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Unseen Gaza

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By now virtually the whole world has an opinion about the Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla of ships and boats headed for Gaza to "provide humanitarian aid" to the 1.5 million Muslims penned-in there by the Israeli government. There is now a second foray toward Gaza, too. This time from Ireland. The world is holding its breath in the hopes that the Netanyahu government of Israel does not over-react again to this effort.

We have learned a lot more about the Turkish attempt to penetrate the Israeli naval blockade. Today's New York Times, for instance, tells the story of planning done on both sides, communications between the parties, and the surprising and deadly encounter as helicopter-born Israeli commandos descended into a very hostile group of "peace activists" aboard the larger of the flotilla's vessels. This rendition of the story does not mention the histrionics in Turkey alleged by an editorial (written apparently by AIPAC) in the Washington Post.

Gaza is not part of Israel (nor of Egypt). It is a democratic territory of predominantly Sunni Muslims under the governance of the Palestine Authority, an "agency" recognized by all the local powers, especially since the 2005 unilateral withdrawal of Israel as the "occupying" power. In every sense of the word, Gaza is sovereign. Israel instituted a naval blockade against Gaza (Palestine) as an act "short of war" and without the formal agreement of the U.S. or any other power. The reason for the blockade and the current deadly engagement is that Israel believes (and has credible evidence) that humanitarian aid to the Gazan population includes persons and materiel designed to continue fomenting discord and (remember) firing of rockets into Israel.

Israel, for its own part, has done very little to sweeten the existence of the Gazans and bears most of the responsibility for the inability of any nation to come to the actual humanitarian aid of the Gazans. The essential statemate is that both sides are correct in their assumptions, but beginning with the Palestinian presumption that Israel does not have a right to exist, the Israelis have to presume that effectively a state of war exists between itself and the radical elements of the Palestinian authority. The U.S. acknowledges this connundrum, but takes the the point of view that the radical elements (despite being duly elected and nevertheless very much in the minority of Gazans and "west bank" (of the Jordan River) "Palestinians" (in Israel proper). Israel is not so sure that the minority is small. Meanwhile there is credible evidence that Syria and through Syria, Iran, is deliberately fanning the embers among the radicals, the near-radicals, the ethnic groups, and co-religionists.

There is no question that Israel acted imprudently and with deadly force too ready to deploy. Personally, I was appalled at the Israeli action, and I believe that they richly deserve all the opprobrium they have gotten. They earned it! Having said that, though, the situation is, as outlined above, much more complicated than the hair-triggered thoughlessness of Netanyahu and his government. The Muslims must come to terms with the fact of Israel and work forward from there. No Israeli is going to lie down and play dead to appeal public opinion. On the other hand, Israelis have to understand that their "superior" civilization in the Levant would be far from superior if they did not get fully 50% of all the foreign aid that the U.S. gives out each year. Israel is an unruly "client state" of the U.S., whether they want to admit that or not. Without the U.S. Israel would not now exist; there just is not enough goodwill in France or the U.K. to sustain it. The world-wide opprobrium earned in this most recent skirmish comes from the U.S. citizenry as well, some of it from Jews who are less knee-jerk partisans than the rest. Israel must understand that at some point opprobrium will translate into anti-Israel convictions here that no amount of anti-Semitism propaganda will block.

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The cure now is for Netanyahu to back down and out of government. He is a criminal in the eyes of most of the world. It is a perception that he is, unfortunately, incapable of changing ... and part of the reason for that is that it is fact based!

JB

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)
 

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