Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel, Gaza and Lebanon: The People Versus The Rulers

Israel, Gaza and Lebanon: The People Versus Their Leaders

by John Spritzler []

Why are ordinary people who live in Gaza, Lebanon and parts of Israel going through hell now?

Gaza: Mona El-farra, a Palestinian physician living in Gaza, wrote July 5: “A BIG explosion, and so loud, and I’m fully awake. So is my daughter Sondos. We hardly can see anything--it is very dark. A drone hit the Ministry of Interior building again with a missile, completely destroying it. I contact my friend Hoda to find her screaming, shrieking in pain, trapped under the windows of her flat, which were broken by the blast. Fumes fill the place, and she is waiting for the emergency team to evacuate her.”

On July 12 she wrote: “As a physician, I fear for our patients. Twenty-two hospitals have no electricity. They have to rely on generators, but the generators need fuel. We have enough fuel to last a few days at most, because the borders are sealed so no fuel can get in. The shortage of power threatens the lives of patients on life-support machines and children in intensive care, as well as renal dialysis patients and others. Hundreds of operations have been postponed. The pharmacies were already nearly empty because of Israeli border closures and the cutoff of international aid. What little supplies were left have gone bad in the absence of refrigeration.”

Lebanon: A Lebanese man, Hayan Charara, wrote a friend on July 12: “As you may or may not know, Israel is bombing southern Lebanon. I found out around 4AM--a phone call from my father. Apparently, he was driving with his wife and my 6 year old brother back from a trip in Beirut and he turned his car around when he saw Israeli jets firing missiles at civilian villages. Nothing new, really--this is the second time in the last several weeks that my little brother has endured Israeli air attacks (it could be worse--he could be Palestinian). Anyhow, the last time, mortar shells fell about a mile from his school. But he's used to it by now. The sound of jets streaming across the sky and of bombs falling to the earth don't frighten him so much anymore.”

Mr. Charara also wrote to President Bush: “I want nothing more than to see Arabs and Israelis to live in peace. After all, whether Jew or Palestinian or Lebanese, the people of these lands should not have to endure collective punishment either. However, Israel makes this nearly impossible. While terrorists should be dealt with, it is wrong for any state to punish an entire population for the actions of a few. Israel has been collectively punishing Palestinians in Gaza in order to secure the release of a single soldier, and it is now bombing civilian villages in Lebanon to secure the release of two soldiers. Israel has killed innocents--men, women, boys, girls--and justifies those deaths, or simply waves them off as ‘regrettable’--we expect this from terrorists, but from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’?”

Israel: One can only imagine the fear that Israelis experience when rockets hit their communities. July 13, the Jerusalem Post reported: “A Katyusha rocket landed in Yesud Hama'ala on Israel's northern border on Friday afternoon. MDA reported several people were wounded in the attack.

“Thirteen people were wounded in the latest bombardment of rockets on Safed and Nahariya on Friday afternoon. A rocket landing in Safed hit a residential building. Two of the wounded in Safed sustained moderate wounds, the other eight were lightly wounded. The wounded in Nahariya were all reported to be in light condition. Rockets also reportedly landed near Hatzor, Bar'am, Mahanayim, Horfesh, though no one was reported wounded.”

The reason the people are going through hell is because Israeli leaders, and Palestinian leaders in Hamas and Hezbollah, benefit from this hell.

Powerful rulers like the Israeli ruling class with the 5th strongest army in the world, and weak want-to-be rulers like those in control of Hamas and Hezbollah, have one thing in common: they can control their own people more easily when their people are frightened, by attacks on them from an external enemy, into supporting “their own” leaders. Israeli leaders with F-16 jets, and Palestinian leaders with home-made rockets, commit violence against innocent civilians of the “enemy” religion in the name of their own, in order to foment a virulent racial/ ethnic/ religious war between Jews and Palestinians. Why? Because in the midst of such a war, people don't challenge their own leaders the way they otherwise would with demands for real equality and democracy. Israelis, for example, staged a general strike against their leaders in 1997 when Oslo made them think peace was at hand.

The fundamental violence, that makes all the rest easy to generate, is the brutal and morally indefensible ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that Israeli leaders have carried out. In 1948 they drove out 80% of the non-Jews who once lived in what is now Israel, and today they deny Palestinians their fundamental human right to return to their country, forcing millions to live in refugee camps in places like Lebanon and Gaza. The anger generated by this ethnic cleansing is the ONLY reason that those who fire rockets at Israeli civilians have ANY support from their own people for this unjustified violence.

At the same time, violence against Israeli soldiers (and some fanatical settlers) who violently enforce racist oppression of Palestinians IS justified.

Unfortunately, the people who want an end to ethnic cleansing, and peace between Jews and non-Jews in the land of Palestine, based on equality instead of religiously exclusive apartheid states, are the people without real power, like the ones quoted above. They are the ones who need our help.

What can Americans do to help?

The best thing we can do to help all people suffering in Palestine/Israel/Lebanon is to make our government stop supporting the ethnic cleansing that is the root of the conflict. We need to make our government stop giving aid to Israel until it abandons its project of ethnic cleansing, grants every Palestinian the right to return and be fully equal to Jews inside what is now Israel, and compensates Palestinians for the property Israel illegally seized from them in 1948.

Our upper class government leaders also benefit from this hell in the Middle East.

Our rulers want to see this terrible ethnic war continue, because they want elite rulers, not ordinary people, to be in power in the Middle East, just as in our own country. The real war in the Middle East is a class war of elites against the people, a war that the elites try to diguise as a religious war.

The problem facing people in the Middle East is our problem too. It will take ordinary people all over the world acting together in solidarity to solve it.


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