By John Grant
It's like entering a minefield to seriously discuss Israel and Palestine, a tale of two peoples who claim the same land.
I've entered this minefield before and have been called an "anti-semite" and an "Israel hater" for saying pretty much what the sentence above suggests, that Palestinians feel a legitimate bond with the land Israel claims and holds with its military prowess. The individual who called me those names is an antiwar liberal on everything but Israel, at which point he becomes a jackboot militarist without a shred of mercy.
I've also been critical of governments like El Salvador's, but I've never been called anti-Hispanic or an El Salvador hater. My concern was for the Salvadoran government and its US patron to stop the repression of the poor. I'm also opposed to the repression of democracy in places like Iran.
Israel trips on its own hard line
The killing by Israeli commandos of nine Turkish passengers or crew members on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara has, on one hand, raised the bar on public discussion of Israel and Palestine, while on the other, it has thrown a monkey wrench into talks among the US, Israel and the Palestinian Authority as it has moved Turkey from a tentative friend of Israel to a bitter enemy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet Tuesday with Barack Obama to patch up the embarrassment over Jerusalem settlements during Vice President Joe Biden's visit. Netanyahu canceled and returned to Israel.
The Hamas government in Gaza is noticeably absent from the shambles known as The Proximity Talks. It has been branded a "terrorist" organization and it has to cope with an Israeli, Egyptian and US supported blockade of supplies into the sliver of land on the Mediterranean. (Following the ship incident, Egypt opened its border with Gaza.)
It all might have been different.
In January 2006, Hamas won a parliamentary election, which included Palestinian voters from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Hamas received 44.5 percent of the vote to Fatah's 41.4 percent, giving Hamas the right to form a government.
The US and Israel then connived with the losing Fatah element in the Palestinian Authority to mount military attacks on Hamas, as they worked to financially starve Hamas so it could not run the government it had been elected to run. When the dust settled, Hamas governed only Gaza. Then, Israel began the blockade and in December 2008 launched a punitive military attack into Gaza to wreck the place.
While Hamas is certainly not without sin, a UN report makes it clear the vast amount of violence and destruction was on the part of Israel.
As a shameful example how Americans are kept ignorant in this journalistic minefield, on Tuesday, in a New York Times story by Isabel Kershner, absolutely no mention of the 2006 election is made and instead she writes Hamas "took over [Gaza] by force in 2007." Considering its famous motto -- "All the news that's fit to print" I guess the full truth just didn't fit...