Tag Archives: Israeli assault

In defence of Hamas

It can be all too easy, wrapped up as many of us are in the warm glow of the Commonwealth Games and the referendum campaign, to ignore the terrible slaughter that is continuing in Gaza. For weeks now the Israelis have been pounding that tiny enclave with all kinds of bombs and missiles. That brave, moral army of Israel has by now succeeded in killing over 1,600 Palestinians, nearly all of them civilians, including women and children. Not quite sure what the legal definition of terrorism is, but this kind of wholesale slaughter must come pretty close to it. Yet our governments and most of our media still praise Israel for its restraint and its self-defence.

All the very serious people continue the refrain – Israel has the right to defend itself. But hardly any bother to ask, self-defence against what? The standard Israeli response if ever asked, is self-defence against Hamas. And of course Hamas is always qualified as a terrorist organization. And Israelis then plead, who in their right mind would negotiate with a terrorist organization?  Well just about every government in the world as it happens. Including the Israeli, when it suits them, which is very rare, to be true.

But is Hamas a terrorist organization? A little bit of history here. Hamas is a Palestinian organization. It is not just limited to Gaza. Indeed Hamas won a majority at the last Palestinian parliamentary election across the whole of Palestine, including the West Bank. This was in 2006. Israel responded to this democratic election by refusing to recognize the new government and instead launched a series of raids in Gaza and the West Bank and arrested 33 of newly elected Hamas MPs. The USA and the EU supported Israel in this and imposed sanctions on Palestine.  As a result Hamas was effectively restricted to Gaza. However Hamas remains popular across Palestine.

Secondly, Hamas is primarily a religious organization and was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. As part of its religious work, Hamas provides most of the social, health, welfare, cultural and educational services in Gaza. This in large part explains its continuing popularity. Hamas workers are also regarded as generally honest and free of corruption.

Thirdly, Hamas is a resistance organization. This of course is the bit that Israel does not like one little bit. The USA, the UK and the EU also do not like all this resistance. While Israel has the absolute right to self-defence, this right it seems does not apply to Palestinians. Palestinians obviously have no rights, only duties. And that duty above all is to know their place and to do everything to please and appease Israel. However, no matter what the Palestinians do in terms of recognising Israel, maintaining the peace, Israel never finds this enough. In the West Bank for example, Fatah has done just about everything that Israel has asked of it, yet this has not stopped the Occupation and its continuing encroachment into the West Bank. Appeasing Israel brings no rewards, only further humiliation and loss of territory. Resistance, it would seem, is the only option remaining to Palestinians.

Resistance of course does not have to be violent. Gandhi in India led a non violent resistance to British rule. But let us be clear, resistance to Occupation is natural and enshrined in International Law. People living under occupation are entitled to resist, using any and all means at their disposal. This includes military resistance, using home made rockets and anything else at hand. People who resist occupation are always regarded as terrorists by the occupiers. The British have centuries of experience of this. Most of the now independent countries currently participating in the friendly Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, were once upon a time led by resistance fighters whom the British were quite happy to condemn as terrorists. Even when it was not directly involved, Britain was more than willing to regard just about all resistance fighters as terrorists. Remember Nelson Mandela anyone – that well known terrorist who was part of the military wing of the ANC and who never renounced the right of Black South Africans to use violence as part of their struggle for freedom.

In many countries in Europe, the popular memory of the 2nd World War is heavily dominated by recollection of the various resistance or partisan movements that engaged in some very bloody actions against their German occupiers. At the time the Germans regarded these actions as terrorism and enacted even bloodier reprisals, often against the civilian population. Now these resistance fighters are national heroes.

Palestine now is no different. Palestinians are living under a brutal occupation which continues to confiscate their land and which controls almost all aspects of their lives.  Palestinians have the right to resistance this occupation. They have the right to use whatever means they deem appropriate and at hand. Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a legitimate resistance movement and we should support all those who bravely resist the Israeli occupation, including Hamas. Just take a look at the numbers of civilians who have been killed and maimed during this recent onslaught and work out who is indulging in a bit of terrorism.

It is important to remember that not all Israelis or all Jewish people support the current Israeli onslaught. Here is a very good example of reporting and analysis from Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli journalist, who points out to his fellow Israelis just what this fighting is all about – Freedom for Palestine. Finally here is a beautiful poem, based on the Jewish Lamentations, written by Rabbi Brant Rosen. Remember, if you want peace, work for justice.

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More hypocrisy from the West

The recent murderous events in Ukraine and Palestine offer yet again another example of the West’s addiction to hypocrisy. This time it is so blatant as the two events overlap. The shooting down of the Malaysian airplane over Ukrainian territory with the attendant deaths of all those aboard, has unleashed a veritable frenzy of outrage. Outrage primarily directed against Russia and in particular its President, Vladimir Putin. Some newspapers even went so far as to call Mr Putin a terrorist. All within hours of the shooting. Long before any concrete evidence could possibly have emerged. Now it seems that even the USA intelligence service doesn’t hold Russia or Putin responsible for the shooting. As yet nobody knows fully for sure who did fire the rocket or missile. Probably some pro Russian group of Ukrainians. But we still await concrete evidence. Not that the lack of evidence has ever bothered our media or most of the governments in the West. Any excuse for a bit of Russian baiting is game. Both the USA and the EU have called for further sanctions against Russia. While most of the media remain thralled to painting Russia as an insatiable, militaristic, expansionist enemy. The age old fear of Russia is never far below the surface in the UK.

Contrast this fury and hatred of Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin with the equanimity with which the West continues to treat Israel and its leader, Binyamin Netanyahu. In the case of Israel and it latest, ongoing bloody massacres of Palestinians in Gaza, there is no doubt whatsoever who is to blame. Mr Netanyahu makes no attempt to hide his ownership of the current air and ground assault on Gaza. On the contrary he likes to boast about it. As with previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, this one is as one-sided as the others. Only Israel possesses the military hardware, planes, tanks, missiles and goodness knows what else. All of it the most up-to-date of its kind in the world. Israel also seems to possess unlimited amounts of these lethal weapons. On the other side the poor Palestinians have nothing much more than home made and pretty ineffectual rockets. This of course explains why so many Palestinians have been killed and severely wounded.  Over 650 people have already been killed by the Israeli forces.  The majority of these will be civilians, including too many children. While this time around Israel has also suffered some casualties, 31 at the latest count, all but two were soldiers. So the imbalance in the death toll, not to mention the destruction of buildings, is immense. The usual Israeli excuse that this is an exercise in self-defence is just more propaganda. There were no Israeli deaths in the years prior to the latest Israeli assault. The excessive response with the overwhelming majority of Palestinian deaths civilians makes a mockery of this claim of self-defence. You don’t need to kill hundreds of civilians to protect your country against home made rockets. Even the Americans admit that Israel’s assault is anything but pinpoint.

Yet, despite all this knowledge about who is doing the killing and who ordered this killing spree, the West seems unwilling to do anything about it. Well the general public in most countries is pretty aware of what is going on and has made their disapproval of Israel known through mass demonstrations. However our leaders, especially in the UK and the USA are as wedded to Israel as ever. Israel in their eyes can never do any wrong.  Russia, which was not directly responsible for one terrible action is subject to pillory, sanctions and an arms embargo, However, Israel, which is directly responsible for the ongoing killing and maiming of hundreds and hundreds of civilians is praised. No sanctions, no arms embargo, not even a mild diplomatic rebuke. Little in the past can equal this brutal and pathetic, if not unexpected, confirmation of the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy at the core of the West. Israel is an uncontrolled war machine, masquerading as a state, a rogue state if ever there was one.  Allowed to unleash its terror on Palestinians solely due to the complicity of the USA and its craven allies in Europe. Now is the time to take a stand for Palestine and the rights of Palestinians for justice.

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