Friday, February 1, 2008

The Great Escape

An article from Salon on the escape from the prison that is Gaza.
America can't deal with the Gaza breakout, because it shows that Gaza is a jail that we own the key to. The crisis undercuts our simplistic narrative about the Middle East. If the noble "war on terrorism" turns out to include keeping a million and a half people locked up indefinitely, it's better not to think about it. The inmates should just return to their cells, behave themselves, and wait for further instructions. If it takes 40 more years for them to get out, so be it.
This is true. Generally, little is said about breach of the border, and what has been said generally misses the point.
The Washington Post ran an editorial that attacked Hamas for derailing the peace process, belittled Palestinian suffering (it referred to a "humanitarian crisis" in scare quotes), scolded Gazans for "blowing up international borders," and concluded by testily demanding that they stop making trouble and wait for the "peace process" to go forward (that is, go back to jail and wait for another few decades). The Congress and the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, ignored the Gaza crisis, or weighed in with predictably pro-Israel statements.
There's more distressing than that.
Even the most progressive candidate, Barack Obama, went out of his way to take Israel's side. In a letter to U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Obama urged the United States not to allow a resolution condemning Israel's illegal collective punishment of the Palestinians to pass unless it also acknowledged Palestinian rocket attacks, which Israel's latest closure was a response to. "Israel is forced to do this," Obama wrote.

Obama's objection to the resolution as one-sided was legitimate -- up to a point. Of course the Palestinian rocket attacks that have killed 18 Israelis in four years are morally indefensible. But as usual with American pronouncements about anything involving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, Obama's letter completely failed to address the context of those attacks, including the harsh Israeli military actions (including extrajudicial executions) in Gaza that have killed more than 816 Gazans, including 379 noncombatants, since January 2006. And, of course, it failed to mention the most crucial fact: Gaza has been under a brutal occupation for decades.

Why is it that every candidate feels the need to prostrate themselves before AIPAC and the other pro-Israeli groups? Frustratingly, these groups have been hostile toward Obama from the beginning, and no amount of pandering will buy them off. It just looks craven. At any rate, the entire article is worth reading.


politics watch said...

Some of it perhaps has a religious tone to it, and I suspect that there is another reason: the lack of either Muslims or a large number of people genuinely concerned with both sides. Like we criticize George Bush for surrounding himself with people who think alike and shut down dissent, so is Washington also populated with people who are more pro-Israel.

sockrateaser said...

I agree. They have a pretty powerful hold on dialogue, at least within the beltway.