Monday, December 29, 2008

Israel's festival of lights

Raze down those olive trees
Bulldoze those houses, please
Build the wall and damn them all
Raze down those olive trees

Israel is currently celebrating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. People eat jelly donuts and cheese. Families get together to light nine special candles in ornamental branched candle-stands. There are four lights on each side and a major light in the middle. As the middle candle is lit on the last night of Hanukkah, observant Jews believe that the Lord will save them from any accidental wrong doing.

Yesterday as the Jewry lit candles on candelabrums and fried more donuts in oil, 70 Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters quietly took off and fired dozens of missiles on the occupied Gaza Strip, killing at least 235 people and injuring hundreds more. The dead included young police officers at their graduation ceremony, school children walking back from school and ordinary Palestinians returning to their homes. There was no warning. Lord doth forgive the Israelis for their transgressions. This is Hanukkah season.

More people are likely to die as the rubble is being cleared. Hospital’s are on the brink. They do not have basic facilities to cope with the scale of the catastrophe. Since 2006 Israel has led a punitive economic blockade of Gaza. That is when Hamas came to power. All imports are banned. Exports of all form are banned. Initially medicines and basic foodgrains were allowed. Later Israel moved to stop even the bare necessities. All borders are sealed. Like ugly sadists, the likes of Ehud Barak, Israel's thuggish defense minister, waited and watched the pressure-cooker situation in Gaza. Human rights went up in slow steam.

In reality Hamas proposed a cease-fire. It repeated the offer last year. A cease-fire means – as the brilliant Israeli columnist Uri Avnery explained: the Palestinians will stop shooting Qassams, the Israelis will stop the incursions into Gaza, the targeted assassinations and the economic blockade. But Israel has its own devilish plans. They don’t like Hamas, so no talks with the folks -- albeit Hamas, however radical, is democratically elected. Instead starve the population, squeeze them and when it doesn’t work – Bomb the hell out of them. This is Hanukkah season.

It is a pity that always works for the Zionist state. Israel knows full well that the neighboring thick rascal Hosni Mubarak won’t say a thing against these bombings. A few days prior to the bloody blitzkrieg in Gaza, the Israeli foreign minister – and PM designate – Tzipi Livni [Daughter of Jewish terrorist Irgun’s Eitan Livni] broke bread with Hosni. Did she explain Israel’s ongoing policy of collective punishment to the Egyptian strongman? Most Arab states remain shallow monarchies and can’t spoil Israel’s holiday party.

Israel’s collective punishment policy is a cold litmus test to see how far can the Palestinian’s take it. This has resulted in silent deaths and untold sufferings for the ordinary folk. As Ali Abunimah, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse writes: In Gaza, Palestinians die[d] silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel.

What the media never question[s] is Israel's idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

The UN has asked Israel to halt its aggression but it won’t stop. You see Israel isn’t exactly Iran. It is a democracy. It can kill at will. These killings show a pattern: Willful targeting of the civilians and a clear violation of the prohibition against willful killings. Willful killings are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention under Article 147 and therefore, a war crime.

Israel’s actions are a gross transgression against both -- humanity and its God. Even in Hanukkah!


[Let's keep the vigil, lest we forget: People in Spain protest]

[Turks condemn the killings]

[Victims of the Israeli adventure]