Sunday, January 04, 2009

Olmert and Livni Play the Invasion Card.

Yesterday I read this:

Polls also showed rising support for centrist parties, with significant jumps in the approval ratings for the Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, outgoing premier Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak. However, the right-wing Likud, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, still remains in the lead.
So today we read this:
Israeli troops backed by helicopters advanced into Gaza today, a Palestinian witness and the Israeli army said, in the first ground action of an eight-day offensive against Hamas in the Palestinian enclave.
Public opinion in Israel was firmly behind the air strikes, but is more lukewarm about Olmert and Livni's latest vote winning tactic:

An opinion poll this week in the Haaretz newspaper showed support of 71 per cent among the public for continuing air strikes, while 21 per cent backed ground operations as well – the same number who supported a ceasefire.

Keen as Olmert and Livni are to out prove themselves even more hawkish than Netanyahu in order to win the election, it would appear that the Israeli public remember the danger of employing ground troops from the war in Lebanon even as their leaders choose to forget in the hope of winning re-election.

Nor are even the Israelis pretending that this incursion will achieve much:
The IDF Spokesperson's office issued a statement, emphasizing that this stage of the operation will further the goals of the eight-day offensive as voiced by the IDF until now: To strike a direct and hard blow against the Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the IDF, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel over the long term.
An "improved security situation... over the long term". Could you set the bar any bloody lower?

At the beginning of this assault we were told that they were going to "eliminate Hamas" and now all these Palestinians have to die so that Israel can bring about "an improved security situation... over the long term"?

So they are not even promising to end the rocket attacks anymore, simply that the situation will be "improved", and not even improved immediately, but improved "over the long term".

The US, obviously, are offering the usual unconditional support for anything that Israel does, but protests are erupting throughout Europe at this latest Israeli assault on the people of Palestine with the British now adopting the same method of protest as the Iraqi journalist who had enough of listening to Bush.
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in European cities on Saturday against Israel's bombardment of Gaza, including protesters who hurled shoes at the tall iron gates outside the British prime minister's residence in London.
In London, at least 10,000 people, many carrying Palestinian flags, marched past Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street residence to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Outside Downing Street, hundreds of protesters stopped and threw shoes at the gates that block entry to the narrow road.

Shoe-throwing has become a popular gesture of protest and contempt since an Iraqi journalist pelted U.S. President George W. Bush with a pair of brogues in Baghdad last month.
And protests were occurring all over the place:

The London protest was one of 18 that took place across the UK yesterday. There were also rallies in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Athens and several Asian cities.

Nor are these protests simply being made by the general public, European political leaders are also registering their complaints.
France last night was swift to condemn the invasion, which it described as a dangerous military escalation that "complicated efforts by the international community to end the fighting, bring immediate aid to civilians and reach a permanent ceasefire". In London the foreign secretary David Miliband said the intensification of the Israeli assault would cause "alarm and dismay" and renewed calls for a swift cessation of violence.
But all of this protest at Olmert and Livni's cynical attempt to improve their electoral chances by battering the Palestinians will be meaningless as long as Bush is in the White House. This is a man who has never, ever, had even the slightest rebuke for any Israeli action, no matter how severe; so it would be a fool who would expect him to change his tune so late in his presidency.

I have no idea if the election of Obama will bring about a change in America's attitude towards this conflict, but as Glenn Greenwald points out, the political class in the United States - especially the Democrats - are way out of touch with what their supporters feel about this recent conflict.
Not only does Rasmussen find that Americans generally "are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip" (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive -- by a 24-point margin (31-55%).
Of course, the fact that a majority of Democratic supporters oppose this recent Israeli action will not be reflected in anything we hear from Pelosi and the others. It's a very strange democracy where the views of the political class are so out of step with their own supporters. Indeed, where the views of the political class show the kind of uniformity which one would usually expect from the politburo or a parliament headed by Saddam.

We can hope that Obama can bring about change here, but the biggest battle he would face would be amongst the upper echelons of his own party where any criticism of Israel is seen as heresy.


There are also protests within the United States, although the Israeli Federation are calling for demonstrations like this to be "condemned".


Booman offers an explanation as to why the Democrats are so out of step with their supporters:
But 77 percent of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in the November elections. Jewish Americans are divided on the strikes on Gaza, as they are on the Palestinian issue in general. But the Democratic Party doesn't want to undermine their reputation as a reliable defender of Israel. Therefore, the Democrats take the position of uncritical support for whatever Israel does.

The Republican Party's position is equally simplistic. It might seem to defy reason that the GOP would pander to a population that makes up roughly three percent of the electorate (mostly in solidly Blue States) and which votes against them at an over three-to-one clip. But the Republicans aren't pandering to Jewish voters (except those that live in purple Florida), they're pandering to evangelical voters that believe Israel must remain in Jewish hands for Jesus to return and bring Armageddon.

That doesn't explain why the Democratic party ignore the wishes of the majority of the other 97% of their supporters who are not Jewish. And it doesn't address the issue of how immoral it is to support another country no matter what action it takes.

I just find the whole thing odd.

Click title for full article.

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