In Gaza as in Iraq, the US public is being lied to while US taxpayers and US power is wasted to support aggression. Vanity Fair reported on the scheme to topple Hamas concocted by Eliot Abrams (a Zionist in the Bush administration) that was “part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs” that ended up strengthening Hamas. And by contrast to PR strategies, the former head of the Israeli intelligence services admitted in Israeli papers that Israel could have stopped Palestinian retaliatory home-made rockets long ago by lifting its siege of Gaza (a condition of the cease fire between Hamas and Israel agreed to but rarely implemented) but that Israel had a more strategic issue: to try a different way to topple the duly elected Hamas government.
But what else are we not being told about Gaza? Over 70% of the 1.5 million Palestinians in this besieged tiny strip of arid land are refugees. When Obama visited Sderot in the Negev, he should have also visited Gaza where he would have met with the original residents of Najd which was renamed Sderot after its destruction and settlement by European Jews. In Gaza he could have met with refugees from many of the 530 villages and towns ethnically cleansed. To aid the exodus, in the six weeks that preceded declaring Israel a state, 33 massacres were committed by Jewish forces like the Haganah, Irgun, and Stern (forerunners of the Israeli army that is attacking Gaza today). The Palestinian Nakba or catastrophe of destruction and ethnic cleansing marks our history like the genocides of WWII marks European history. The nascent state expanded by force to encompass 78% of Palestine (50% more than it was allocated). The West Bank and Gaza Strip were occupied in a second stage of Israeli expansion (1967). A massive colonial settler enterprise brought 450,000 Jews from around the world to live in the West Bank. In an eternal quest for maximum geography (for the Jewish state) with minimum (native Palestinian) demography, a deepening system of apartheid and discrimination ensued funded by US taxpayers. As in other colonial ventures, the natives (e.g. Native Americans, Algerians, Indians etc.) are designated as terrorist, savages, and barbarians especially when they resist.
The Gaza Ghetto uprising was so inconvenient to designs to dominate the Middle East, that it was met with uncommon brutality. This had to be coupled with massive and well-funded media campaigns abroad to hide the realities while preventing media access to Gaza. But independent coverage in Europe and elsewhere show that Israeli forces shelled two universities, three colleges, police stations, several residential neighborhoods, three UN schools, roads, bridges, and a children playground. 700 Palestinians were killed in two weeks and over 3000 injured. Half of the victims are women and children and half the men are noncombatants. Relative to US population, this would be like killing 132,000 US citizens in two weeks. The Red Cross and UN agencies report massive violations of Israeli obligations under International law in many cases amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ironically, in the past 60 years the US used its veto power twice as often to protect Israel from International law than to protect US interests.
The real reason for the onslaught on Gaza is also not about fundamentalist Islam. The US and Israel are happy to support those when they tow the party line (take Saudi Arabia for example). Like the attack on Lebanon in 2006 Gaza is pummeled to accept the colonization and power structures. In that context we can understand Israeli Deputy “Defense” minister Matai Vilnai who warned once that continuing resistance would bring upon Palestinians a “bigger holocaust”. Indeed resistance to colonization and occupation are natural and enshrined in International law and can only be obliterated by genocide.
The timing of Israel’s carnage in Gaza is not coincidental to US transitions of power (i.e. terrorize Palestinians in case Obama may not be as sympathetic as Bush to such tactics) nor is it coincidental to upcoming Israeli elections (ie. ruling party candidates want to appear extra tough). What is not understandable is that US taxpayers are supporting this charade. The US role in the world was most admired and its economy was booming when President Eisenhower stood with International law and forced Israel to withdraw from Gaza and the Sinai in 1956. By contrast, US standing in the world and its economy are weakest now that the Israel lobby is at maximum power and dragging us into endless wars. Despite the blackout in many media outlets, hundreds of demonstrations in support of Gaza around the US indicate that people are starting to understand that this injustice cannot go on. When we end US support for Israeli apartheid (and we will), both Israelis and Palestinians will be able to live in dignity and peace and a big weight will be lifted from the US and world economies. The alternatives are continuing bloodshed and economic devastation. The choice is obvious.
Mazin Qumsiyeh taught at Duke and Yale before returning to teach at Bethlehem University. He is Director of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People. His website is www.Qumsiyeh.org