Monday, January 05, 2009

Teaching Hamas "a Lesson."

The Palestinian death toll yesterday passed the 500 mark as Israel continues it's assault on the Gaza Strip, an assault from which the world's press have been barred from witnessing. No reporters are being allowed in to watch what Israel is doing, despite Israel's Supreme Court on Friday demanding that Israel allow the press to enter the area.

It's hard to even talk about proportionality when Israel killed, "at least 40 more civilians, including children" yesterday alone.

One Israeli soldier was killed near Jabalya in the first hours of the invasion. A further 32 were injured. A total of five Israelis - three civilians and two soldiers - have been killed since last Saturday when the Israeli campaign began.

And all this is occurring because Hamas refused to accept that a ceasefire should continue whilst the Israelis starve the Palestinians for daring to vote for them.

Israel's supporters in the US are applauding tactics that make the rest of us balk. The other day Israel dropped a 2,000-pound bomb on a Gazan home killing a Hamas leader and several members of his family, including his four wives and nine of his children. Where one would expect to hear arguments that, "civilian casualties simply cannot be avoided" one heard the opposite; an embrace of the killing of innocents as a lesson Hamas would do well to learn.

Michael Goldfarb, editor of the Weekly Standard, stated:

The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions.

That's simply horrendous. Leaving aside the attempt to dehumanise the enemy Israel is facing - "it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us" - what we are witnessing here is an American journalist actually applauding the killing of innocents and hoping that Hamas take this as a lesson well learned about how far Israel is prepared to go.

Glenn Greenwald correctly identifies the mindset which Goldfarb is displaying here:

There are few concepts more elastic and subject to exploitation than "Terrorism," the all-purpose justifying and fear-mongering term. But if it means anything, it means exactly the mindset which Goldfarb is expressing: slaughtering innocent civilians in order to "send a message," to "deter" political actors by making them fear that continuing on the same course will result in the deaths of civilians and -- best of all, from the Terrorist's perspective -- even their own children and other family members.

Obviously not all of Israel's supporters are as indifferent to the deaths of innocents as Goldfarb is, but this does represent a new rejection of the proportionality argument. Some of Israel's more deluded supporters are now actually embracing the killing of innocents as a way to teach Hamas a lesson.

And, even accepting that they don't mean what Goldfarb is saying, the Israeli government are repeating the message that Hamas need to "learn their lesson".
Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, said Israel would not accept a ceasefire. "Hamas needs a real and serious lesson. They are now getting it," he told a US television network.
That's a very different war aim from the claimed one of simply stopping rocket fire into Israel, as even people like Peres are now openly stating that one of the aims of this war is to teach Hamas "a lesson".

And what is this "lesson"? They have to accept a ceasefire whilst allowing Israel to continue it's inhumane siege of the Gaza strip in the hope of starving the Palestinians into rising up against them.

That is the lesson Israel hopes to teach Hamas.

Click title for source.

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