Speaking of the recent mass murders by the Israeli army of Palestinian civilians in Gaza (murders which Olmert blamed on Hamas beause of the continued firing of harmless 'qassam' rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot ) Olmert said:
"I am deeply sorry for the residents of Gaza, but the lives, security and well-being of the residents of Sderot is even more important."
Of course, Olmert's comment, and the deep-seated racism at the heart of Israeli politics that it seems to expose, can be rationalised with the claim that it is not unreasonable that an Israeli Prime Minister would be more concerned about the lives of Israeli citizens than those of the Palestinian 'enemy'. After all, this is "war", is it not?
Well, yes and no. Yes, if your definition of "war" is:
- to dispossess an entire people from large parts of their land
- shepherd them into refugee camps
- exile others and refuse them a right to return
- manipulate international opinion via the mainstream press and demonise the dispossessed people as terrorists when they resist your brutal measures against them
- deprive them of any real means to resist yet when they do manage to strike back, portray them as being a greater source of evil than you
- isolate them from any international aid and begin a process of slowly making their lives into a living hell
- periodically murder them, including many children to an average of 600 per year and then lie about it and ensure that their suffering is played down in the international mainstream press.
The simple fact of the matter is that , if the Israeli government was truly only concerned with protecting Israeli citizens and bore no visceral, racist hatred towards Palestinians, then we would surely be much further along the road to a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it is hard to convince anyone that your primary goal is defence when:
- your air force fires 1,000 missiles per week at a 7x30 mile strip of land (Gaza) that is home to over 1.4 million impoverished people (Palestinians), 50% of whom are under the age of 15.
- 3012 Palestinian Civilians have been killed by Israeli Occupation Forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the beginning of the
Palestinian uprising (Intifada) in 2000.
- 22,750 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in the same period.
- in the same period approximately 700 Israeli civilians have been killed as a result of Palestinian attacks
- during all of 2005, just six Israeli Occupation Forces were killed by Palestinian resistance fighters
Somebody, please tell me how it comes to pass, if not by control of the mainstream press, and very significant control at that. In fact, save yourself the bother, here's how it happened:
|9 Israeli children's deaths were reported in the headlines or first paragraphs of AP articles on the Israel/Palestine conflict in 2004, when 8 had actually occurred. During the same period only 27 out of 179 Palestinian children's deaths were reported. Additionally, Palestinian children made up a disproportionately large number of Palestinian deaths in general.
Children's deaths accounted for 21.8% of the Palestinians killed, while children's deaths accounted for only 7.4% of Israelis killed during this period. 22 times more Palestinian children were killed than Israeli children.
AP reported on 113% of Israeli children's deaths in headlines or first paragraphs, while reporting on only 15% of Palestinian children's deaths. That is, Israeli children's deaths were reported at a rate 7.5 times greater than Palestinian children's deaths.
You might want to consider this one also, and realise that, if the BBC "favors Israel", then American networks are positively "in love" with Israel:
BBC news 'favours Israel' at expense of Palestinian viewIn any case, within a few days of Olmert's remarks about the Palestinian people and their lack of innate worth, Olmert himself clarified exactly how he feels about Palestinians by way of his response to the capture by the Palestinian resistance of a single Israeli soldier.
Dan Sabbagh, Media Editor
May 3rd 2006
The BBC'S coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict implicitly favours the Israeli side, a study for the BBC Governors has concluded.
Deaths of Israelis received greater coverage than Palestinian fatalities, while Israelis received more airtime on news and current affairs programmes. The references to "identifiable shortcomings" surprised BBC News executives, who are more used to accusations that their coverage is routinely anti-Israel. [...]
article four of the third Geneva convention is the right of a people to physically resist the invasion and occupation of their land by a foreign power. Nowhere in the world do we find a clearer example of an unjust and illegal occupation and oppression of a land and its people than in the Israeli annexation and occupation of Palestine. On the morning of Sunday June 25th, Palestinian resistance fighters, using a tunnel they had dug under the border fence with Israel, launched an attack on an Israeli army check point on the southern border of the Gaza strip. Such IDF check points are an integral part of the Israeli military apparatus that is being used to terrorize and oppress the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip including the denial of basic provisions like food and water, and as such, are legitimate military targets. The Palestinian attack left 2 IDF soldiers dead with one, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, taken prisoner. Three Palestinian resistance fighters were also killed.
The Palestinians currently holding Cpl. Shalit have made it clear that their goal is a prisoner exchange. Israel is currently detaining, or rather interning, thousands of Palestinians, many of them innocent civilians. Among them are women and small children. Indeed, the three militant groups who claimed responsibility for the capture of Cpl. Shalit have stated that they would release him in return for the release of Palestinian women and children under the ago of 18 held in Israeli jails. Sounds like a reasonable offer, right? Unsurprisingly, Israel refused the offer. Falling back on the much-used "we don't deal with terrorists", Olmert stated that there would be no negotiations - either Shalit is handed over, or the residents of the Gaza strip would suffer the dire consequences.
Now, I know what you are thinking: all of this seems to suggest that Israeli politicians and military advisers don't want their precious soldier back, that they want to use him as an excuse to attack Hamas and the people of Gaza and maybe start a war with Syria. Heck, you might even be thinking that the Israeli military and government actually knew that a Palestinan attack by tunnel in that area was planned, and maybe decided to allow it to happen to create a crisis. Indeed, it is very possible that one or other (or both) of these scenarios is very close to reality. The initial response by the Israeli government to the capture of Cpl. Shalit was to escalate the standoff and bomb the main power station and several bridges (two days ago) in Gaza, cutting off power and water to most of the 1.4 million people living there. Palestinian workers have said it may take up to 6 months to repair.
No power, no water, for 6 months. But before you decide on the appropriateness or otherwise of such an 'opening salvo' that punished 1.4 million people in one go, including 700,000 children under 15 years of age, let me just update you on the conditions, imposed by Israel, in which Gazans were living even before this latest aggression.
For close to 60 years, through its original and continuing theft and occupation of Palestinian land, the Israeli government has been in flagrant violation of international law. Repeatedly over that time, the Israeli army has, and continues to engage in what are clearly crimes against humanity in its attempts to utterly extinguish any form of Palestinian resistance and therefore the inherent right of the Palestinian people to oppose Israeli government barbarism and murder.
The forced migration and ethnic-cleansing of Palestinian civilians from their homes and property in 1948, referred to as the Nakba of Palestine, led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to neighboring countries and various countries around the globe. The State of Israel was established on Palestinian towns and villages that had been cleansed of their original inhabitants. Palestinian civilians were scattered and Palestinian refugees came to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria. Most of these refugees continue to live in refugee camps, including 8 camps in the Gaza Strip. These refugees lost their property, land, homes and livelihoods and were therefore subjected to a state of poverty, deprivation and exposure.At present then, having cut off electricity and water to a people already suffering terribly and who possess no effective means of defending their lives or the lives of their children, the Israeli military has begun shelling the Gaza strip under "Operation Summer Rain" (of bombs). Palestinians have fled the areas being occupied by the Israeli military which is poised to launch a wholesale invasion of Gaza, during which, we can be sure, many Palestinians will be killed as "collateral damage" for which Mr Olmert will undoubtedly shed crocodile tears.
- 1967 constituted a continuation of the sequence of poverty and deprivation for Palestinians. IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank. This occupation was accompanied by uprooting of more Palestinians and the creation of more refugees. As a result, the state of poverty and deprivation was exacerbated.
- IDF imposed a number of policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the annexation of Jerusalem. These policies included the issuing of a series of military orders that facilitated the confiscation of hundreds of thousands of dunums of Palestinian land and control of Palestinian resources, particularly water resources. These policies ensured Israeli control over the consumer and production sectors of the Palestinian economy, making it a market for Israeli products and a source of cheap labor. In addition, a heavy tax system was imposed, which led to a decrease in the income of Palestinians.
- The living standards of Palestinians decreased at the end of 1987 after the eruption of the popular uprising (Intifada) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This led to an increase in poverty among civilians. IDF imposed restrictions on Palestinian labor in the Israeli market, resulting in the loss of work for tens of thousands of laborers, who now joined in the ranks of the unemployed.
- In 1991, living standards in the Occupied Palestinian Territories deteriorated further due to outbreak of the Second Gulf War. A large number of Palestinians lost work in the region as a result. Many families depended on money transfers from expatriates, particularly those working in the Gulf states (Iraq). In addition, monetary transfers from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to the West Bank and Gaza Strip decreased due to the loss of funding from Gulf states.
- The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was established in 1994 after the signing of the Oslo accords between the PLO and the government of Israel. The accords were based on the Declaration of Principles signed in Washington in 1993. Palestinians were soon disappointed, however, when the economic prosperity expected from the peace agreement was not achieved, especially in light of international promises to establish a developed Palestinian economy. Contrary to promises made, IDF continued to strengthen its control over Palestinian natural resources, as well as control over all border crossings linking the Occupied Palestinian Territories to the outside world or to Israel, and control of the movement of goods and individuals.
- In 1996, IDF introduced policies of comprehensive closure and siege of Palestinian territory. IDF isolated the West Bank and Jerusalem from the Gaza Strip, depriving Palestinians of geographical contiguity. In addition, IDF prevented thousands of Palestinian laborers from reaching their work places in Israel, resulting in the increase of unemployment rates. The living standards of tens of thousands of Palestinian families deteriorated and poverty rates increased.
- On 29 September 2000, the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" erupted. Since then, IDF have imposed a comprehensive closure on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which has led to a halting of economic exchange and which has paralyzed economic and production sectors. More than 120,000 Palestinian laborers from the Occupied Palestinian Territories were prevented from reaching their workplaces inside Israel as a result of closure. In addition, thousands of Palestinians employed in the local market became unemployed due to the closure of workshops and factories, which were affected by the closure policy or were damaged/destroyed by IDF. Unemployment rates reached unprecedented levels, which further exacerbated the poverty problem in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
- From September 2000 to the end of 2005, the number of Palestinian civilians killed by IDF and Israeli settlers reached 2,936, including 651 children and 106 women. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were injured. The injured included 8,662 injured people from the Gaza Strip, including hundreds who now suffer from permanent disabilities.
- IDF carried out extensive destruction of Palestinian property. This destruction included the bulldozing of agricultural land, demolition of agricultural and industrial establishments, as well as destruction of infrastructure. PCHR documented the bulldozing and uprooting of over 31,699 dunums of agricultural land in the Gaza Strip, comprising approximately 20% of the agricultural land in the Strip.
- IDF actions and the comprehensive closure affected the living standards of Palestinian families. Unemployment reached unprecedented levels, resulting in raised poverty rates. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicates that the percentage of Palestinian families living under the poverty line increased to more than 64% from the beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada to April 2001, meaning that over two million Palestinians were living under the poverty line. The geographical distribution of these impoverished Palestinians was 55.7% in the West Bank and 81.4% in the Gaza Strip.
- The Special UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food in the Occupied Palestinian Territories classified families living on brink of a humanitarian disaster. He indicated that the main reason behind this situation was the strict security procedures imposed by IDF on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada on 29 September 2000. The Rapporteur indicated that acute malnutrition in the Gaza Strip was on the same scale as that seen in poor countries of the Southern Sahara. Given the fertile nature of Palestinian land, such comparisons were startling.
More than 22% of Palestinian children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition, including 9.3% suffering from acute malnutrition, 13.2% suffering from chronic mal-nutrition and 15.6% suffering from acute anemia. It is expected that this will lead to long-term negative effects on the physical and cognitive development of many of these children. More than half of Palestinian families eat one meal a day only. Food consumption in Palestinian families dropped by 25-30% per person, especially protein intake. The number of Palestinians living under extreme poverty multiplied threefold since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
- PCBS also indicates that the percentage of families that face extreme difficulties in obtaining healthcare for children during the Intifada is 41%, 32.1% in the Gaza Strip and 44.6% in the West Bank. Anemic children in the 6-59 months age group, 41.6% face extreme difficulties in obtaining healthcare.
- International organizations, including humanitarian organizations working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, foresee catastrophic humanitarian effects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in general and the Gaza Strip in particular. World Bank estimates indicate that unemployment is expected to rise to 40% in 2006 and to 47% by 2008. The economic and social situation will be more acute in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, where unemployment and poverty rates are high and work is dependent on the PNA civilian and security branches. Some organizations estimate that unemployment in the Gaza Strip will reach 60%. Other estimates point to poverty rates in the Occupied Palestinian Territories rising to 67% in 2006 and to 74% by 2008.
- International organization data indicate that the policy of closure imposed by the Israeli government on the Occupied Palestinian Territories has led to the loss of nearly two-thirds of the international aid donated to Palestinians since the establishment of the PNA.
At the same time, Olmert's government is apparently seeking to escalate the matter by ordering Israeli (American-financed) jets to overfly the home of Syrian President Assad in an act of unmitigated belligerence which, coincidentally occured just a few hours after U.S. ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, stated that the problem behind the Israeli hostage crisis is in Syria, at the home of Hamas's exiled political supremo Khaled Meshaal, who Israel and America claim is being sheltered by the Syrians. The Syrians, for their part, activated their air defences and claim to have forced the Israeli jets to flee.
But before you start to think that there is more to this than meets the eye, I would like to remind you that the Israeli government would like to remind you that all of this is about one thing and one thing only - bringing a poor Israeli boy home to his parents. In saying this, I am not dismissing the life or plight of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but as a soldier, he knew the risks involved, however small, in participating in the maintenance of the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. In 'war' (however inappropriate that term is for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) there are soldiers and there are civilians. What Cpl. Shalit probably had not bargained for however, was that his life would be used by Israeli politicians in an opportunistic attempt to settle their regional and 'internal' problems once and for all.
What I want you to ask yourself is what the details of this conflict, and the current escalation over the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, say about the value that Israeli politicians assign to the lives of Palestinian civilians, simply as a people, and what, if any, parallels with events in Europe from 1939-1945 come to mind. I am also waiting on someone to explain to me what mechanism exists to ensure that the details of the conflict, particularly those damaging to Israel, are systematically denied to the international community, and how it is that Israel can possibly be promoted in the mainstream press as the 'victim'.
Perhaps an indicator is found in a very relevant recent news story that you surely also somehow missed. It concerns Dana Olmert, the daughter of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who created a stir recently when she joined 200 demonstrators outside the Tel Aviv home of Dan Halutz, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, to protest the murder of those 14 Palestinian civilian adults and children who were accidentally murdered by the IDF as they went about their job of "fighting terrorism".
The above mentioned Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Dan Halutz is an interesting guy. In August 2002, he ordered the Israeli airforce to drop a one tonne bomb on an occupied apartment block in Gaza where, he claimed, a Hamas member was living. The Hamas leader was killed, along with 14 innocent civilians. When hearing of this "collateral damage", Halutz told his top gun crew:
"Guys, you can sleep well at night. I also sleep well, by the way. You aren't the ones who choose the targets, and you were not the ones who chose the target in this particular case. You are not responsible for the contents of the target. Your execution was perfect. Superb. And I repeat again: There is no problem here that concerns you. You did exactly what you were instructed to do. You did not deviate from that by so much as a millimeter to the right or to the left. And anyone who has a problem with that is invited to see me."When questioned by a reporter about the morality of the strike and about the feelings of a pilot when he drops a bomb, Halutz stated:
"That is not a legitimate question and it is not asked. But if you nevertheless want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I will tell you: I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb's release. A second later it's gone, and that's all. That is what I feel."There you have it then. To the Israeli oligarchs, the death of Palestinian civilians is "superb", and they feel nothing when they kill women and children. What more can I say - either someone does something about these sick pyschopaths, or they, and their kind in Washington and around the world, will destroy us all.