When this came out last May 30
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has denounced the international community for its "silence and complicity" on what he called Israel's "abominable" 11-month blockade of Gaza.
The Archbishop, mainly here on a UN mission to investigate what he called the Beit Hanoun massacre of 21 civilians by Israeli tank shelling 18 months ago, said: "All we had heard about conditions in Gaza – deprivation, a sense of despair, the lack of economic activity – had not prepared us for the stark reality which we saw."
Of course, this gets little response, thanks to "fear of AIPAC." But AIPAC may ultimately be working against Israel's long-term interests, and so are others who support the blockade, which has radicalized more moderates and villainized Israel to more people than any "Islamist" propaganda ever could.
Nobody in their right mind expects the candidates to stand in sympathy with Gaza or the Palestinians. Candidates have to be all things to all people, and even more particularly, all things to all power-brokers. So to whom do we turn to stand up to the almighty power of AIPAC about which is said:
Former president Bill Clinton defined it as "stunningly effective". Former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich called it "the most effective general-interest group across the entire planet". The New York Times as "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel".
AIPAC maintains a virtual stranglehold over the US Congress. Critics of the Israel lobby other than Walt and Mearsheimer also contend that AIPAC essentially prevents any possibility of open debate on US policy towards Israel.
Or towards Palestinians. Or towards ... Iraq?
It has become relatively fashionable for some members of the Israeli lobby to deny any involvement in the build-up towards the war on Iraq. But few remember what AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr told the New York Sun in January 2003: "Quietly lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq was one of AIPAC's successes over the past year."
And in a New Yorker profile of Steven Rosen, AIPAC's policy director during the run-up to the war on Iraqi, it was stated that "AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraqi war".
Compare it with a 2007 Gallup study based on 13 different polls, according to which 77% of American Jews were opposed to the Iraq war, compared to 52% of Americans.
Walt and Mearsheimer contend"the war was due in large part to the lobby's influence, and especially its neo-con wing. The lobby is not always representative of the larger community for which it often claims to speak."
Does this mean AIPAC is overextending itself and in fact, doing the Jews - or actual human beings who identify themselves as Jews - and even Israel in a more long-term sense - more harm than good??
Does that apply also to the Palestinian issue? Of course it does! Look at Amy Goodman, who frequently hosts Palestinian-sympathizing guests and expresses strong opposition to the hawkish Security First line.
Nothing ever gets solved without the willingness to actually discuss and communicate as human beings. Once both sides become Untouchable Aliens, there is no solution but war, violence and suffering. And this doesn't occur in a vaccuum.
The problem also lies in what has been defined as "nationalism" vs. "patriotism".
George Orwell wrote that nationalism was one of the worst enemies of peace. He defined nationalism as the feeling that your way of life, country, or ethnic group were superior to others. These types of feelings lead a group to attempt to impose their morality on any given situation. When those standards were not met, more often then not, war would result.
In contrast he stated that patriotism was the feeling of admiration for a way of life etc. and the willingness to defend it against attack. The obvious difference between the two is that while patriotism is a passive attitude, nationalism is aggressive by nature.
Israel's Security First right wing enforces strong nationalism. Nationalism that displays in US foreign policy that blares to the world "Israel Right or Wrong". It's presented as a patriotic thing, but in practice, with the pre-emptive attack policy, it cannot be described as merely "defense".
On the other hand, Israel has failed to recognize that it actually has neighbors to whom it must prove itself as a good neighbor so as to get off US life-support, finally graduate from Protected Fetus status, and become a viable nation in every sense of the word. In other words, Israel will remain in vitro, a sort of implant in the Middle East, as long as it keeps this "I am God, You are Dirt" attitude. The blockade of Gaza signs, seals and delivers that impression on all those neighbors. Those nasty little vermin anti-semitic terrorists/ tyrants.
Can't you even pretend they're human? Turn on the electricity or open some freaking road so the dying can get treatment in the hospitals? Can't you see how tyrannical, nasty, mean, racist, and downright immoral this looks? The taste of genocide is in the air... where's those talented PR guys??? A token loaf of bread, some baby formula, something...
Israel cannot maintain its current position forever, much to some Israeli right-wingers' disbelief. The US empire is crumbling in the wake of the disastrous so-called "War on Terror" which has proved to be more of an apocalyptic-styled war on any non-totalitarian Muslim society that claims to have an "Islamic" government.
The US and Israel, by their policies, are feeding the fire, creating more terror, more enemies, more worldwide resentment. They are becoming, in the eyes of the rest of the world, pariahs. Their policies are intransigent, highly aggressive, featuring torture and "pre-emptive strikes". What was once the sole domain of Israel and done with some trepidation is now US foreign policy and done without a single pang of conscience.
What is conscience? An inconvenience? A nagging UN-leftwing-bleedingheart-vegan-weenie-antisemitic rant? Or is it that very thing that forces humankind to do what they hate most - consideration for others? It is that painful, dreaded submission of pride to some alien group again.
Conscience is replaced by rhetoric. Discourse is replaced by rant.
On the one hand, we hear citations of numerous threats by Hamas or Hamas sympathizers that they will somehow return Palestine to its original, Jew-free state. Just as Palestinians see Israel's insistence that recognition include the phrase "Jewish Homeland" which they take to mean recognition of the right of Israel to expel all non-Jews from Israel, to create an Arab-free state. But everyone knows reality is never dictated by threats, dreams, commands, or dictates issuing from leaders or governments.
Even Hamas leader Misha'al stated (quoted here)
We have the Palestinian Conciliation Document of 2006, in which all the organizations agreed clearly to a state based on the borders of 1967 including Jerusalem, the right of return and full sovereignty.
At some point, Israel will have to listen to its own people and take them into consideration, not for their fears but for their hopes and aspirations - but realistically. That means facing the ugly consequences of what the Israeli government is doing now so aggregiously, so aggressively, so cold-heartedly. So devoid of conscience. As Desmond Tutu said:
"The entire situation is abominable. I believe the ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade if they knew what it really meant to ordinary people like themselves... My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma."
And here's the crux of the matter:
... he said that events in both South Africa and Northern Ireland had shown that peace would come through negotiations "not with your friends. Peace can only come when enemies sit down and talk".
Of course, fat chance of that from nationalist Israel:
... less than 24 hours after the Archbishop's visit to Beit Hanoun, 60 Palestinians were arrested during a pre-dawn raid by the Israeli military on the northern Gaza town. Palestinian witnesses said that residents had been summoned to a local square before dozens were taken away for questioning, and that armed military bulldozers had destroyed some farmland in the area.
Some think they can obliterate a population and then, as if committing the perfect crime, simply deny they ever existed, thus exonerating their deed. Others prefer using semantics, calling Palestinians "terrorists" and "antisemites" (implying "racist") while Jews are "God's chosen people" and part of Biblical destiny and "holocaust victims" - meaning not simply victims of the Holocaust, but people who, having collectively undergone such a horrible disaster, now are justified in doing anything whatsoever to maintain their security. It's a feeling, but Israel needs more self-confidence, less defensiveness. Hey, they're nuclear armed in a sea of Arab military nothingness!
Finally, the net result of Israel's blockade of Gaza may be to create more extremism and terrorism in the region, since all Palestinians and Arabs can see of Israel is cruelty and oppression and a callous disregard for their humanity. They don't see that Hamas is also culpable in this, that they may be "abusing" their population in some ways.
Palestinian children in Hamas-controlled Gaza are being taught to take an active role in terrorist operations against Israel and are thus placed in mortal danger by those who should be responsible for their safety and well-being. The children, too young to fully understand even the meaning of death, are taught to aspire to "martyrdom" in children's television shows produced by the Hamas.
The blockade is NOT having the desired effect of limiting Hamas' power, but rather increasing their hold on people who see Hamas, like them, as being victimized. It gives Hamas the role of "voice of the people", a role I believe Israel, in its most nationalistic right-wing dream, would prefer it not to have.
Conscience has its perks. People recognize good works and human consideration for others. They really do. And ultimately, what could hurt Israel in the region is disregard for Palestinians and the human wasteland they've made of Gaza. You can blame Hamas. You can call them terrorists. But what the people feel is that Israel wants to destroy them, not Hamas. And only Israel can have a change of conscience. The US will do nothing with theirs, as long as Bushco and AIPAC remain in their positions of unmitigated power.