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The Waste of War

I came across an article recently on BBC, and the bitter irony of it struck me...

Basically, after the recent massacre in Gaza, a UN team and (separately) Hamas operatives went around collecting unexploded ordnance - it was all stored in a
" site in Gaza City where more than 7,000kg of explosives was being housed.

It included three 2,000-pound bombs and eight 500-pound bombs, which had all been dropped from aircraft but failed to explode.

There was also a large number of 155mm shells for delivering the incendiary chemical white phosphorus.(BBC:17/02/09)

The UN was waiting for permission and special tools from the Israelis to be able to dispose of them, but
"On Sunday, when UN officials returned to the warehouse, which was under a Hamas police guard, they say they found most of the explosives had gone missing.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the stockpile had been "commandeered by Hamas"." (ibid.)

Well - it hardly surprises me.

Imagine: there's all this lethal equipment that was meant to kill your people, and only by luck did not go off. Then, after collecting it you're meant to guard it, waiting on the permission from the people who dropped in on you in the first place, so that it can be taken from you and destroyed... It's just grotesque! :-(

On a related matter, there's an interesting letter/article written by King Abdullah of Jordan in 1947 called "As The Arabs See The Jews". It's worth reading for some historical perspective - here are couple of choice quotes:
"I was puzzled for a long time about the odd belief which apparently persists in America that Palestine has somehow "always been a Jewish land." Recently an American I talked to cleared up this mystery. He pointed out that the only things most Americans know about Palestine are what they read in the Bible. It was a Jewish land in those days, they reason, and they assume it has always remained so.
Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did the Jews ever control nearly—but not all—the land which is today Palestine. This empire lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years later the Kingdom of Judah had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem, barely a quarter of modern Palestine.

In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense.

This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so long. England might claim France, "homeland" of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. And incidentally, we Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years."

And another - remember that this was written in 1947, before Israel was founded and not long after the end of the Second World War
"We are told that we are inhumane and heartless because do not accept with open arms the perhaps 200,000 Jews in Europe who suffered so frightfully under Nazi cruelty, and who even now—almost three years after war’s end—still languish in cold, depressing camps.

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable persecution of the Jews was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian nation in the West. The war which ruined Europe and made it almost impossible for these Jews to rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian nations of the West. The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not to the Arabs, but to the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. "We have hurt these people terribly," cries the West to the East. "Won’t you please take care of them for us?"

But we say that Palestine has already sheltered 600,000 refugees. We believe that is enough to expect of us—even too much. We believe it is now the turn of the rest of the world to accept some of them."

Just in case you're wondering - my stance on the Israeli-Palestine conflict is that I think an injustice was done by forcing Israel on the Palestinians, but it cannot be reversed now. They need to live side by side in a two-state solution that rests on the pre-1967 borders, and perhaps some land swaps for the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli soldiers speak out – why not Americans too?

I read a comic recently, called Palestine . Actually, ‘comic’ doesn’t describe it properly; the author Joe Sacco is described as a ‘graphic journalist’, and that’s what ‘Palestine’ is – a graphic documentary on life in Palestine around 1990. He manages to render the atmosphere of resentment, resignation and simmering hatred very well.

One story that stuck in my mind is that of a lady whose son was shot in the head after Israelis raided the area in Rafah where she lived;

after seven hours, and being sent from one place to the next, they got to an Israeli hospital. He died about a day later, having had no treatment. Later, another teenage son was shot five times – perhaps after throwing stones, perhaps not.

He had been taken to a military hospital in Israel; after delays it was too late to take him to a better hospital in Jerusalem. He died too.

Each time, they were only allowed to bury the bodies in the middle of the night, guarded by soldiers.

Continue reading "Israeli soldiers speak out – why not Americans too?"

Double think

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully-constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them; to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy; to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved using doublethink. (Orwell)

From the novel that summarises most of the 20th century practical political ideology, 1984 (read it online).

Now have a look at this:
Cheney said that progress toward peace and stability in the Middle East would depend on responsible conduct by countries in the region, including respect for neighbors' sovereignty and compliance with international agreements.

"If you apply all these measures it becomes immediately clear that the government Iran falls far short and is a growing obstacle to peace in the Middle East," Cheney told the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Reuters)


Israel recently bombed facilities in Syria, assisted by America (here) - sounds like a certain lack of "respect for neighbors' sovereignty" to me; not to mention the attack on Lebanon last year, and the list off American interferences can go on and on (Chile, Nicaragua, Granada, Afghanistan, ...). America's invasion of Iraq was illegal according to the then Secretary-General of the UN (here); Israel has repeatedly refused to stop illegal settlements and return the occupied territories to the Palestinians (e.g. here) - which "international agreements" does Cheney consider relevant?