Israelis invaded Gaza today, ostensibly seeking to "rescue" Corporal Gilad Shalit but in reality seeking to unleash their blood lust for vengeance against the Palestinian people. The Israeli fuhrers are outraged at the way a hapless band of Islamic extremists have demonstrated Israel’s impotence to the world.
Nothing is more central to Israelis than their constant preening about their self-proclaimed "superpower" status, their "secret" nuclear arsenal, and the idea that President Bush has promised to shed American blood to protect Israel’s conquests in the Middle East. So when a small band of Palestinians exposes Israeli impotence, punishment must be imposed on the entire Palestinian People.
Unfortunately for peace-loving Israelis, their leaders’ wrath is self-destructive and self-destroying. The Israeli government manufactures anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activism at a breakneck pace. Today’s events crystallize the counterintuitive nature of Israel’s slow death and suicidal impulses.
We begin with the basic, the obvious, the unavoidable: being a soldier puts you at risk. By the very act of putting on a uniform and being stationed in a military encampment a solider is at risk and in harm’s way. When Palestinians set up rockets, they get attacked. The Israelis bomb them. Palestinians likewise attack Israelis for occupying to their nation. There is tragic but ineluctable symmetry in all of this killing.
Americans in Iraq are attacked and killed, merely because of their uniformed status. Every general knew invading Iraq would cost lives. Only Vice president Dick Cheney thought otherwise. But, no one forces anyone anywhere to wear a uniform, not here, not there, not anywhere. Indeed, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s own son is a refusenik, someone who refuses to perform military service in the Israeli wehrmacht (he’s no fool).
Another obvious truth is that captured soldiers must be rescued. There is nothing wrong with that. It is part of the ethos of military loyalty and unit solidarity. But Israelis and their fellow travelers in the Bush Administration have been watching old tapes of the rescue at Entebbe (Uganda), long past the sell-by date of that ancient mission.
Entebbe involved the rescue of helpless civilians hijacked and held in Uganda. Israelis launched a dangerous mission and succeeded. The result was heroic status for the rescuers, and the enduring myth that rescuing people is Hollywood-style easy.
Rescues are not. Just ask former president Jimmy Carter about his rescue mission in Iran. Or the Americans who led the unsuccessful rescue at the Hanoi Hilton.
On the other hand, when North Koreans took an entire ship hostage, the U. S. S. Pueblo, the United States did not invade North Korea and launch a war, and the men were eventually released. The U. S. Military leadership realized that even in the face of an obvious act of war, the nation’s greater interests must prevail. And so the Pueblo’s crew waited.
President Bush faced the same choice when the Chinese recently took an American surveillance plane captive. He waited; and the crew came home.
Gaza and Corporal Shalit should have been no different. In Gaza and occupied Palestine there are no TV dramas or Hollywood potential to fuel the rescue of captured personnel. Fighting in Gaza is deadly, and ultimately self-defeating. Shalit knew that. He was a solider.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice properly counseled patience in the wake of Corporal Shalit’s capture. Israel rejected her wise advice. Arrogance and emotion triumphed over reason and the Israeli national interest.
Here we should consider the lessons of history. When the Turks slaughtered Armenians in World War I, there was no "genocide" because the word genocide had yet to be invented. When Nazis began slaughtering Europe’s Jews, it was not genocide. The term still had not been invented.
The term "genocide" was created by Raphael Lemkin in 1943. Genocide became an international term of law with the United Nations’ adoption of the Convention on Genocide in 1948. Retrospectively, we now realize that the concept of genocide could be applied to the Armenian slaughter or the massacre of European Jews by the Nazis.
Today the civilized world’s only practitioners of genocide are the Israelis. Golda Meir was known for her comment that Palestine was seized "by a People without a land," because it was "a land without a people." Actually, "people" had inhabited the land mass of Palestine since the dawn of civilization. The concept of a "land without a people" was a racist and genocidal concoction that Meir used to justify Israeli expansionism.
The insanity continues. Instead of using its overwhelming military and economic strength to make peace with its neighbors, Israel continues to make war, hoping against hope that evil methods and evil minds can triumph over the logic of history and the solidarity of the world community. It can’t happen.
In his typically understated style Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today accused Israel of "crimes against humanity" for invading Gaza. While today’s invasion is undoubtedly a crime against humanity, the attack on Gaza is more; it is part of an orchestrated Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.
And, unlike people in the time of the Armenian slaughter and Nazi massacres we cannot pretend that genocide has not yet been invented. We are all witnesses to the Palestinian Genocide.
In today’s attacks, hundreds of thousands have lost electricity; public health is endangered. Food was already perilously low. Infrastructure has been damaged beyond repair. All this for Corporal Shalit?
What did the Palestinian people do to deserve these attacks? Why aren’t they justified in retaliating against Israel and Israelis, and engaging in mutual rounds of destruction until there is truly no people and no land in the territory of these two warring groups? Hollywood has a precedent for this: War of the Roses, a divorce drama of two people intent on self-hate and self-destruction. Who destroy each other.
Whenever I write a column that compares Israelis to Nazis I get a spate of pro-Israel hate mail, castigating me for comparing the two. But I state unhesitatingly that making war against an innocent civilian population caught in the midst of a war is a Nazi-style atrocity and a crime against humanity. Genocide.
Civilians did not take Corporal Shalit prisoner, and they can’t release him. What does blowing up a Gazan bridge or power plant do to advance the corporal’s freedom? Nothing.
So there must be another explanation for the fury of the Israeli junta in Tel Aviv. There is: genocide.
When Italy attacked Ethiopia, the League of Nations stood silent. The word remained mute at the growing evidence of the Nazi holocaust. Today we watch Israeli storm troopers savage a helpless civilian population under the pretence and pretext that they are conducting a "rescue" mission. Once again the world is shamed. And once again, Israelis continue along the path to their own inevitable demise.
In war, there are prisoners, attacks, and death. Soldiers know that. They accept those risks. If Israel claims it is at war, it must act as though it is a nation at war, both respecting limits on civilian casualties and the endangerment of its troops. The fact that Israelis cannot be trusted to conduct war ultimately means that this "nation" cannot be trusted to be a nation. Israelis are in the process of conducting the eventual and inevitable genocide of their own people and their own nation.
And as the United States sits silently by and aids and abets in this suicidal calumny against a civilian population, we are as guilty as the Israelis whose blood-soaked fingers are carrying out the rape of Gaza. And we wonder why they hate us. And we wonder why we will be targeted again. And we wonder why the world looks with scorn on our own Israeli-style campaign in Iraq. Yes, we really do wonder.
In closing, I affirm that the life of every soldier is precious. A uniform should be worn with great pride. But the life of a nation is even more precious. Generals must sometimes send their troops into danger and death. But in elevating Corporal Shalit’s life to extreme proportions Israel has debased and endangered the Israeli state and taken another steps towards its demise. Unfortunately, as Israeli Abba Eban once said, "The Israelis have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Oh, Eban said that about the Palestinians. War of the Roses.