NEWS & VIEWS ROUNDUP: January 2

Israel launches fresh attacks in seventh day of fighting

Israel bombed a mosque and the homes of at least half a dozen Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip on Friday and allowed foreign passport holders to leave the ravaged territory, as speculation rose that a ground assault could be imminent.

A day after an airstrike killed a senior Hamas leader — the first from the militant group known to have died during the Israeli assault — Hamas continued to launch rockets into Israel, with several missiles landing in the southern city of Ashkelon. No deaths or serious injuries were reported. [continued…]

Israel running out of aerial targets

Six days in, Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza shows little sign of abating. Israeli warplanes have flown more than 500 sorties, killing over 400 Palestinians and wounding hundreds. Israeli bombs have rained down on Gaza’s 1.5 million people from air and sea.

But with fewer targets left to strike – yesterday Israel bombed a mosque, the education ministry, the transportation ministry as well as the parliament building – a ground invasion would now appear imminent. [continued…]

Al Jazeera: B’Tselem questions Israeli account of attack

Al Jazeera: Palestinians brave Israeli assault to return home

Al Jazeera: Imprisoned in Gaza

West Bank anger over Gaza raids

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank have joined demonstrations after a call from Hamas for a “day of wrath” against the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Protests have also been held around the Muslim world after Friday Prayers. [continued…]

An alliance of values

Listening to the feelings expressed by Muslims around the world one gets a sentiment of anger and revolt mixed with a deep sense of helplessness. The current massacres are but a confirmation of the well-known: the “international community” does not really care about the Palestinians, and it is as if the state of Israel, with the support of the US and some European countries, has imposed a state of intellectual terror. Among the presidents and kings, nobody dares to speak out; nobody is ready to say the truth. All are paralysed by fear.

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sometimes perceived, and experienced, as critical to the relationship between the west and Islam, many Muslims no longer know how to react. Is it a pure political conflict? What does Islam have to do with it? Should we make it an Islamic concern to call upon the ummah?

Muslims around the world are facing three distinctive phenomena. First, in the Muslim-majority countries or in the west, they see they can expect no reaction from governments, especially from the Arab states. Theirs is the guilty silence of the accomplice, the hypocrisy, the contempt for Palestinian lives. Second, western media coverage is alarming, with the majority buying the Israeli story: two equally powerful belligerents, with the victim of aggression (Israel) acting in self-defence. What a distortion! Yet the third phenomenon is interesting: while 73% of Europeans were backing Israel in 1967, more than 67% are supporting the Palestinians today. With time, understanding and sensitivity have moved: populations are not blindly following the games and hypocritical stands of their political elites. [continued…]

Yossi Sarid / If you (or I) were Palestinian

This week I spoke with my students about the Gaza war, in the context of a class on national security. One student, who had expressed rather conservative, accepted opinions – that is opinions tending slightly to the right – succeeded in surprising me. Without any provocation on my part, he opened his heart and confessed: “If I were a young Palestinian,” he said, “I’d fight the Jews fiercely, even by means of terror. Anyone who says anything different is telling you lies.”

His remarks sounded familiar – I had already heard them before. Suddenly I remembered: About 10 years ago they were uttered by our defense minister, Ehud Barak. Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy had asked him then, as a candidate for prime minister, what he would do had he been born Palestinian and Barak replied frankly: “I would join a terror organization.”

This is not my own answer; terrorism by individuals or organizations or states is always aimed at exacting casualties in a civilian population that has not drawn any blood. Not only is terror blind – consuming both the saint and the sinner – it also expands the circle of the hot-headed, whose blood rises to their brains: Our blood is on their heads, their blood is on our heads. And when an account of the blood of the innocent is opened, who can pay it in full, and when?

I hate all the terrorists in the world, whatever the purpose of their struggle. However, I support every active civil revolt against any occupation, and Israel too is among the despicable occupiers. Such revolt is both more just and more effective, and it does not extinguish one’s spark of humanity. And perhaps I’m just too much of an old codger to be a terrorist.

But, and pay attention to this but, if a normative young person has a spontaneous answer that is different from mine, and that answer also escaped the mouth of an Israeli lieutenant general, then every individual must see himself as though his son is running with the wrong crowd. If things were the other way around, our son-whom-we-loved would be a damned terrorist, almost certainly, because he is of the third and fourth generation of refugeehood and oppression, and whence cometh salvation? He has nothing to lose but his chains. [continued…]

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