Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Re: 'Real' facts on Gaza
Of course both sides lie. If you think the Israelis don't lie, too, then you are a biased observer. (If one side is not willing to lie, i.e. engage in propaganda, in order to win a war, then it doesn't want to win badly enough).
The "truth" is not that Hamas is good and Israel is bad, or vice-versa. We must look objectively at the conflict there, and not fall prey to sensationalism. Objectively, Israel is killing more people, and more civilians, than the Palestinians and Hamas. Objectively, Israel is the stronger party, with a modern, precise, army partly supplied by the USA. Objectively, Israel has set up blockades and roadblocks and controls the supply of food, water, fuel, electricity, and medicine into the territories, and uses this control to punish the Palestinian population; Israel's occasional cessation of blockades is not equal to "humanitarian aid." Objectively, the United States has the power to curb Israel's actions, but it does not, for reasons of its own. Objectively, Hamas are thugs who use terror tactics, (but they're terrible at governing, since that's not what they care about). Objectively, Hamas is seeking to radicalize the Palestinian population and win favor for itself by exacerbating and promoting Israel's tactics of collective punishment, per the standard playbook for insurgencies.
And logically, if Hamas resided only in military-style compounds with "Hamas is here!" spray-painted on them, then the conflict wouldn't last very long, because Israel would simply bomb them to smithereens. So of course Hamas hides among the civilian population. And of course, this will force Israel to kill civilians. How hard Israel actually tries not to kill civilians is a matter for pure speculation. War is unpredictable; and nobody can control each and every frightened and angry soldier's trigger finger. If you want to believe that Israel tries very hard, I would argue that you are at best naive, and at worst a biased observer. After all, you can't drive a tank into a china shop and then declare with any credibility that you tried not to break any plates. There's more than 1 Palestinian for every 2 square meters in Gaza, with a population the same as Manhattan's: 1.5 million. But unlike Manhattanites, Gazans don't live vertically but shoulder-to-shoulder, close to the ground. Close to the fighting.
The question is what do we do with this collection of objective facts and logical conclusions?
If we seek to lionize or demonize one side, then we are letting ourselves be suckers in somebody else's game.
No, the point is not "to defeat terror" -- not unless we objectively define terror as any form of violence committed for political reasons, targeted at innocent civilians, and meant as collective recrimination for the perceived actions of opposition political and military leaders.