Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Multilateral ceasefire in Gaza is not enough. We need to call for a unilateral cessations of hostilities

I had to spend a long time explaining in a Facebook comment yesterday how I thought a ceasefire between the Israeli government would hold and whether it should be supported by the Israeli and Palestinian socialist and workers movement and beyond them peace movements amongst those peoples.

Tel Aviv anti-war protest 26th July - Photo from Elizabeth Tsurkov Facebook

Tel Aviv anti-war protest 26th July – Photo from Elizaeth Tsurkov Facebook

There are understandable doubts and uncertainties about the trustworthiness of offers for ceasefires emanating from either Hamas or the Israeli government.

Israelis fear that Hamas still wants to eliminate Israel and that they could, at any time, attempt to do that through military action on Israeli civilians. Palestinians have huge doubts that the Israeli government, particularly this one, will call ceasefires for any other reason other than to occasionally and temporarily placate international pressure. Meanwhile they maintain a desire to intimidate Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza territories with the eventual intention of expanding Israel and driving further Palestinians from their homes.

I believe the people on both sides are right to have their suspicions but nevertheless socialists and peace activists should call for a ceasefire on both sides to be made unilaterally and indefinitely. In other words we should campaign for an unconditional unilateral cessation of all military hostilities.

Ban Ki-Moon, Kerry, Ed Miliband have all called for a ceasefire. But is unclear whether that is that a just yet another weak call on both sides to negotiate a ceasefire with the likelihood of a later continuation of military action as mutual accusations fly about who has broken the terms of that ceasefire.

Here is my response, with one or two small amendments and grammatical corrections, to someone arguing that Hamas can’t be trusted and that therefore, in principle, Israel should have the right to attack the rocket sites and tunnel installations from Gaza into Israel.

I would defend my argument as being as equally valid for the Palestinians – although the urgency for action obviously lies within Israel where the bombardment of Gaza in particular is causing such horrendous suffering of several greater orders of magnitude than that suffered by Israelis. Continue reading


Google translation of Ayelet Shaked – did she endorse civilian atrocities on Palestinians?

There is obvious danger in making false allegations in the present situation in Israel/ Palestine and I have no intention to do that. But neither should falsehoods be tolerated.
Ayelet Shaked, member of the Knesset and the ruling Israeli coalition has denied the accusations that had been made against her about wanting the deaths of Palestinian mothers. She challenged those who believed them to read what she had said on Facebook. They are in Hebrew. Many of us concerned about the situation don’t speak Hebrew. We need a better translation and please someone qualified, make such a translation. But here is how Google translates what she has quoted.
Obviously this is very far from perfect and people should recognise that when reading this. I will link to another approved translation as soon as I am notified of its availability
Pete Radcliff

Facebook entry starts:
Article by Uri Elitzur late has been put away, written 12 years ago:
Palestinian people declared war on us, and we need to fight back.
No operation, no roll, and low intensity, and controlled escalation, and destruction of terrorist infrastructure, and targeted prevention. Vague enough to make up nicknames. This is war. Words have meaning. This is war. And the war on terror, not a war against extremists, not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. Both forms of evading reality. This is a war between the two nations. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask him, he began.
I do not know why so difficult for us to define reality in the simplest words the language provided us. Why should invent a new name every two weeks this war, only not call her name. What’s so shocking understanding the entire Palestinian people is the enemy. Every war between the two nations, and in every war, people started the war, as a whole, is the enemy. Declaration of war is not a war crime. Certainly not the Sabbath of war. Rather than using the word “war”, and a clear definition of the enemy. On the contrary. Morality of war (and there is such a thing) is based on the assumption that the world wars, and war is not a normal condition, and wars enemy is usually a whole, the elders and wives, their cities and villages, property and infrastructure.
And the morality of war know you can not harm the citizens of the enemy. He did not condemn the RAF bombed and completely destroyed the Dresden German and U.S. jets destroyed the cities of Poland and destroyed half of Budapest, places where residents miserable never done bad for America, but had to destroy them to win the war against evil. Morality of war No calls to prosecute the Russian blasting and destroying towns and neighborhoods in Chechnya. He denounced the UN peacekeeping forces for the killing of hundreds of civilians in Angola, not NATO force bombed Milosevic’s Belgrade city million citizens, the elderly and infants of women and children. morality of war gets correct in principle, not just politically, what America did in Afghanistan, including the massive bombing of human settlements, including the creation of the movement of refugees of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from the war, and thousands of them left home to return to.
And our war it is doubly true that the enemy soldiers hiding in the population only because of the support they can fight. Behind every terrorist there are dozens of men and women, without which he could not rope. Participants inciting hostilities mosques, curriculum writers murderous, shelter providers, automotive suppliers, and ITS honor and moral support. All the enemy fighters and all the blood in the head. Now it also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They need to follow their sons, nothing is right that. They need to go, and physical home where they raised their snake. Otherwise grow other small snakes.
But this week there are celebrations and respect in both houses of the two despicable murderers. I guess there opened mourning tents, and all the dignitaries of the city come to honor the mother and father who raised the devil. Both of these homes need to bomb from the air, to destroy and to kill. And should inform that this is done here on every home of every martyr. There is nothing right hand, and probably not even anything useful from it. Hamlet should know that he takes with him his parents and his house and some neighbors. All Om – Jihad heroine sends her son into hell needs to know that she was going with him. Along with the house and everything in it.
Counterterrorism can not be targeted. It’s a war. What focus does not thwart what frustrates unfocused. No snide We started the war that we can not finish it. Keys for a ceasefire in the hands of the Palestinian people. We can only singe their fingers until they want to use them. ”
Facebook entry finishes

Does Netanyahu want an all out war?

The more I think about it, the more I am coming to the view that Netanyahu, or at least many of the forces around him, want a new all-out Arab-Israeli war.
Israeli expansionists – I don’t use ‘Zionist’ because it has so many different meanings, some anti-Semitic – have always had grand schemes and played a long game. They now see ISIS audaciously carving out a caliphate state on the areas of Syria and North East Iraq devastated by war, communalism and civil war. Despite the fact that this caliphate state will likely be short-lived, it has too many contradictions to survive in its present form, you can see the smile of admiration on Netanyahu’s face. It is the politics of the accomplished fact. Seize the moment brutally and then say to those who disagree with you ‘so what are you going to do about it?’
There has been an incremental, and from the expansionist’s viewpoint painfully slow, undermining of the integrity of the Palestinian West Bank by the expansionists’ settlement programme. At one moment Netanyahu like Sharon before him supported the settlements, at another moment under international and domestic Israeli pressure, they rebuked them.
Much of the ‘anti-Zionist’ left do not see the restraints that the dissent within Israel puts on the expansionists. But it has always been significant. It is understandable when looking at their treatment of the Palestinians that many might scoff at the Israeli’s government claim, accepted by many Israelis, to be a civilised democracy. However, civil liberties in Israel do allow oppositionists to criticise and to hold mass demonstrations against its actions. At least they have so far.
True, if those demonstrations are of Palestinians, they are treated very differently. Surrounded by IDF soldiers, armoured vehicles, snipers and snatch squads, Israel treats those as security threats. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as they often end with physical confrontation, albeit a hugely unequal one with frequent atrocities committed upon Palestinians.
The Israeli government can conduct brutal repression like this and even imprison their own refuseniks because ‘war is different’ and we all know how every government gets away quite literally with murder during military actions. And that hypocritical dualism of a reasonably cultured civil society functioning alongside brutal military atrocities has long been a feature not only of Israel but of many ‘democratic’ nations.
I don’t know how organised or disorganised the opponents of expansionism in Israel currently are. If a mass demonstration suddenly appears in Tel Aviv in condemnation of the Gaza actions it wouldn’t be unprecedented. The mass demonstrations against the Israeli actions in Lebanon took most of us by surprise. But at the moment those oppositionists appear worryingly isolated and weaker than they have been.
Instead there appears to be a wave of anti-Arab feeling sweeping through Israel. I don’t understand its causes fully. The steady but very limited rocket attacks from Hamas and the murder of the 3 Israeli teenagers have undoubtedly had an effect. But Israel has endured suicide bombings with multiple civilian deaths in the past but I don’t think there was a comparable racist civilian backlash to what we see now.
Another earlier mobilising issue for the right in Israel was Iran’s threats to wipe it off the face of the map. But these earlier largely rhetorical threats pretty much disappeared with the demise of Rafsanjani. So again, why now this rise in anti-Arab racism?
The formation of the ISIS caliphate may well be a substantial part of the explanation. The moves towards a Muslim civil-war engulfing much of the area may well have led to a belief that this is some sort of Armageddon moment. Is this what the anti-Arab racists are using to mobilise?
The war between ISIS and Shia forces will undoubtedly cause Netanyahu to speculate that 2 of Israel’s major armed enemies, Hezbollah and Hamas, may be both divided and deprived of support as they are drawn in on different sides of a potential Muslim regional civil war.
What we are seeing from Netanyahu may be a calculated provocation for a new war in the belief that now is a good time.
This might be wild speculation on my part and I am hoping friends will be able to say that it cannot happen for all sorts of reasons – any reason.
For a war would be a disaster – for the Palestinians most obviously. With rising anti-Arab racist forces behind him, international pressure is unlikely to have much effect on Netanyahu although obviously it should be mobilised.
The key still must be not only the self-defense of Palestinians in Gaza and also the West Bank. They will need to defend themselves and they will have massive international support and sympathy. But it is difficult to see the disastrous racist strategy of Hamas towards Israelis citizens being sidelined and that will continue to inflame the situation. There were some indications of democratic opposition to Hamas during the Arab Spring and even afterwards with a Palestinian replica of the Egyptian Tamarood (the Egyptian Tamarood had built a mass movement that last year brought down the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Morsi. Later, shamefully, supporting the brutal military repression by the Egyptian Army). But hopes of a democratic force in Gaza capable of asserting itself either politically or militarily against Israel as well as Hamas looks ludicrously unrealistic – especially in the middle of a militarily bombardment.
The only other serious possible opposition to a siege of Gaza and a wider conflagration lies within Israel. It needs to be as visible and active as it can be.
Those of us outside of this growing cauldron need to be encouraging these forces, seemingly pathetically weak at the moment, in Gaza, elsewhere in the Occupied Territories but most importantly in Israel that oppose the siege of Gaza and any wider war plans of Netanyahu – and can advocate a solution of 2 free states for 2 free peoples, that can end the continuing madness of war. Ultimately they are the only ones that can stop it.