A few words about Gaza

It’s about Land. Israel is a colonialist settler state supported by the US and the other usual western powers. It has been expanding its borders since its violent inception:

As such the plight of the Palestinians bears many resemblances to the plight of indigenous cultures across the globe, and what they’re resisting, at the end of the day, is the attempted annihilation of their culture and the termination of their way of life (if not their lives). In other words: genocide. Fittingly Israel’s most unwavering support comes from nations likewise built on the theft of land from – and the wholesale slaughter of – indigenous populations: the US, Australia, Canada, followed closely by the expansionist post-imperial states, most notably the UK (which waged its own genocidal campaigns on ‘its’ home soil against the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish as well as the English peasantry):

Bar chart showing the UK arms industry's largest export markets in 2013

Why such eagerness to supply these killers with their weaponry? UK backing of Israel goes way back, and the reasons haven’t changed. Writes historian Mark Curtis:

[I]t was argued in files from 1969 that, even given Britain’s massive stake in oil in the Middle East and the subsequent need to keep friendly relations with Arab despots, Britain’s economic interests in Israel were also a factor. The Joint Intelligence Committee reported in 1969 that:

rapid industrialisation [in Israel] is taking place in fields where British industry can readily supply the necessary capital goods … Israel is already a valuable trading partner with a considerable future potential in the industrial areas where we want to develop Britain as a major world-wide manufacturer and supplier.

Britain’s ambassador to Israel added that:

Israel is already a valuable trading partner for Britain, and … there is a high future potential for our economic relations with her … On the other hand, it seems hard to avoid the conclusion … that our prospects for profitable economic dealing with the Arab states are at best static, and may indeed over the long term inevitably decline.

If this was the case then, it is even more so now, as Britain steps up its trade with Israel, especially in new technologies. It is this priority, together with maintaining special relations with Washington, that defines Whitehall’s stance on the plight of the Palestinians. (Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses, p.157)

Basically they’re white folks like us, and we can do business with them, especially if they stop those uppity Arab nationalists from trying to hold on to their own resources. In related news ‘the [most recent] Israeli offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip has left 134 factories completely destroyed, causing more than $47 million in direct losses and rendering 30,000 workers jobless‘. In other words, they are destroying what’s left of their subsistence base, their only means of independent survival (the illegal settlements have gobbled up most of the land best suited to cultivation, and the destruction of olive groves by specially designed bulldozers has been part of the sadistic collective punishment).

You could do worse than watch this Democracy Now interview with Noam Chomsky for a little more background and honest description of what’s going on in Palestine. Here’s the key passage:

Israeli experts have calculated in detail exactly how many calories, literally, Gazans need to survive. And if you look at the sanctions that they impose, they’re grotesque. I mean, even John Kerry condemned them bitterly. They’re sadistic. Just enough calories to survive. And, of course, it is partly metaphoric, because it means just enough material coming in through the tunnels so that they don’t totally die. Israel restricts medicines, but you have to allow a little trickle in. When I was there right before the November 2012 assault, [I] visited the Khan Younis hospital, and the director showed us that there’s—they don’t even have simple medicines, but they have something. And the same is true with all aspects of it. Keep them on a diet, literally. And the reason is—very simple, and they pretty much said it: “If they die, it’s not going to look good for Israel. We may claim that we’re not the occupying power, but the rest of the world doesn’t agree. Even the United States doesn’t agree. We are the occupying power. And if we kill off the population under occupation, [it’s] not going to look good.” It’s not the 19th century, when, as the U.S. expanded over what’s its national territory, it pretty much exterminated the indigenous population. Well, by 19th century’s imperial standards, that was unproblematic. This is a little different today. You can’t exterminate the population in the territories that you occupy. That’s the dovish position, Weissglas. The hawkish position is Eiland, which you quoted: Let’s just kill them off. [“You cannot win against an effective guerrilla organization when on the one hand, you are fighting them, and on the other hand, you continue to supply them with water and food and gas and electricity. Israel should have declared a war against the de facto state of Gaza, and if there is misery and starvation in Gaza, it might lead the other side to make such hard decisions.”]

The indigenous struggle, I’m thinking, should not be seen as referring only to tribes on the frontiers of civilisation, but as something ongoing in the living situations of the poor and disenfranchised who make up the lower ranks of the civilised. At base is some element of control over your own life, which grants a certain sense of security. This might come from growing or gathering your own food or it might come from a reasonably steady job in a factory (it might have to come that way if you’ve been shunted off the land through enclosure or other means). But the powers-that-be hate this kind of independence: they want you insecure, they want you dependent – on them and the ‘services’ they provide (at such a reasonable cost) – that way they’ve got you where they want you: working your fingers to the bone to satisfy their insane fantasies of wealth, notoriety and domination*.

That’s why the phrase ‘we’re all Palestinians now’ makes sense to me.

*****

A few more words about resistance.

Tim Holmes has an excellent article on the backlash against Lib Dem MP David Ward who made the mildest possible attempt to empathise with the Palestinian people and try to understand the motivation of those who choose violent means of resistance. He tweeted: ‘The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes’ and all hell broke loose in the dominant political culture with near unanimous calls for his expulsion from the party and one report to the police from Tory MP Nadim Zahawi for supposed ‘encouragement of terrorism’.

As Holmes points out this provides a textbook example of a phenomenon memorably identified in the ‘premises’ of Derrick Jensen’s 2006 book, Endgame:

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims. (link)

Do I need to explain how this applies to the Israel-Palestine conflict? If you’ve paid any attention to corporate media coverage over the last few weeks you can’t fail to have noticed the prominence given to Israeli deaths, funerals, grieving relatives etc. – even when these were soldiers killed whilst invading and brutalising Gaza – and only token gestures offered to Palestinian victims with Israeli justifications and denials given full prominence (C4 news presenter Jon Snow followed an analysis-free expression of compassion for Palestinian civilians with an interview a few days later of a Hamas official which attempted to make the issue entirely about their response: ‘Why are you encouraging [Israel] by continuing to fire your ineffective rockets?’) Feelings of empathy have been shepherded towards the Israeli population suffering the indignity of air raid sirens and bomb shelters, cowering in fear from the threat of rocket attacks. “Would you put up with this happening to you in your own home?” Except it isn’t their fucking home! They live in occupied territory which was stolen from the original inhabitants. Obviously they should have known to expect some form of reprisal. Meanwhile the colossal violence meted out on their behalf apparently merits little or no empathic outreach. No shrieks of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ here. No comparison to the Blitz or the Nazi occupation of Europe. And yet we should all be worried because another reason we’re all Palestinians is that Gaza and the occupied territories are where the elites road test all their military hardware as well as their techniques for crowd control and suppression of dissent (sorry I don’t have a source for this – I’ve heard it argued in various places, with specific examples of tactics and hardware used against UK demonstrators as well as the lucrative ‘battle tested’ stamp of approval for military technology). They have it over there and soon we’ll have it over here…

So yes, resistance. Chomsky argues that the primary goal should be to minimise, or at least not worsen the suffering of the victims, but makes the crucial point that it’s not for outsiders to dictate how Palestinians will or will not respond:

it’s very easy to recommend to victims, “You be nice guys.” That’s cheap. Even if it’s correct, it’s cheap. What matters is what we say about ourselves. Are we going to be nice guys? That’s the important thing, particularly when it’s the United States, the country which, quite rightly, is regarded by the—internationally as the leading threat to world peace, and the decisive threat in the Israeli case.

But he appears to believe that strict nonviolence is the best strategy in this instance (albeit a focus on Israeli nonviolence). At least his reasons for discouraging a violent response are apparently tactical rather than ideological. Other commentators have noted the reluctance of the Israeli public to tolerate military casualties. It seems that militants have gotten better at exacting a toll on ground troop invasions – around 65 this time and not all through friendly fire for a change. Now it might jeapardise my future career prospects in politics to say this but… Good. They got what was coming to them. A soldier invading another sovereign territory on a brutal mission of collective punishment, involving shelling of schools, hospitals, mosques, UN shelters and the levelling of whole neighbourhoods, is fair game if anyone is. If higher casualty rates lead to a greater reluctance to pursue similar tactics in the future, so much the better.

But maybe that’s just me, and I leave Palestinian activists and civilians to make their own decisions and trust them to know how best to react in their situation, of which, I admit, I have only the dimmest comprehension.

—————

* – Although, as Chomsky cautions, there are times when the occupying power might not even want you for slave labour. They might want you out of the picture permanently:

In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by “apartheid” you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse. There’s a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce. It was 85 percent of the workforce of the population, and that was basically their workforce. They needed them. They had to sustain them. The bantustans were horrifying, but South Africa did try to sustain them. They didn’t put them on a diet. They tried to keep them strong enough to do the work that they needed for the country. They tried to get international support for the bantustans.

The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just don’t want them. They want them out, or at least in prison. And they’re acting that way. That’s a very striking difference, which means that the apartheid analogy, South African apartheid, to the Occupied Territories is just a gift to Israeli violence. (ibid.)

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18 Responses to “A few words about Gaza”

  1. chashopkins Says:

    “We’re all Palestinians now” speaks to the heart of what is wrong with western society, we are all repressed/oppressed slaves to the system, the only way to break out is to become the best capitalist you can be and make enough profit off the backs of others to do what you want.

    Q: What invention of western society is the most pernicious, the closest to real evil, the oppressor of billions?

    A: The Limited Liability Company. A license to exploit without consequences.

  2. Ian M Says:

    Thanks Chas, good to ‘meet’ you.

    Not sure that being ‘the best capitalist you can be’ actually breaks you out of the system. Seems to me that would simply enmesh you even deeper. But maybe you meant something different by ‘breaking out?

    Amen on the limited liability company.

    cheers,
    I

  3. chashopkins Says:

    Hi Ian, by breaking out I suppose I meant that if you have enough wealth then the system no longer applies to you, there are no rules to which you are beholden that can’t be excepted by wealth. I’m not suggesting this is a good thing. In “normal” society a lot of people gauge their status by material things: their salary, their house value, their pension value, their perceived car value, savings etc. A lot of other people gauge their status by a lack of these things and hence this fuels a sense of injustice.

    I suspect many would like to get off the hamster wheel and/or the status ladder if there was a viable alternative. The UK is something like the 5th richest nation yet there are hundreds of thousands malnourished or dependent on foodbanks. The obscene thing is that our society could not function without that bottom rung, without 2 million unemployed propping up everyone else.

    “You” might be on a higher rung, but the hypothetical you is still a palestinian because you’re propping up those above you. By the same light we are all Israelis now because in our society you have to be complicit in exploitation of those below you in some way or other.

    Many would agree with the sentiments above but most will shrug in resignation and ask what the alternative is. I haven’t the answers but I can’t accept that, I’m still looking.

    Anyway, mini-rant over, liked your piece and will follow from now on.

    Cheers fella.

  4. Ian M Says:

    Hi, thanks for fleshing that out – we’re more or less in agreement I think. Although from what I understand the 1% have their own ‘system’ or code of conduct which is pretty rigidly defined, with severe punishments for those who step out of line (Just look at Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi).

    By the same light we are all Israelis now because in our society you have to be complicit in exploitation of those below you in some way or other.

    Yes, good point, that was bothering me about the ‘we’re all Palestinians’ statement: it creates an ‘in group’ but who is the ‘out group’ and where do you draw the dividing line between ‘them’ and ‘us’? Some would oppose any kind of division in this way, insisting that ‘we’re all one’ and the answer is to break down all illusory barriers of this sort, but I don’t buy that any more. It’s pretty cut and dried in Gaza but more complex in other places, with, as you say, the oppressed participating in an oppression of their own on those lower in the hierarchy. Thatcher’s sell-off of the council houses strikes me as one example, where those who benefited from the new ‘property-owning democracy’ suddenly got on board with a raft of measures they would once have bitterly opposed.

    I don’t have many answers myself, but it seems like the benefits traditionally enjoyed by the middle class have been crashing around their ears lately, and some day soon they might look around and wonder what exactly they’re getting from this deal any more. I can’t see how things will continue in the same way if they no longer provide the buffer between the elites and the rebellious masses. Could be very interesting!

    cheers, and glad to have you on board 🙂
    I

  5. leavergirl Says:

    Ian, both side in the Palestine conflict carry bad karma from the past. What you need to stress is that the large areas that were once “Palestine” is the settlement UN offered to the Palestinians, right after the war or thereabouts. Today, it looks like a win. But they refused it. Howz that for shooting themselves in the foot? They refused to consider geopolitical realities, and preferred to be “right” while harming themselves in the process…

  6. leavergirl Says:

    Apropos our conversation about burning forests in England… here is how the Karens of Thailand do it. Could be more northern peoples once used those techniques as well.
    http://www9.ocn.ne.jp/~aslan/karen/karenpmp.htm

  7. Ian M Says:

    Hey, sorry for slow reply – away on hols.

    Yes, I’m aware there are some problems with the sequence of maps and what they represent. For example the first one might suggest a fully independent, autonomous Palestinian state, whereas it had up until that point been colonised by the British (previously by the Ottomans). Nonetheless IMO it still provides a striking image of the land swallowed up by Israel over the years, which is the main reason I used it.

    I’m pretty sketchy on the UN settlement and the early history but a quick look at wiki shows me that the 1946 Jewish population owned 6-7% of the land with 70% classed as ‘crown lands’ or public property and the rest split between Arabs, Christians and others. The UN proposal appears to gift the Jewish population around half of the entire country. Of course the Arab leadership refused to accept it! Can you imagine what would happen if something similar happened in the US? (I mean modern murca – clearly something very similar happened to the native peoples.)

    They refused to consider geopolitical realities, and preferred to be “right” while harming themselves in the process…

    This sounds like blaming the victim (correct me if I’m wrong) – surely the harm came from the conquest of their land rather than from their resistance to it, no? There’s also the question of whether Israel would have respected the proposed UN boundary for long, as subsequent behaviour suggests not.

    Thanks for the Karen link, v. interesting to read in depth about a swidden culture, and even more interesting to see the preservation of animistic perceptions and respect for the land and other creatures in an essentially grain-based society. The Evans book talked about the possibility of fire-based rotational agriculture in N.Europe and Britain at the onset of the Neolithic revolution (evidence of charcoal and wheat pollen), but it seems doubtful it would have looked the same as in tropical Thailand.

    You czech (sic) out that documentary I sent yet?

    cheers,
    I

  8. Ian M Says:

    Well waddaya know: ‘Israel says it will expropriate 4 sq km (1.5 sq miles) of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank‘.

    The decision to appropriate land south of Bethlehem is believed to be the largest seizure by Israel in 30 years.

    The military-run local administration said it was a response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in the area in June.

    […]

    The takeover of the land in the area of Gush Etzion clears the way for expansion of a settlement named Gevaot.

    Local Israeli settlements said they hoped to build on the land, which Palestinian officials said included many olive groves.

    Interestingly the US, UK and UN have made public statements opposing this move, so we’ll see if they follow through or not. Meanwhile George Galloway, an independent MP who has been very vocal in support of Palestine has been brutally assaulted in the street by a man wearing an IDF t-shirt. The response from parliament has been silence. Galloway tweeted:

    Labour leader Milliband just passed me, struggling on the stairs with my walking stick, looked straight at me and walked on without a word…

    More violence going down the hierarchy…

    (Most of these links come via the invaluable media lens message board fyi)

  9. leavergirl Says:

    Will write re amazing “Indian” vid!

    Well, I would not call it conquest. It began as a call for escaping the pogroms in the Ukraine. People just started to move there. Happens all the time. (Are Mexicans “conquering” the US by moving here like crazy? Permit or no permit?) The local Arabs, now known as Palestinians, not sure how that name got coined, let it happen… and it’s hard to know what they could have done otherwise.

    Early on, the Jews coexisted pretty successfully. But once the numbers swelled, and the international opinion went their way during the war… things went to hell. There was a lot of racism among the Jews, anti-Arab.

    It’s a sorry mess, and I have no idea what might be done. But the refusal to recognize Israel… how does that not feed the flames of the conflict? When I had conversations about this with pro-Isreal Jews here in the States, they would say, if Israel did not fight back, they’d have been overrun and wiped out. And being shot at from across the river or Golan Heights, any time? That too is real. On the other hand, I think that if people stopped sending money to Israel, they’d quickly find a solution.

    The part I don’t understand is how Israel was given leeway to be a a sort of theocracy… why wasn’t the population, both Arab and Jew, expected to live together in democratic representation, politically speaking?

    Well, nuff said. Now I am watching the warmongers destroying Ukraine. Sigh.

  10. Ian M Says:

    Been re-reading John Newsinger’s chapter on Palestine in The Blood Never Dried. Doesn’t go as far as the UN proposal but lots of useful stuff on the Brits & Zionists. As an immigration issue, turns out it’s quite different to Mexicans into US or East Europeans & Africans into UK because the Jews were parachuting onto the top of the social/economic order rather than attempting to scrape by at the very bottom:

    Between 1920 and 1939 the Zionists purchased more than 846,000 dunams of land, which brought the amount of Jewish-owned land to 1,496,000 dunams. While this was only 5 percent of the country’s total land area, it was a fifth of the arable land […] what this meant was that in 1935 each Jewish colonist had an average of 28.1 dunams, while each Palestinian had only 9.4 dunams. This transfer of land into Zionist hands inevitably resulted in increased poverty and landlessness for the Arab population. Moreover, with the explosion in Jewish immigration came an influx of Jewish capital that led “to an excessively high rate of inflation when agricultural wages were severely depressed”. And, of course, the Arabs were not just evicted from their land, but were also confronted by the Jewish-labour only policy of the Histadrut, the Zionist trade union movement. Employers who took on Arab workers were picketed, often violently, in an attempt to drive them out. Even when they were employed Arab workers were paid considerably less than Jewish workers. For many Arab families, the shanty slums that grew up around the towns and cities became home […] in 1935 in Haifa alone, there were 11,000 families living in these new slums. (p.130)

    The Brits had promised independent self-governance to the Palestinians in return for fighting the Ottomans in WW1. Instead they sold them out with the Balfour declaration which promised ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ with not even the pretense of consultation with the Arab leadership:

    The Zionist settlement was from the beginning [of the British mandate, 1922] allowed to function as a state within a state, even to the extent of establishing its own militia, the Haganah. The British treated the Zionists’ Jewish Agency , as if it was a government in waiting. As for the Arabs, they found themselves with “no voice or say in the government of the country”. One British official, \ernest Richmond, wrote home that the Arabs were starting:

    To regard the government as Jewish camouflaged as English. They will not accept Jewish rule. We deny them all the representative institutions which they enjoyed under the Turks… The country is in a ferment. (p.126)

    The response was a huge, sustained rebellion from 1936-1939 which included the longest general strike in history at 175 days as well as protracted guerrilla warfare. The British response was typically brutal:

    From 1938 into 1939 the Great Rebellion was relentlessly ground down. Villages were bombed […] one RAF squadron alone dropped 768 20lb and 29 112lb bombs and fired over 62,000 rounds in operations against rebel targets. Thousands of Palestinians were interned without trial, harsh collective punishments were imposed on whole communities, routine use was made of Arab hostages as human shields, and ID cards were introduced. Collective punishments were often drastic. After the shooting of an assistant district commissioner in Jenin in August 1938, much of the town was blown up as a reprisal […] much of the village of Kafr Yasif was burned down. When neighbouring villagers came to help put out the fires, they were machine-gunned, and nine of them killed. […] suspects were kept in the open for five days with hardly any water as a punishment. At the end of the five days many of them had collapsed and five were dead.

    The British were, of course, able to call on the assistance of the Zionists in their efforts to crush the revolt […] The Special Night Squads, Jewish volunteers under British officers, were what today would be called “death squads”, torturing and summarily executing prisoners and suspects […] the Revisionists, through their underground militia, The Irgun, carried out a series of terrorist bombings of Palestinian targets […] a bomb killed 21 Arabs in a market in Haifa [..] ten Arabs were killed by a bomb in Jerusalem […] another market bombing in Haifa killed 39 Arabs […] a bomb in Jaffa killed 24 Arabs. (pp.138-9)

    Eventually some concessions were made, with a five-year limit on Jewish immigration at 75,000, to be continued only with the say-so of the Arabs. The Zionists weren’t having that so they turned on the British in their own guerrilla war in 1945-8, seeking military and diplomatic aid from the Soviets and the US (they could no longer call on Nazi Germany with whom they, astonishingly, had a close collaboration based on the shared interest of getting Jews out of Germany and into Palestine.

    On your other points…

    ‘refusal to recognize Israel’ is a propaganda trope. The PLO officially recognised Israel in 1993. Netanyahu has since changed the demand to a recognition of a Jewish state, which is far more problematic because of the the question of what happens to the Arab population inside Israeli borders – see this Haaretz article. Hamas has made multiple ceasefire & longterm truce offers in line with the two-state solution favoured by the majority of the international community. Israel breaks the ceasefires and steadfastly refuses to enter negotiations. But you wouldn’t know it from looking at the major media, which have a long history of relaying the official Israeli truth reversals and marginalising (or demonising) Palestinian voices.

    ‘if Israel did not fight back, they’d have been overrun and wiped out’ = playing the victim (and cynically exploiting fears of anti-semitism). Israel has been the primary aggressor since its inception. Further info: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/information/

    Yes, Ukraine seems in a v. bad way. You been following D.Orlov’s stuff?

    cheers,
    I

  11. leavergirl Says:

    Well, hell, that’s even worse than what I read. Did not know they recognized Israel, thanks for that bit.

    Yeah, been following Ukraine and Flight 17 very closely, Orlov and everywhere else, and I have never seen this barrage of utter and naked propaganda in MSMs before. WSJ, the Economist, what used to be readable if conservative publications are now putting out rank lies and hysterics. They even lied about the Dutch report that just came out. This is unprecendented, in my experience… and Western Europe seems cowed.

    My hope is that it will get so bad some leakers will step out. Did you hear about the Odessa Massacre? No MSMs reported on it here.

    On the other hand, rooting big time for Scotland. You?

  12. Ian M Says:

    Happy to be of assistance 🙂 If you want a bit more reading material, John Pilger recently came out with this article, including more worrying signs from the Israeli leadership:

    Recently, on the website of the Times of Israel were the words: “Genocide is Permissible”. A deputy speaker of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Moshe Feiglin, demands a policy of mass expulsion into concentration camps. An MP, Ayelet Shaked, whose party is a member of the governing coalition, calls for the extermination of Palestinian mothers to prevent them giving birth to what she calls “little snakes”.

    and this brave expression of solidarity with the Palestinian resistance from Dr. Mads Gilbert, ‘a Norwegian doctor renowned for his heroic work in Gaza’:

    On 8 August, Dr. Gilbert returned to his hometown, Tromso in Norway which, as he pointed out, the Nazis had occupied for seven years. He said, “Imagine being back in 1945 and we in Norway did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades, and banishing us to the leanest areas, and taking the fish in the sea and the water beneath us, then bombing our hospitals, our ambulance workers, our schools, our homes.

    “Would we have given up and waved the white flag? No, we would not! And this is the situation in Gaza. This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. It is the Palestinian people’s dignity that they will not accept this.

    “In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews Untermenschen – subhuman. Today, Palestinians are treated as a subhuman people who can be slaughtered without any in power reacting.

    “So I have returned to Norway, a free country, and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons – it’s stated in international law. And the Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza is admirable: a struggle for us all.”

    (See also Pilger’s excellent 2002 documentary, ‘Palestine Is Still The Issue‘.)

    And this speech by Mustafa Barghouti on ‘the destruction of Gaza’ suggests that things are much worse after this recent assault than even previous ones. The whole thing is worth reading, but I’ll just copy out some of the more shocking facts here:

    This was not about one house being destroyed and the house next to it being destroyed.

    This was intentional bombardment by the Israeli army and navy and air force to destroy whole neighbourhoods.

    Shujaya, which was completely destroyed was not a neighbourhood. It was a town, it was a city, with 150,000 people and it was destroyed, one house after another. Every house, every clinic, every mosque, every building was destroyed. Even a home for people with disabilities was destroyed. The destruction was beyond belief, and it is there for people who want to see.

    Huge buildings, of five, six, seven, eight storeys were completely destroyed.

    In my opinion, Israel was using Gaza as a testing ground for its weapons. I have never seen even in films such a level of devastation.

    I saw one bomb which caused a half a square kilometre hole in the ground.

    18,000 homes and buildings were destroyed completely, 41,000 houses partially damaged, 145 schools, eight hospitals, 13 health centres damaged. 180 mosques damaged, 71 destroyed completely. Even cemeteries were bombarded, 10 bombarded, nine Muslim cemeteries, one Christian cemetery. They bombarded the graves. The bones of the people came out of the graves.

    […]

    461,000 people lost their homes. Many of them are still living in shelters. In huge numbers.

    […]

    The population of Gaza is only 1.8 million. If Gaza had the population of the United States, you will be talking about 400,000 killed and 1,934,000 injured, almost two million.

    […]

    They used 21,000 tonnes of explosives. This is equal to two 1 megaton nuclear bombs. Two nuclear bombs basically were dropped on Gaza.

    They used prohibited weapons. Dime bombs, tungsten, depleted uranium, even bombs that throw nails everywhere, so they kill as many people as possible.

    They destroyed water networks, sewage systems, they attacked and destroyed the only electricity station in Gaza. And they created epidemics. Uptil now, in the best case scenario, people in Gaza have electricity for only six hours a day.

    […]

    Israel attacked Gaza in 2006, in 2008, in 2013 and in 2014. In 2014, there was one hundred times more destruction and more explosives than in all three previous wars. Why? Because they are testing the world, they are testing you, they are testing every single person in humanity to see how much you can tolerate.

    This is what the fascists did before. The fascists tested humanity to see how much it would resist and now it is time to resist Israel.

    But, as you note of Ukraine the media are keeping all of this crucial info (and context) from us. “Don’t look at Palestinians in Gaza; don’t look at ethnic Russians in East Ukraine – they’re basically terrorists anyway, attacking the precious democracies in Jerusalem and Kiev! You want to feel sorry for some victims, and safe in the knowledge that ‘we’ are ‘doing something about it’? Here, look at these Yazidis; look at these Syrians – good victims, geopolitically valuable victims”… Brings to mind the late Harold Pinter’s useful saying, here referring to all the post-war military dictatorships supported by the US: ‘It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.’

    re: Scotland: it’s a Yes for me, unsurprisingly. A first step to undo the centuries-long colonisation by the English ruling class. I’m with Frankie: ‘Scotland would no longer have to invade places like Afghanistan for American interests. We’d invade them for heroin.’ :p

    Okay, I’ll stop link-bashing now. Thanks for the chat!
    I

  13. leavergirl Says:

    Btw, a nice link on oaks and acorns. You probably already know it, so just in case. 🙂
    http://oldeuropeanculture.blogspot.ie/2014/11/acorns-in-archaeology.html

  14. Ian M Says:

    Awesome awesome awesome awesome!!!

    Shame there’s still no evidence for acorn consumption in the British Isles or Ireland (although I pointed the author to one contemporary example!)

    Many thanks 🙂

  15. Ian M Says:

    A really excellent article by Jonathan Cook on the Palestinian resistance – political, cultural, military – centered around the town of Jenin:

    http://www.ameu.org/Current-Issue/Current-Issue/2015-Volume-48/The-Art-of-Resistance.aspx

    Sample:

    The relative success of Arna’s pupils in the Battle of Jenin—if we can reduce that bloody mess to such calculations—was surely a legacy of their creativity, fearlessness and resourcefulness, qualities we might conjecture they partly discovered in Arna and Mer Khamis’s workshops. That is certainly what Arna hoped. In the film she can be seen exhorting her pupils to understand that they must know themselves to be truly free, and only when they are free can there be peace. Or as she expresses it: “There is no freedom without knowledge, and no peace without freedom.” This is at the heart of the idea of cultural resistance that shapes the Freedom Theater today.

    […]

    Mer Khamis’s idea of cultural resistance, from what we can infer from the film, does not preclude armed resistance. It offers both an alternative to and a basis for it. Freedom, the very rationale of Arna and Mer Khamis’s theater, depends on informed choice, and therefore the boundaries between art and arms are far from clear-cut.

    In another memorable scene, Mer Khamis invites an Israeli TV crew to come to Jenin to meet his students. The crew agrees, presumably lured by the chance to film the camp’s boys telling Israeli viewers how they have eschewed violence and stone-throwing for the dramatic arts. Instead Ashraf tells the camera the two are inseparable for him: “When I’m on stage I feel like I’m throwing stones. We won’t let the occupation keep us in the gutter. To me, acting is like throwing a Molotov cocktail. On stage, I feel strong, alive, proud.” It echoes Zakaria, the only one of Arna’s Children to survive, who years later explained that the Battle of Jenin—in which he evaded capture for five days by playing dead as Israeli soldiers searched amid the rubble—was the most exciting moment in his life.

    But while Mer Khamis tries to avoid judging his former students for their adult decisions, Youssef’s suicide mission seems to trouble him. Mahmoud, another graduate of the drama project, chose not to join the resistance, unlike his own brothers, preferring to stay home to look after his elderly mother. Mer Khamis presses him to comment on Youssef’s decision, to offer his verdict, as a way, one cannot help but feel, to avoid directly passing judgment himself. Mahmoud observes that his friend’s suicide operation seemed like a liberation from the “prison” that is Jenin. “He felt dead. His brother was killed at home. He said, ‘I’m dead anyway. So if I have to die, I’ll choose the way.’”

    It is the death of Youssef’s spirit that seems to haunt Mer Khamis. His drama project failed Youssef in a way that it did not Ala and Ashraf. Youssef’s hope, his freedom had died before he carried out his attack in Israel. Without freedom, without clarity of thought, he chose the wrong targets: not the occupation army, but four women shopping in a city center.

    Recalls the DGR analysis of the resistance in N.Ireland, where cultural activities like sports, music, and dancing (each suppressed by the Brits) laid crucial foundations for later forms of militant resistance. Scary stuff though – at least from this perspective of relative privilege…

  16. Ian M Says:

    Ilan Pappe: ‘The Nakba: A crime watched, ignored and remembered

    Jimmy Johnson: Settlers Supporting Settlers: Towards an explanation of the US/Israel relationship

  17. Ian M Says:

    Norman Finkelstein on The Real News, discussing the Palestinian rockets:

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13888%5B/i

  18. Jeannette Sharp Says:

    A few words about Gaza | Frequently Found Growing On Disturbed Ground

    […]Trump is a political disaster. But even if he wasn’t, he’s outrageously unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief.[…]

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