What if the toddler pictured here [graphic] were Israeli?
What if the shoe were on the other foot?
If Palestinians had somehow managed to get past one of the world’s mightiest military institutions and set off this kind of mayhem in Israel, killing (among, it should be noted, other children) an 11 month old — the world would be up in arms. Israel and America’s Jews would be rending their clothes. Fury and heartbreak and statements of support would be flooding the airwaves — and rightfully so.
But no. It’s just the Palestinians. Just the Palestinians in Gaza, no less. So the targeted assassination of (yes) a pretty awful person in the heart of a residential neighborhood, the deaths of civilians, the deaths of children, the relentless and endless pounding by air and sea of 1.7 million people who literally cannot even flee because Israel has them physically penned in on all sides (save for one small crossing into Egypt) — we’re really not terribly fussed about that. Because some of 1.7 million people have fired rockets into civilians areas of Israel.
Those rockets are horrifying, and living with that sort of fear (something I remember from the first Iraq War and from years of suicide bombings) is genuinely terrible. I ache for the people hiding in shelters now, told by their government that there will be no school or work in the days to come, because their government knows perfectly well what the consequences of bombing the hell out of Gaza will be.
But as Larry Derfner wrote yesterday (before it had gotten this hellish, back when it was merely really bad) in a piece entitled “The lesson Israel refuses to learn on Gaza”:
There is a proven road to security for the people of the Negev [Israel’s south] – a total end to Israeli rule over the people who are shooting at them. But nobody of influence in this country will suggest taking that road for fear of being derided as a pacifist, if not an anti-Semite, by the public, politicians and media. Most Israelis, especially in the government and army, are talking very hawkishly. They seem to think they’re keeping faith with the residents of the south who are under fire. In fact, by closing ranks on this continual march of folly, they are dooming the residents of the south, and not just them.
If you want to know more about what’s going on, I would recommend either the Palestinian Maan News Agency or the Israeli HaAretz. Both will be flawed, as all human endeavors are, but both do a pretty good job of reporting the facts from within a particular society.