Shatila camp (Beirut): The 72-hour ceasefire was supposed to get under way on 8/1/14 starting at 8 a.m. local time—but no sooner had it begun than it appeared to collapse. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 30 Palestinians were killed, and dozens more injured, in an Israeli attack near the southern town of Rafah.
[Pope Francis had visited Israel's separation barrier in Bethlehem earlier in the year. The visit had received a huge applause. (Photo: AP)]
If, against all odds, a genuine ceasefire were to actually take place, the pause would allow time for both sides’ fighters to regroup and re-arm. But what of the civilian population of a now substantially destroyed Gaza? Presumably many will try to visit their bombed homes to retrieve some belongings, as we have seen in Syria and Iraq, and many will try finding a place to hide, say, perhaps, a UN school—well, maybe that’s a bad choice. Others may simply stay in their homes and wait to die.
For the invading Zionist forces, they are insured of plenty of munitions both during and after any ceasefire—because the Obama Administration is supporting Israel’s aggression in the Gaza Strip, and it is doing so, in part, by allowing it to tap into local US arms stockpiles. The Israelis will be able to resupply themselves with 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds, stocks that the Pentagon claims “need to be refreshed,” this according to Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, who rejected out of hand this week’s Amnesty International demand that “the US government immediately end its ongoing arms deliveries to Israel, which are providing the tools to commit further serious violations of international law in Gaza.” And not only that. Earlier, the US Senate, by a vote of 100 to 0, passed a resolution drafted by AIPAC expressing support for Israel’s attack on Gaza, a resolution reading in part, “The United States Senate reaffirms American support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel”—and which says not a single word about Palestinian deaths.
Additionally, US politicians are working to provide millions of dollars in supplementary funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile shield. The US Senate Appropriations Committee added $225 million for Iron Dome to a spending bill mainly intended to provide money to handle an influx of thousands of Central American children across the US-Mexico border.
“It is not that Iron Dome is all that effective, it fails 75% of the time,” said one Congressional staffer in an email to this observer earlier this week. “But Congress is under pressure to be seen as supporting Israel, and we’ve got to be seen doing something before we adjourn for five weeks.”
And likewise, as a sop to AIPAC, the White House announced on 7/31/14 that it “strongly opposes” a Republican-crafted emergency spending bill, in part because it contains no funds for Israeli missile defense and other presumed necessities. Earlier in the day the Senate had begun debating a $3.5 billion auxiliary spending measure that included the $225 million in additional funding for Iron Dome when suddenly the White House voiced its opposition to the House version, claiming it “does not include funding for the Department of Defense to support the government of Israel’s request for critical defense needs.”
It was also on 7/31/14, that Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, reminded Mr. Kirby, the illustrious rear admiral, of an unpleasant truth, one that doesn’t normally penetrate Washington’s deaf-dumb-and-blind bubble: “It is deeply cynical for the White House to condemn the deaths and injuries of Palestinians, including children, and humanitarian workers, when it knows full well that the Israeli military responsible for such attacks are armed to the teeth with weapons and equipment bankrolled by US taxpayers.”
But despite all the American government’s massive support for Israel, survival of the apartheid regime is not at all assured. Recently expressed antipathy toward the Zionist state from notables in Europe, South America and parts of Asia seems to be considerably more than just bluster. Israelis are correct in thinking they can no longer count on public opinion, not in Europe or even, to a lesser extent, perhaps, from the American public either. Increasingly the latter are pressuring their Zionist-bought politicians, admittedly on a modest scale still at this point, but in a manner causing them to ponder their electability as Israel continues its descent into a pariah state. A recent Gallup poll found a majority of Americans less than 30 years of age believe Israel’s actions in Gaza to be unjustified and criminal. This is because younger Americans have grown up witnessing a US-armed-and- propped-up Israel brutally occupying the West Bank, killing Palestinians, while also invading Lebanon in numerous, periodic attacks that claimed more than 30,000 lives between 1948 and 2006.
In aggregate, Americans still see Israel favorably…but in smaller numbers, while more are viewing it as illegitimate, as a 19th century colonial enterprise with no legitimate place in a civilized international society. “Delegitimisation,” says Einat Wilf, a former Israeli parliamentarian and one of the authors of an as-yet-unpublished study of the topic at the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) in Jerusalem, is becoming “a strategic threat”.
As Robert Fisk pointed out this week, “Gaza, which is being so graphically covered by journalists that our masters and our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic, but fear of their own television viewers and readers – ordinary folk so outraged by the war crimes committed against the women and children of Gaza that they are demanding to know why, even now, television moguls and politicians are refusing to treat their own people like moral, decent, intelligent human beings.”
From Antwerp to Warsaw, demonstrators’ placards have ranged from criticism of Israeli policy (“1,2,3,4, Occupation No More”) to condemning Israel itself (“5,6,7,8, Israel is a Terror State”). A growing percentage of the world’s population is coming to the conclusion that the regime occupying Palestine is a mistake and that history must be corrected. As The Economist recently reported, France is experiencing major unrest, which may be no surprise given that it claims the largest Jewish and Arab populations in Europe, but the extent of the tensions in France, including attacks on synagogues and raids on Jewish shops, has been shocking nonetheless. Even in normally sedate Oslo, the Jewish museum closed its doors.
Frankly, it comes as no great surprise then that many Jews feel that the world is against them, and view criticism of Zionist apartheid Israel as a mask for animosity towards Jews. In this they are very wrong. Let them visit the Middle East, in peace, and they will learn quickly that the rejection here is not at all about Jews, but only about Zionism as a fascist, racist creed. What people of good will reject, in the Middle East as elsewhere, is an antiquated movement that promotes a chosen people’s right to steal land belonging to others while ethnically cleansing an indigenous population; a movement that encourages chants of “Death to Arabs” among school children, whose settlers organize ‘fun-days,’ gathering as spectators to observe Zionist forces slaughtering Arab children in Gaza, as teachers hand out balloons and ice cream while leading the children in hate filled songs.
International public opinion matters. And much of it relating to the carnage being inflicted by those illegally occupying Palestine is right. The international public is increasingly aware that what is happening in Palestine today is not really about Hamas; it is not about rockets; it is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.
Having created a huge open-air prison in Gaza, PM Netanyahu now claims that Israel cannot relinquish security control of the West Bank for fear of Islamist attack—meaning that the Zionist occupiers intend to consolidate their illegal occupation, thus withdrawing all hope from Palestinians.
This region, and increasingly the global community as a whole, is planning for a post-Zionist Middle East and how best to achieve it without further suffering. The Zionist regime can stop the slaughter in Gaza; it can withdraw from Palestinian lands through agreement with international norms and UN resolutions, or, sooner or later, it will very likely cease to exist.
Franklin P. Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut and Board Member, The Sabra Shatila Foundation and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Beirut-Washington DC Email: firstname.lastname@example.org