Monday, January 21, 2008

Eyeless In Gaza—Also In Jenin

I must be the hundredth blogger to refer to—actually, defer to—the work of Gideon Levy, Haaretz’s veteran correspondent in the territories. If you have not heard of him, think of someone with the physical courage of George Orwell and tenacity of I.F. Stone. He has written two remarkable articles this past week-end on the subject of my last post, which I hasten to add to the argument. If you missed them, do not miss them here.

The first piece is a report from Jenin, which most Israeli journalists do not dare to enter anymore, in part because this would put them in mortal danger, but mainly because of the moral danger:

“The pictures of death from Gaza reach Jenin on television, but young people are killed here as well, almost every week. The latest victim fell in the neighboring village of Al Yamun. Fawaz Frihat was 17 and a half when he died. The IDF invades the city's refugee camp every night, sowing panic and sleeplessness. There are almost no wanted men left here, but the IDF doesn't give up.

“The Palestinian soldiers never dare to enter the camp itself. The residents' bitterness toward the PA is reaching new heights: 'Has the PA already solved the refugee problem? Removed the Israeli occupation? Protected the residents from the IDF? And now only the problem of the stolen vehicles remains,' Zbeidi adds bitterly. After his second car was confiscated, Zbeidi's youngest son, who is around 15, went to the Palestinian police checkpoint and tried to grab a weapon from a policeman. He wanted to avenge the blow to his father's dignity, and in the end was arrested for a few days. It could have been worse.”

The second is an opinion piece about Gaza:

“Has the daily mass killing in Gaza improved the security situation? No, it has only made it worse. Has it reduced the number of Qassams? No, it has led to their proliferation. So why are we killing? We need ‘to do something’ and there needs to be ‘a price tag.’ These are hollow cliches. A review of recent newspapers presents a clear picture: As long as the U.S. president was still in the country, Israel refrained from liquidations, and the number of Qassams decreased. When George Bush left, we resumed killing and, as a result, Sderot has faced the most difficult days it has ever known. The burning question that arises is: What are we killing for?

“For every ‘senior Jihad commander,’ for every Qassam launcher killed, seven others immediately emerge. The killing is useless, and the defense establishment boasts about it only to satisfy public opinion.”

This is not the first time (what we call) our world has seen this kind of thing. It may be the first time it just looks away. Things were no less bloody and hateful in Northern Ireland during the “troubles,” or Sarajevo during the Balkan War. Is it presumptuous to ask what method of cease fire, inclusive negotiation, international force, and investments worked there?


bar_kochba132 said...

Bernie, have you so quickly forgotten the suicide bomber war that killed or wounded THOUSANDS of Israelis? Gidon Levy and Amira Hess are always writing as if Israel sends the IDF into Jenin, Gaza, Shechem and other places in the Palestinian zone simply for the fun of it. Apparently you all have forgotten that this is where the suicide bombers and the Qassam launchers are found. Levy himself mentions that the Palestinian authority doesn't send its forces into Jenin, either. Apparently there is a "problematic situation" there.
If there is grinding poverty there, that isn't Israel's fault. During the "bad Israeli occupation" period before Oslo in 1993, Palestinians had work in Israel and were getting cash straight into their pockets. With the advent of Oslo and the associated deterioration of the security situation, work for the Arabs in Israel dried up, throwing them on the mercies of the Palestinian Authority for sustenance, or, alternatively, to HAMAS. They do give handouts to their followers, in return for loyalty to the organization. The Palestinians have been given more per-capita aid than any other people or country since 1993, yet their economic situation has deteriorated, which suits that Palestinian leaders fine since they can blame Israel for it while they pocketed the money.
But, in the end, Bernie, you know that the terrorists are not movtivate by economic considerations. Many of the extremist Muslim advocates of terror are well-to-do if not wealthy like Bin Land and Zawahiri.
People in Norther Ireland have repeatedly pointed out that there is no comparison between their "troubles" and ours.

Obviously, poverty in the Palestinian territories does not serve Israel's interests, but "strengthening the Palestinian Authority" by throwing cash at Mahmoud Abbas and his gang certainly isn't going to make things any better. Only a real change in Arab attitutes can do that..meaning that the leadership realize that it must stop incitement to violence, which has increased lately on their state television and telling their people that their best interest lie in cooperation with Israel (which isn't going to go away no matter what Nasrallah and the HAMAS leadership keeps promising them) and that THEIR violence is destroying their own society and causing all the miserable things that Gidon Levy is reporting on.

BTW-regarding your suggestion for an "international force" to come in and take care of the Palestinians....isn't this what happened in Iraq? How did that work out? What countries are going to volunteer to send their troops here to fight Arabs in order to protect Israel?

Gene said...

A related view.

ID said...

Bernie, many of us Israelis equate between 'occupation' and 'rape'. Gaza and the West bank are under Israeli Siege and Occupation.
Our politicians fear our violent extreme-right/settlers on one hand, and the international public opinion on the other while repressing the Palestinians. Their main priority is safely walking to re-election throughout their term by working hard not to anger anybody - except for the Palestinians.

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