Sat, Aug 02, 2014 - Page 8

Asymmetrical war in Gaza

Chaim Melamed’s letter concerning protests in Taiwan against Israel’s war on Gaza is an excellent example of the pro-Israeli propaganda used to justify and legitimize a wholly asymmetrical conflict between splintered, factional militant groups fighting from an enclave under siege and one of the world’s most powerful military forces, a regional superpower armed with nuclear weapons (Letter, July 31, page 8).

Hamas and other groups have light arms, mortars and crude rockets with no warheads, while Israel has a US-equipped army, navy and air force, including tanks, cruise missiles and helicopter gunships. Under any definition of warfare, the result is less a battle than an outright massacre, as can be seen in how more than 1,200 Gazans have been killed, compared with about 50 Israelis.

Whole neighborhoods in Gaza have been leveled, yet not one building in Israel has suffered more than cosmetic damage.

Documented evidence that Israel not only fails to distinguish between civilians and combatants, alongside its deliberate targeting of at least two UN schools housing refugees from the bombardment, killing and maiming of scores of women and children, drive the growing calls for Israel to be investigated for war crimes.

International opinion, usually solidly and unreflectively supportive of Israel, regardless of the immorality and disproportionality of its lethal apartheid policies of biological warfare, siege, occupation and illegal settlement, has swung against it following the shocking expose of how it targeted and murdered four Palestinian children playing on a beach.

As a result, Israeli diplomats and pro-Israeli activists have found themselves on the back foot. Unused to being criticized by foreign media outlets and governments, they express indignation at anyone who even suggests the onus is on Israel to show a modicum of restraint and humanity. In the process, their Islamophobia, racism and outright bloodlust have risen to the surface.

Melamed’s piece contains blatant falsehoods.

UN officials have not found rockets in UN schools and there is no evidence that Hamas fires rockets from hospitals or mosques. Furthermore, Israel has admitted that Hamas did not kill the three Israeli settler children and the reason that Hamas recently resumed rocket attacks was in response to the Israeli Defense Forces murder of Nadem Syam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, during protests in front of the Ofer Military Prison on Nakba Day.

I guess for Melamed, those children were “terrorists” despite neither of them participating in the protests.

It is revealing that the reason for Israel’s attack on Gaza has also changed; from revenge for the deaths of the children to striking back after rocket attacks, and most recently, to destroying tunnels from Gaza into Israel. The more reasons they manufacture, the more it becomes clear that suppressing Gaza, militarily or otherwise, is a long-term policy and not an act of defense.

Melamed’s most horrifying and insulting comment — that Palestinians are not the victims of ethnic cleansing because “there are more of them now” — only illustrates the utter depravity of Israeli extremists. Had someone said the same of the Israeli population growth between 1948 and today, they would rightly be accused of vicious, cold-blooded anti-Semitism.

Between 1945 and 1948, Israeli terrorist groups such as Irgun and the Stern Gang carried out a policy of evicting Palestinians from their homes, including massacres of entire families and villages, in order to allow the land to be annexed by the new State of Israel.

Between 700,000 and 1 million people were forced into refugee camps abroad or permanent exile. Today, Israel continues that policy by building illegal settlements in the West Bank. Is this not the very definition of “ethnic cleansing?”

Finally, if Melamed wants to discuss the plight of Taiwan, perhaps he should ask why Israel was happy to sell high-technology military equipment, knowledge and arms to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against the wishes of the US — upon whose technology those arms were developed.

Israel faces an implacable foe — a community of people who refuse to allow the illegal occupation of their land to go unanswered. Under any measure of international law, people who have been occupied by force and murderously suppressed have every right to resist, by whatever means necessary.

The real “terrorists” then are those who deny facts of history to reify their colonization of another people in the hope that — if they hang on long enough — people will come to accept it as reality and not question the immorality, injustice and illegality of such an occupation.

Jewish people have every right to live in Palestine, but the State of Israel has no more international legal right to exist than the PRC has to invade and annex Taiwan.

Ben Goren