How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison

Jonathan Cook writes: It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli military doctrine known as “Dahiya”, has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting.

According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help.

Roads, schools and the electricity plant to power water and sewerage systems are in ruins. The cold and wet of winter are approaching. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza.

Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans? [Continue reading…]

Where else?

How about Lebanon, buckling under the strain of supporting 1.5 million Syrian refugees and where 200,000 children are being forced to work in a situation “perilously close to slave labour.”

I point this out not to diminish concern about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, but because among pro-Palestinian activists in the West, a myopic fixation on those who have suffered at the hands of Israelis has often come with an apparent indifference towards those whose misery was precipitated by the brutal rule of one of Israel’s next door neighbors.

How much concern there is about those who suffer sometimes appears to depend on who caused the suffering.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

6 thoughts on “How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison

  1. BillVZ

    Next door neighbors, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria –I am presuming Syria(?)..”indifference towards those whose misery was precipitated by the brutal rule of one of Israel’s next door neighbors.” There are many suffering at the hands of those whose brutal rule of their masters around the world and I suppose a lot of ‘indifference’ about what goes on. However, as you say-“ there is concern about those who suffer sometimes appears to depend on who caused the suffering”. You seem to disregard the Super Max Prison lead article to pad your ‘a myopic fixation on those who have suffered at the hands of Israelis’.
    In the case of the Palestinians who have suffered for decades it does depend on who caused the suffering- Israel! There is no ‘myopic fixation’ or indifference regarding others brutality – Israel stands alone on their treatment of the Palestinian people they wish to eliminate and land they which to assume . How the rest of the world has let this go on for so long is beyond me-The myopic fixation and indifference, I sugges,t applies, more aptly to them.

  2. Carl

    “How much concern there is about those who suffer sometimes appears to depend on who caused the suffering.”

    “Concern about those who suffer” is empty moralism, rather than genuine concern, unless it is concern about one’s own responsibility for the suffering and about what one can do to stop the suffering. Genuine concern about suffering must therefore be based on who is causing the suffering and why, because the question of why and why raises the question of responsibility.

    Responsible (i.e., genuinely concerned) Americans understand that when Israel causes suffering, they themselves bear indirect responsibility for the suffering because American taxpayers finance the infliction of suffering and the American government actively shields Israel from the normal consequences of this infliction in various international for a like the United Nations. This is not the case when the government of Lebanon inflicts suffering. It follows that Americans can, at least in theory, do something to stop Israeli-inflicted suffering because our government is, at least in theory, responsive to the will of ordinary Americans. Again, this is not the case with Lebanese-inflicted suffering.

    So elevated concern over those who suffering at the hands of Israel is not a “myopic fixation” but an expression of moral reasoning, as opposed to moral posturing.

  3. Paul Woodward Post author

    Suppose you have no training in CPR or first aid and you’re driving down a country road and see a car wreck with injured passengers. You have no responsibility for the accident and you’re sure you have no life-saving skills, so do you just call 911 to report the accident but keep on driving? Is that how you’d apply your moral reasoning?

    Sure American taxpayers have a measure of complicity in Israel’s actions when we supply their weapons, but only those who are delusional can look at the turmoil that currently emanates from Syria across the region and say this is their problem not ours so we should not involve ourselves. Yet since Assad started bombing his own population, the U.S. and other Western governments have for the most part stood by idly mostly because the disaster of the war in Iraq has reinforced public opinion that intervention is necessarily doomed. The desire for no more war has been coupled with a desire to shut our eyes.

    Cook is simply wrong when he claims that the Palestinian territories are unique when it comes to international indifference about human suffering. And what I am pointing out is that among the few who have championed the cause of Palestinian solidarity, their silence in response to Syria is in large part the product of wearing political blinkers.

    One of the commonly cited reasons for maintaining some form of neutrality in the Syrian conflict has been that the opposition has become dominated by Islamists. OK, but if that’s so problematic, how can the same people overlook the fact that when Israel attacks Gaza, the majority of the Palestinians who fight back are also Islamists.

    BTW – On Lebanon, the U.S. is involved to a degree about which you are apparently unaware: the U.S. provides the Lebanese government with 75% of of all international military aid.

  4. Paul Woodward Post author

    For many years it has been an article of faith among those who pay close attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that the plight of the Palestinians is unique, the depth of their suffering unparalleled, and the effects of this injustice being the most politically consequential feature of the Middle East. Indeed, the conflict and its resolution have been made synonymous with the Middle East.

    If that was ever in reality the case, it has become clear that it is no longer true. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians would have little regional effect. The conflict is merely an example of what the whole region lacks: representative government.

    The Israelis complain about being singled out. Fair enough. In many ways they’re no worse than the Saudis or Iranians — each feels equally threatened by democracy.

  5. Carl

    “The Israelis complain about being singled out. Fair enough. In many ways they’re no worse than the Saudis or Iranians — each feels equally threatened by democracy.”

    No, not “fair enough” – because it is the Israelis themselves who single themselves out, as representatives of so-called enlightened “Western values”, as having “the most moral army in the world,” of being a “light unto nations”, “the only democracy in the Middle East”, and so on. And of course, the Western media and Western politicians grab this ball and carry it to the United Nations, where it is used to shield Israel from the consequences of its atrocities against Palestinians, and to solicit money and weapons paid for by American taxpayers. In short, Israel singles itself out as the embodiment of Western legal and moral norms that are invoked to condemn other perpetrators of atrocities in various obscure corners of the world.

    Furthermore, when Israel commits its atrocities, in Lebanon, the West Bank and especially in Gaza, the atrocities occur in broad daylight under the spotlight of non-stop media coverage – and they are inflicted in the name of the rule of law, as necessary to protect “our shared values”.

    None of this is true when a government in Africa or Syria or Iraq commits atrocities, and the moral character of an atrocity is at least in part conditioned upon where and how it occurs and who did it.

    When an atrocity is committed in broad day light by a country that claims to embody enlightened Western values (i.e., our values) and the rule of law, the moral character of the act is morally worse than it would otherwise be if perpetrated in the darkness of night in relative obscurity. I say “worse” not because its victims are less valuable than Israel’s victims, but because when Israel, as a country that purports to represent the highest standards of international conduct, commits atrocities – and gets away with it – the standards are themselves degraded. Degrading standards is morally worse than violating standards. (It is critical to notice here that Israel has devoted divisions of its military structure for this explicit purpose – to water down international standards by creating various exceptions to the rules. A good recent example is Israel’s use of the “knock on the roof” missiles fired at homes that are about to be destroyed, supposedly to warn the occupants to leave. Those who don’t heed the warning and stay in their homes are considered “enemy combatants” rather than civilians and thus a legitimate target, international law notwithstanding. The whole point is to degrade international standards so that the slaughter of civilians in their homes is considered legitimate.

  6. Paul Woodward Post author

    Much of what you say, Carl, is correct, but you’re being swept away by your own self-righteous indignation when you miss the irony of me comparing the Israelis to the Saudis and the Iranians. Moreover, for those who believe that Israel must be held to a higher standard because of its affiliation with the West, what exactly does this say about your view of the rest of the region? Why is it that the human rights of these populations are of so much less concern to you?

    When you say “the moral character of an atrocity is at least in part conditioned upon where and how it occurs and who did it,” that suggests that you probably find Assad’s use of barrel bombs much less problematic than Israel firing missiles on Gaza. The bombs are not American-made, the perpetrators and victims are Syrian, and the international media is not on hand to view the carnage. Out of sight, out of mind.

    The fact is, much as Israel wants to present itself as a Western power, rather than it having the ability to break down international standards it is increasingly viewed in the West inside the corridors of power as pushing itself towards pariah status. Condemnations by world leaders may remain infrequent and somewhat muted, but they have been relentlessly increasing in recent years. Israel’s relations with Europe have never been worse and its relations with the current administration are frayed.

    The bottom line: Israel is not as all-powerful as you seem to imagine.

Comments are closed.