Thursday, January 01, 2009


1) Both Hamas and the ruling government in Israel are right wing religious jerks, and like all right wingers they have no interest in ending hostilities, but only in creating new ones, sustaining old ones, and in building mythologies that dehistoricize recent political conflicts and portray them as eternal, metaphysical conflicts between two opposing faiths/races.

a) Israeli right wingers do not want peace, they want permanent occupation within acceptable margins of civilian loss. "Acceptable" civilian losses are a necessary evil because the right wing depends on terrorism to stay in power. The right wingers would be nothing without their image as the protectors of not just Israeli citizens, but the Jewish people and religion worldwide. As long as there are still civilian deaths, people have something to fear and look to the right for protection.

b) Precisely because the Israeli right wing WANTS permanent conflict and civilian losses, Hamas' strategy of violent resistance plays directly into Israel's hands. Hamas wages uban guerilla war, suicide bombings, and rocket strikes to creat a spectacle of resistance that will inspire Palestinians to support them, but that's all it is: spectacle. Hamas KNOWS that Israel will overrreact to violence, but it persists in its utterly futile violent resistance because it will profit when Israel's bloody overreaction stirs up more hate and desire to support Hamas. Hamas wants to be the kings of shit town, and their strategy of violence has nothing to do with actually getting the Palestinian people autonomy and peace, but everything to do with maintaining their shitty thrown. If Hamas was authentically committed to freeing Palestinian people, they would follow a strategy of non-violence.

2) The American media are a bunch of cads for portraying this conflict as a matter of Hamas "breaking" the ceasefire and ignoring the fact that rocket attacks resumed because the ceasefire expired. The American media has underreportec civilian deaths, and blithely reproduces the Israel Defense Force's propaganda-rhetoric of "surgical strikes". There is nothing "surgical" or "precise" about raining tons of fire from the sky into a city slum.

3) Before Israel's airstrikes, Hamas' rocket attacks since the end of the ceasefire had only killed 1 Israeli citizen. As of today over 400 Palestinians and a dozen or less Israelis are dead. If both Hamas and the Israeli right are assholes in principle, it's quite clear that Israel's actions here are monstrous and Israel must immediately quit this horrific violence.

4) It is popular to compare the occupation of Palestine to South African apartheid, and the failure of this analogy is very instructive in the present moment. Hamas' self-serving committment to violence could not stand in more contrast to the ANC, which made a point of bombing infrastructure and avoiding human casualties whenever possible, and in the instances in which their actions WERE aimed to kill, focusing exclusively on South African police. The apartheid regime is famous for the massacres in Sharpeville and Soweto, but never used airstrikes against Bantustans or committed atrocities in which the dead numbered as many as in the current conflict.

5) In a perfect world we would all share material resources equally, all governments would be secular, and racial and religious differences would not be cause for political division. There would be a single, secular, socialist Palestine in which all people were full citizens. Short of that, the only solution is this: non-violence on both sides, respect for Palestinian self-rule, and the establishment of genuine two-state solution.

ADDENDUM: Jan 3 2008

6) A friend of mine asked if I thought things were really so simple, that the masses of Israelis and Palestinians were being cruelly reigned over by a powerful elite whose interests were totally different from that of the people they ruled. In essence, I was accused of over simplifying, turning the result of a multiplicity of social forces acting on a variety of scales with the simple conspiracy of an elite. So the proper rejoinder is this: that yes, many "normal", "everyday" Israeli's and Palestinians--those outside the "political elite"--actively support the paths that Hamas and the Israeli right are carving out, whether actively--extremists like the Israeli settlers or rocket-firing Hamas "activists"--or just indirectly by doing what they need to to just get along within existing power structures.

8) That also said, the depiction of Hamas in the Western media as merely a "militant group"--or worse, and even more manipulatively, as a "terrorist group"--is a gross distortion, and Israel's boasting that they have confined casualties to Hamas militants only is bullshit. Hamas is the police force in Gaza, and a major provider of education, medecine, and other social services in Gaza. Not all members of Hamas share its antisemitic tenencies or even its substantive political ideology; a lot of people are just looking for jobs and roles in their communities.

7) Now that Israel has put boots on the ground in Israel, I have to retract my earlier statement about non-violence. The Palestinians have to ditch violence in the long term if they want to accomplish anything, but with Israel now crossing over into Gaza territory itself, the Palestinians have the right to defend their territory from invasion.