Israel stood defiant last night in the face of mounting international condemnation, as it vowed to continue a massive bombing offensive against key targets in the Gaza Strip that left 205 dead and 700 others injured.
As world leaders called for an immediate end to the biggest air assault on Gaza since 1967, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, refused to rule out a ground invasion in the next few days saying that the retaliation against rocket attacks by Hamas had only just begun. "It won't be easy and it won't be short," said Barak. "There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight."
And in the spirit of supreme sacrifice in a move reminiscent of our own John McCain:
He said he was withdrawing from campaigning for Israel's February elections to focus on the operation.
But not to worry:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the operation "may take some time" - but he pledged to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories would probably have some difficulty believing that pledge. Here is what he had to say about the Israeli occupation of Gaza in June of 2007:
At that time our compassionate leader Obama had also chimed in with a letter decrying how the Gaza siege had been forced on Israel.
There is little doubt that the Nazi Holocaust was as close to unconditional evil as has been revealed throughout the entire bloody history of the human species. Its massiveness, unconcealed genocidal intent, and reliance on the mentality and instruments of modernity give its enactment in the death camps of Europe a special status in our moral imagination. This special status is exhibited in the continuing presentation of its gruesome realities through film, books, and a variety of cultural artifacts more than six decades after the events in question ceased. The permanent memory of the Holocaust is also kept alive by the existence of several notable museums devoted exclusively to the depiction of the horrors that took place during the period of Nazi rule in Germany.
Against this background, it is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as ‘holocaust.’
Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy. If ever the ethos of ‘a responsibility to protect,’ recently adopted by the UN Security Council as the basis of ‘humanitarian intervention’ is applicable, it would be to act now to start protecting the people of Gaza from further pain and suffering. But it would be unrealistic to expect the UN to do anything in the face of this crisis, given the pattern of US support for Israel and taking into account the extent to which European governments have lent their weight to recent illicit efforts to crush Hamas as a Palestinian political force.
Even if the pressures exerted on Gaza were to be acknowledged as having genocidal potential and even if Israel’s impunity under America’s geopolitical umbrella is put aside, there is little assurance that any sort of protective action in Gaza would be taken. There were strong advance signals in 1994 of a genocide to come in Rwanda, and yet nothing was done to stop it; the UN and the world watched while the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnians took place, an incident that the World Court described as ‘genocide’ a few months ago; similarly, there have been repeated allegations of genocidal conduct in Darfur over the course of the last several years, and hardly an international finger has been raised, either to protect those threatened or to resolve the conflict in some manner that shares power and resources among the contending ethnic groups.
But Gaza is morally far worse, although mass death has not yet resulted. It is far worse because the international community is watching the ugly spectacle unfold while some of its most influential members actively encourage and assist Israel in its approach to Gaza. Not only the United States, but also the European Union, are complicit, as are such neighbors as Egypt and Jordan apparently motivated by their worries that Hamas is somehow connected with their own problems associated with the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood within their own borders. It is helpful to recall that the liberal democracies of Europe paid homage to Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games, and then turned away tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. I am not suggesting that the comparison should be viewed as literal, but to insist that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century....
Israel is currently stiffening the boycott on economic relations that has brought the people of Gaza to the brink of collective starvation. This set of policies, carried on for more than four decades, has imposed a sub-human existence on a people that have been repeatedly and systematically made the target of a variety of severe forms of collective punishment. The entire population of Gaza is treated as the ‘enemy’ of Israel, and little pretext is made in Tel Aviv of acknowledging the innocence of this long victimized civilian society.To persist with such an approach under presentt circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole. It is this prospect that makes appropriate the warning of a Palestinian holocaust in the making, and should remind the world of the famous post-Nazi pledge of ‘never again.'
And now that he is the President-Elect
Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,
I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.
I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel…
All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this… Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.
The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks… If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.
United States Senator
Brooke Anderson, Obama's national security spokeswoman, said only that Obama "is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza."Probably trying to develop his understanding further.