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Gaza explodes, Israel helps blow things up


TRIBE Member
Ya, I've wondered what the world reaction would be if Hamas started using chemical weapons (like Israel's use of white phosphorous) or radiological weapons (like Israel's use of depleted uranium).

We'd never hear the end of it.
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room

skin deep

TRIBE Member
Well, the 'world' probably wouldn't even let that happen in the first place. Which also makes my hypothetical question irrelevant.

In all honesty though, I wonder if Hamas had access to the same weapons as Israel, if they would even attempt to hold back whatsoever.


TRIBE Member
Hypothetical questions are just that man, hypothetical..:)

More news:

UN halts Gaza aid shipments, cites Israeli attacks


JERUSALEM – The United Nations halted aid deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday, citing Israeli attacks on its staff and installations hours after it said tank fire killed one of its drivers as he went to pick up a shipment.

The United Nations has already demanded an investigation into Israel's shelling of a U.N. school in Gaza that killed nearly 40 people earlier this week. Israel and residents said militants were operating in the area at the time.

For a second straight day, Israel suspended its Gaza military operation for three hours to allow in humanitarian supplies. Shortly before the pause took effect, however, the U.N. said one of its aid trucks came under Israeli fire, killing the driver.

U.N. spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the U.N. coordinated the delivery with Israel, and the vehicle was marked with a U.N. flag and insignia when it was shot in northern Gaza. The Israeli army said it was investigating.

"The U.N. is suspending its aid operations in Gaza until we can get safety and security guarantees for our staff," spokesman Chris Gunness said. "We've been coordinating with them (Israeli forces) and yet our staff continue to be hit and killed."

The U.N. provides food aid to around 750,000 Gaza residents, and runs dozens of schools and clinics throughout the territory. They have some 9,000 locally-employed staffers inside Gaza, and a small team of international staffers who work there.

As Israel pushed forward with the bloody offensive in the Gaza Strip, militants in Lebanon fired at least three rockets into Israel early Thursday, threatening to open a new front for the Jewish state. Israel responded with mortar shells.

The rockets from Lebanon raised the specter of renewed hostilities on Israel's northern frontier, just 2 1/2 years after Israel battled the Hezbollah guerrilla group to a 34-day stalemate. War broke out between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006 as Israel battled Palestinian militants in Gaza, on Israel's southern borders.

No group claimed responsibility. Lebanon's government condemned the attack, and Hezbollah — which now plays an integral role in Lebanon's government — denied any responsibility for the rocket fire, which lightly injured two Israelis.

In other Gaza violence, Israel killed at least 11 people, including three who were fleeing their homes, raising the death toll from its 13-day offensive to 699 Palestinians, according to Palestinian medical officials. Eleven Israelis have died since the offensive began Dec. 27.

The offensive is meant to halt years of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel, but with roughly half the dead believed to be civilians, international efforts to broker a cease-fire have been gaining steam.

Despite the heavy fighting, strides appeared to be made on the diplomatic front with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying the U.S. supported a deal being brokered by France and Egypt.

While the U.N. Security Council failed to reach agreement on a cease-fire resolution, Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said representatives of Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority agreed to meet separately with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

Israeli envoys traveled to Egypt on Thursday to discuss the proposal.

For Israel to accept a proposed cease-fire deal, "there has to be a total and complete cessation of all hostile fire from Gaza into Israel, and ... we have to see an arms embargo on Hamas that will receive international support," said government spokesman Mark Regev.

For its part, Hamas said it would not accept a truce deal unless it includes an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza — something Israel says it is not willing to do. Israel and Egypt have maintained a stiff economic embargo on Gaza since the Hamas takeover.

The Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank while Hamas rules Gaza — two territories on opposite sides of Israel that are supposed to make up a future Palestinian state. Hamas took control of Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007.


Weizman reported from Jerusalem and Barzak from Gaza City. Associated Press writer Sam F. Ghattas contributed to this report from Beirut, Lebanon.


TRIBE Member
with the traditional hesitation Israel has had with respect to international peacekeepers, I wonder why they're willing to entertain the idea now?


Well-Known TRIBEr
I think that there should be peace talks, but there needs to be peace first. How to get peace first? Have peace talks. How to have peace talks? Well, first you need to have peace. How to get peace? Have peace talks. But first: peace, then peace talks. But first: peace talks, then peace.

Alternately, a ceasefire, which is different from peace in that, oh wait, there is no difference. But first, before a ceasefire, ceasefire talks. But we can't have ceasefire talks before a ceasefire. Oh, maybe peace first, then a ceasefire, then peace talks, then talk about ceasefires, then a ceasefire then peace and that's not a ceasefire which takes peace or peace talks first, and then a ceasefire talk for peace about the ceasefire peace talks along with peace and a ceasefire.
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TRIBE Promoter
PosTMOd said:
I think that there should be peace talks, but there needs to be peace first. How to get peace first? Have peace talks. How to have peace talks? Well, first you need to have peace. How to get peace? Have peace talks. But first: peace, then peace talks. But first: peace talks, then peace.

Alternately, a ceasefire, which is different from peace in that, oh wait, there is no difference. But first, before a ceasefire, ceasefire talks. But we can't have ceasefire talks before a ceasefire. Oh, maybe peace first, then a ceasefire, then peace talks, then talk about ceasefires, then a ceasefire then peace and that's not a ceasefire which takes peace or peace talks first, and then a ceasefire talk for peace about the ceasefire peace talks along with peace and a ceasefire.

I guess you side with war since you like describing exercises in futility.


Staff member
Naomi Klein gets in the picture:

Enough. It's time for a boycott
The best way to end the bloody occupation is to target Israel with the kind of movement that ended apartheid in South Africa

It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era". The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause - even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves ... This international backing must stop."

Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can't go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. But they simply aren't good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tool in the non-violent arsenal: surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counter-arguments.

Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.

The world has tried what used to be called "constructive engagement". It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures - quite the opposite. The weapons and $3bn in annual aid the US sends Israel are only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first country outside Latin America to sign a free-trade deal with the Mercosur bloc. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45%. A new deal with the EU is set to double Israel's exports of processed food. And in December European ministers "upgraded" the EU-Israel association agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's flagship index actually went up 10.7%. When carrots don't work, sticks are needed.

Israel is not South Africa.

Of course it isn't. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, backroom lobbying) fail. And there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was "infinitely worse than apartheid". That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.

Why single out Israel when the US, Britain and other western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the strategy should be tried is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.

This one I'll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus's work, and none to me. I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, emails and instant messages, stretching between Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Paris, Toronto and Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start a boycott strategy, dialogue grows dramatically. The argument that boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at each other across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don't I know that many of these very hi-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel's Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, managing director of a British telecom specialising in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax: "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company."

Ramsey says his decision wasn't political; he just didn't want to lose customers. "We can't afford to lose any of our clients," he explains, "so it was purely commercially defensive."

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it's precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

A version of this column was published in the Nation (thenation.com)


* guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009


TRIBE Promoter

There is a HUGE difference between South Africa and Israel.

There is a HUGE difference between Afrikkkaners and Zionists.

Naomi= Naive

Big Cheese

TRIBE Member
fucking hell, now their artillery are low dropping WP out on the suburbs of gaza?!?! what balls do you really need to have to do that when they've already got such a chokehold on the city!!! :mad:

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Well-Known TRIBEr
Funniest thing in the news today:

"The United Nations Human Rights Council, dominated by Muslim states..."

Human rights? Muslim? Ridiculous... the slavery that is embedded in that religion is not compatible with the idea of human rights. The religion has no freedom, and freedom is THE human right.

why not

TRIBE Member
praktik said:
Ya, I've wondered what the world reaction would be if Hamas started using chemical weapons (like Israel's use of white phosphorous) or radiological weapons (like Israel's use of depleted uranium).

We'd never hear the end of it.


apparently Israel is only using them for "illumination purposes".

any civilians living below are purely accidental victims, so that's allowed.

hamas should just claim that they're aiming their rockets at military targets and only accidentally hit towns. not that much less plausible really.


TRIBE Promoter
PosTMOd said:
Funniest thing in the news today:

"The United Nations Human Rights Council, dominated by Muslim states..."

Human rights? Muslim? Ridiculous... the slavery that is embedded in that religion is not compatible with the idea of human rights. The religion has no freedom, and freedom is THE human right.

Thank you for stating your position.


TRIBE Promoter
Canada stands alone on UN vote.

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim says:

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF(Israeli Defense Forces) that broke the ceasefire. It did so by a raid into Gaza on November 4th, that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defense of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
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TRIBE Member
hehe I think we voted for Israel so it wouldn't be unanimous. They prolly drew straws in a back room somewhere.


TRIBE Member
I've been quiet on this issue for a bit because of the complexity but now I've heard reports that Israel has been using white phosphorous munitions. These are outlawed by the Geneva convention. Israel claims they are 'Using them legally' but I'm not certain about more than that.

Does anyone have other sources on this? The closer to an official Israeli report the better.

Big Cheese

TRIBE Member
why not said:
apparently Israel is only using them for "illumination purposes".

this is just a silly answer to a stupid question by the IDF.

anyone who has somewhat of an understanding of munitions would know that it makes no sense to fire a lum round using WP 100 feet off the goddamn ground...

they're shake and bake fire support missions. clear cut. i mean check the video i posted. so beyond fucked its unbelievable.

why not

TRIBE Member
atbell said:
I've been quiet on this issue for a bit because of the complexity but now I've heard reports that Israel has been using white phosphorous munitions. These are outlawed by the Geneva convention. Israel claims they are 'Using them legally' but I'm not certain about more than that.

Does anyone have other sources on this? The closer to an official Israeli report the better.


UN accuses Israel over phosphorus

The head of the UN aid agency in Gaza has accused the Israeli military of firing what was believed to be white phosphorus shells at its compound.

John Ging told the BBC that in spite of discussions with the Israeli liaison, "three rounds that emitted phosphorus" hit a corner of the Gaza City facility.

Israel's military said all weapons it used complied with international law.

Phosphorus shells are legal to use as a battlefield obscurant, but are banned from use where civilians may be harmed.

Human Rights Watch says it has observed "dozens and dozens" of white phosphorus shells being fired by Israel at the Gaza Strip - a heavily populated civilian area where its use is prohibited.

Palestinian medical officials said they had treated large numbers of casualties with unusual burns that were extremely painful to treat and could be consistent with exposure to white phosphorus (WP).

The Israeli military has declined to comment on specific munitions used during the 20-day offensive, but said any its weapons were used in compliance with international law.

There is no way independently to explain the contradiction between both sides' reports, as Israel has prevented international journalists from entering Gaza since its offensive began on 27 December.

'Relentless bombardment'

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Ging, director of operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), said the area surrounding its compound had been under "relentless artillery and tank bombardment all night and all day".

Some rounds, Mr Ging said, had struck a part of the compound where about 700 residents of nearby blocks of flats were taking shelter. Three people were injured in the bombardment.

"Then an hour later, in spite of our protests and real-time discussions with the Israeli liaison, three rounds that emitted phosphorous struck the other corner of the compound," he added.

The compound is Unrwa's main distribution hub in Gaza and Mr Ging said the shells set alight part of a warehouse in which there were stored thousands of tonnes of food and medicine, and the workshop area.

The fires then threatened to engulf five fuel tankers, which had been due to be sent out that morning, but could not leave because it was too dangerous outside.

"When the fires broke out, five of our brave staff dashed down there and moved the trucks out of the area, so we avoided a massive explosion," he said.

Mr Ging told CNN the fire was very difficult to extinguish because the smoke from WP becomes toxic if water is used.

Following the incident, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - in Israel to push for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip - expressed his "outrage" and demanded a full explanation from the Israeli government.

"The defence minister said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously. He assured me that extra attention will be paid to UN facilities and staff and this will not be repeated," Mr Ban said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the compound had been targeted after militants had opened fire from there.

"It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologise for it," he said. "I don't think it should have happened and I'm very sorry."


White phosphorus sticks to human skin and will burn right through to the bone, causing death or leaving survivors with painful wounds which are slow to heal.

The international convention on the use of incendiary weapons says it should not be used where there is a possibility of hitting civilians. An Israeli military spokesman said it was investigating the reports, but reiterated earlier assurances about the legality of its weaponry.

White phosphorus is permitted on the battlefield to make smoke screens to allow troops to move undetected, and also to impede infrared anti-tank weapons.

But its use in the densely populated areas of central Gaza City would be "unlawful", as it dispersal would be indiscriminate and could put civilians at risk, says Human Rights Watch military analyst Marc Garlasco.

"The Israeli military may be using legal weapons, but it is using the weapons in an illegal manner," Mr Garlasco told the BBC News website.

He said he had observed dozens and dozens WP shells used by the Israeli army over Gaza since 27 December, both ground-burst shells and air-burst, scattering distinctive burning lumps of phosphorus which left white smoke trails.

"We are absolutely certain this is white phosphorus, this is the singular, unique visual signature of white phosphorus on the battlefield. Not only have I seen it for myself but I have checked with US artillery," Mr Garlasco added.

Mr Garlasco also examined a press photograph which showed a burning lump of matter in the UN compound. He said it "definitely appeared" to be WP, but that the photo was not detailed enough to say with complete certainty.

why not

TRIBE Member

Two medics working for programmes supported by a UK-based charity give accounts of the difficulties they face because of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Dr Abu Shaaban is director of the Burns Unit at Gaza's Shifa hospital and Dr Miri Weingarten is director of the Israeli charity Physicians for Human Rights.

The testimonies were obtained by the charity, Christian Aid.


I have been working here for 25 years and I have never seen anything like this before. I have never seen this number of injuries or such severe injuries among civilians, children two and three years old.

We absolutely do not have the capacity to treat the numbers of patients we are receiving. That is why the minute the border opens with Egypt, we try to send the most difficult cases through for treatment and keep the less difficult cases here.

It is a disaster here. Entire families are suffering having had their houses collapse on top of them, some of them have been shelled, others are burned, it really is a disaster.

We have been receiving a very high number of patients with a strange burn, completely different to the burns we are used to managing, very deep burns with a very offensive, chemical odour coming from the wound site.

The wound keeps smoking for a long time. When we try to wash it with saline and water, some reaction happens, the skin bubbles and the patient complains of extreme pain.

In some cases there is then severe destruction of the tissue and we have had to amputate whole limbs.

We don't know what type of treatment should be used. The major problem is we don't know the kind of weapon that has been used.

We have a visiting doctor from Norway who thinks it might be white phosphorus but we are not sure. Even if it is, we have no experience of it and do not know how to deal with wounds it has caused.

We are asking for the help of all physicians across the world - what type of weapons cause these injuries and how do you deal with them? Is the chemical odour coming from the wound harmful to the medics?

What are the long term repercussions? We have no idea. What can we say? We try to reassure patients but we do not know.

I haven't slept a minute for the past 36 hours. I am not an administrator, I do not know how long we can continue to treat people in these conditions.

I would work forever with even the bare minimum of supplies. I will work as long as the shelling continues because I have to.
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TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
interesting posts all around.

Original Vibe:

i think the emotive arguments will never sway more astute thinkers on this topic, only the general masses who's understanding of the isreali/palestine situation is limited to mainstream media reports.


i usually find your posts engaging and bitting but your response to OV was ironically lacking the same depth of analysis that you were accusing him of.

the idea of "overwhelming force" as a knock against isreal incursions into arab territories makes no sense and is a tired and intellectually dated concept. what does isreal's towering military strength have anything to do w/ the issue of whether or not they should attempt to stop missle attacks?

if you are suggesting they use diplomacy and other means the i would agree, military force should always be your last option. while i dont know enough about the issue itself to say with conviction that isreal has or does not have a right to make military inroads into the occupied territories i try to consider it from a military perspective in terms of results and expenditures:

why else would hamas fire rockets and embed the launch sites in residential areas? its supposed to act as a natural deterrent, done w/ the hope that isreal will be less willing to go all in and dismantle them, or make it a media nightmare when they try.

Hamas is placing the citizens who voted them in office in harms way. i dont believe they wanted this in the first place, they are stuck in between.

this idea that hamas is just representing the people or that the IDF are causing disproportionate destruction is untenable: some rocket sites were purposefully set up in dense residental areas. are we really that naive to believe gazans are perfectly fine with this arrangement? to believe so is to presume that most gazans are prepared to be martyrs which has never been proven.

conversely: is the IDF soley to blame for causing destruction and civilian casualties? why are people so quick to call for IDF war crimes and use of "disproportionate force" less vocal in their demands that Hamas carry out military operations outside of dense residential areas?

the issue of the rockets being fired seems to be a fairly poor decision militarily as it achieves no constructive objective other than death and destruction of their own region and limited destruction of isreali targets taht have no military value. regardless of how one feels about the isreali/palastinian situation the use of rockets only seems to invite the IDF to cause widespread destruction. this is not to suggest the IDF or isreal is free of any blame at all. im unclear what hamas thinks it will loose if it ceases firing rockets into isreal? i could understand if they felt it gave them a strategic advantage or a leg-up in negotiations for prisoner exchange or something, but all it seems to do is draw in some press and wide-scale descrution.

would gazan's as a whole loose something if they stopped firing rockets? this seems to be absent from the debate. what could they be doing with those same resources from a military standpoint to aid in their struggle?

: is used when you are about to list off a series of items in your sentence.

How I remember it, is the gong gong rule. Imagine that you are a King and someone is about to tell you some important things and then they hit the gong.

For example " In the previous year I have worked at( gong gong): IMB,DELL,GOOGLE,CIDA and Playboy. "

As well its equals possessive and it's = it is.

You are a good writer but sometimes it's annoying.


TRIBE Member
As a contrast to a strategic/geopolitical take on the whole thing, I would like to offer that it is just appalling that humans will do that to other humans for stuff that is, in the grand scheme of things, utter bullshit...


TRIBE Member
As a contrast to a strategic/geopolitical take on the whole thing, I would like to offer that it is just appalling that humans will do that to other humans for stuff that is, in the grand scheme of things, utter bullshit...

Wars/conflicts have been continuously fought over the control of resources since the beginning of humanity and will be fought till the end.

Its ironic that people here in the west disproportionately use up and so freely waste most of the worlds resources and so easily take it for granted and dismiss the whole notion that there is an ongoing conflict over resources at all.


TRIBE Member
Chomsky: Undermining Gaza

Sameer Dossani | January 16, 2009

Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Noam Chomsky is a noted linguist, author, and foreign policy expert. Sameer Dossani interviewed him about the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

DOSSANI: The Israeli government and many Israeli and U.S. officials claim that the current assault on Gaza is to put an end to the flow of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel. But many observers claim that if that were really the case, Israel would have made much more of an effort to renew the ceasefire agreement that expired in December, which had all but stopped the rocket fire. In your opinion, what are the real motivations behind the current Israeli action?

CHOMSKY: There's a theme that goes way back to the origins of Zionism. And it's a very rational theme: "Let's delay negotiations and diplomacy as long as possible, and meanwhile we'll 'build facts on the ground.'" So Israel will create the basis for what some eventual agreement will ratify, but the more they create, the more they construct, the better the agreement will be for their purposes. Those purposes are essentially to take over everything of value in the former Palestine and to undermine what's left of the indigenous population.

I think one of the reasons for popular support for this in the United States is that it resonates very well with American history. How did the United States get established? The themes are similar.

There are many examples of this theme being played out throughout Israel's history, and the current situation is another case. They have a very clear program. Rational hawks like Ariel Sharon realized that it's crazy to keep 8,000 settlers using one-third of the land and much of the scarce supplies in Gaza, protected by a large part of the Israeli army while the rest of the society around them is just rotting. So it's best to take them out and send them to the West Bank. That's the place that they really care about and want.

What was called a "disengagement" in September 2005 was actually a transfer. They were perfectly frank and open about it. In fact, they extended settlement building programs in the West Bank at the very same time that they were withdrawing a few thousand people from Gaza. So Gaza should be turned into a cage, a prison basically, with Israel attacking it at will, and meanwhile in the West Bank we'll take what we want. There was nothing secret about it.

Ehud Olmert was in the United States in May 2006 a couple of months after the withdrawal. He simply announced to a joint session of Congress and to rousing applause, that the historic right of Jews to the entire land of Israel is beyond question. He announced what he called his convergence program, which is just a version of the traditional program; it goes back to the Allon plan of 1967. Israel would essentially annex valuable land and resources near the green line (the 1967 border). That land is now behind the wall that Israel built in the West Bank, which is an annexation wall. That means the arable land, the main water resources, the pleasant suburbs around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the hills and so on. They'll take over the Jordan valley, which is about a third of the West Bank, where they've been settling since the late 60s. Then they'll drive a couple of super highways through the whole territory — there's one to the east of Jerusalem to the town of Ma'aleh Adumim which was built mostly in the 1990s, during the Oslo years. It was built essentially to bisect the West Bank and are two others up north that includes Ariel and Kedumim and other towns which pretty much bisect what's left. They'll set up check points and all sorts of means of harassment in the other areas and the population that's left will be essentially cantonized and unable to live a decent life and if they want to leave, great. Or else they will be picturesque figures for tourists — you know somebody leading a goat up a hill in the distance — and meanwhile Israelis, including settlers, will drive around on "Israeli only" super highways. Palestinians can make do with some little road somewhere where you're falling into a ditch if it's raining. That's the goal. And it's explicit. You can't accuse them of deception because it's explicit. And it's cheered here.

DOSSANI: In terms of U.S. support, last week the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a cease fire. Is this a change, particularly in light of the fact that the U.S. did not veto the resolution, but rather abstained, allowing it to be passed?

CHOMSKY: Right after the 1967 war, the Security Council had strong resolutions condemning Israel's move to expand and take over Jerusalem. Israel just ignored them. Because the U.S. pats them on the head and says "go ahead and violate them." There's a whole series of resolutions from then up until today, condemning the settlements, which as Israel knew and as everyone agreed were in violation of the Geneva conventions. The United States either vetoes the resolutions or sometimes votes for them, but with a wink saying, "go ahead anyway, and we'll pay for it and give you the military support for it." It's a consistent pattern. During the Oslo years, for example, settlement construction increased steadily, in violation of what the Oslo agreement was theoretically supposed to lead to. In fact the peak year of settlement was Clinton's last year, 2000. And it continued again afterward. It's open and explicit.

To get back to the question of motivation, they have sufficient military control over the West Bank to terrorize the population into passivity. Now that control is enhanced by the collaborationist forces that the U.S., Jordan, and Egypt have trained in order to subdue the population. In fact if you take a look at the press the last couple of weeks, if there's a demonstration in the West Bank in support of Gaza, the Fatah security forces crush it. That's what they're there for. Fatah by now is more or less functioning as Israel's police force in the West Bank. But the West Bank is only part of the occupied Palestinian territories. The other part is Gaza, and no one doubts that they form a unit. And there still is resistance in Gaza, those rockets. So yes, they want to stamp that out too, then there will be no resistance at all and they can continue to do what they want to do without interference, meanwhile delaying diplomacy as much as possible and "building the facts" the way they want to. Again this goes back to the origins of Zionism. It varies of course depending on circumstances, but the fundamental policy is the same and perfectly understandable. If you want to take over a country where the population doesn't want you, I mean, how else can you do it? How was this country conquered?

DOSSANI: What you describe is a tragedy.

CHOMSKY: It's a tragedy which is made right here. The press won't talk about it and even scholarship, for the most part, won't talk about it but the fact of the matter is that there has been a political settlement on the table, on the agenda for 30 years. Namely a two-state settlement on the international borders with maybe some mutual modification of the border. That's been there officially since 1976 when there was a Security Council resolution proposed by the major Arab states and supported by the (Palestinan Liberation Organization) PLO, pretty much in those terms. The United States vetoed it so it's therefore out of history and it's continued almost without change since then.

There was in fact one significant modification. In the last month of Clinton's term, January 2001 there were negotiations, which the U.S. authorized, but didn't participate in, between Israel and the Palestinians and they came very close to agreement.

DOSSANI: The Taba negotiations?

CHOMSKY: Yes, the Taba negotiations. The two sides came very close to agreement. They were called off by Israel. But that was the one week in over 30 years when the United States and Israel abandoned their rejectionist position. It's a real tribute to the media and other commentators that they can keep this quiet. The U.S. and Israel are alone in this. The international consensus includes virtually everyone. It includes the Arab League which has gone beyond that position and called for the normalization of relations, it includes Hamas. Every time you see Hamas in the newspapers, it says "Iranian-backed Hamas which wants to destroy Israel." Try to find a phrase that says "democratically elected Hamas which is calling for a two-state settlement" and has been for years. Well, yeah, that's a good propaganda system. Even in the U.S. press they've occasionally allowed op-eds by Hamas leaders, Ismail Haniya and others saying, yes we want a two-state settlement on the international border like everyone else.

DOSSANI: When did Hamas adopt that position?

CHOMSKY: That's their official position taken by Haniya, the elected leader, and Khalid Mesh'al, their political leader who's in exile in Syria, he's written the same thing. And it's over and over again. There's no question about it but the West doesn't want to hear it. So therefore it's Hamas which is committed to the destruction of Israel.

In a sense they are, but if you went to a Native American reservation in the United States, I'm sure many would like to see the destruction of the United States. If you went to Mexico and took a poll, I'm sure they don't recognize the right of the United States to exist sitting on half of Mexico, land conquered in war. And that's true all over the world. But they're willing to accept a political settlement. Israel isn't willing to accept it and the United States isn't willing to accept it. And they're the lone hold-outs. Since it's the United States that pretty much runs the world, it's blocked.

Here it's always presented as though the United States must become more engaged; it's an honest broker; Bush's problem was that he neglected the issue. That's not the problem. The problem is that the United States has been very much engaged, and engaged in blocking a political settlement and giving the material and ideological and diplomatic support for the expansion programs, which are just criminal programs. The world court unanimously, including the American justice, agreed that any transfer of population into the Occupied Territories is a violation of a fundamental international law, the Geneva Conventions. And Israel agrees. In fact even their courts agree, they just sort of sneak around it in various devious ways. So there's no question about this. It's just sort of accepted in the United States that we're an outlaw state. Law doesn't apply to us. That's why it's never discussed.

Sameer Dossani, a Foreign Policy In Focus contributor, is the director of 50 Years is Enough and blogs at shirinandsameer.blogspot.com.


why not

TRIBE Member
as much as the two state solution is usually cited as the best outcome we could hope for, i often wonder if having two states next to each other founded on religious and ethnic divisions isn't just asking for more trouble.

a secular single state might be a more ideal solution, as long as it wasn't something imposed on either Palestine or Israel.
don't like the idea of a country created for a specific religion or ethnic group at all when i think of it.
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