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Eyeless in Gaza by Uri Avnery  | from Tikkun

Editor’s Note: One of the most bizarre responses I’ve gotten to some of what I’ve written on Gaza is the whine “What can we do? They are shelling us?” This rarely comes with an acknowledgment that the shells almost never get through (for which I’m quite thankful, because I want my people to be safe. Of course, the obvious answer that seems beyond the capacity of these respondents to imagine is: What Israel can do is apologize for its part in creating the Palestinian refugee problem and for all the damage that has happened since then (not 100% responsible, but apologize for its part instead of pretend to be the righteous victim), end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza (my book Embracing Israel/Palestine lays out how that culd be done in a way that would be both respectful to Palestinians and safe for Israeliswww.tikkun.org/eip) and assist in creating an economically and politically viable Palestinian state, and do so in a spirit of repentance, and genuine open-heartedness. That’s what Israel could do. It reminds me of the days when US liberals would say to us in the anti-war movement against the war in Vietnam, “You are right that this is a mess, but how can we get out now?” Our answer was simple: with boats and airplanes. At the time that was dismissed as simplistic, but after another thirty thousand Americans were killed, the ruling elites of the country figured out just what we had figured out years before–that it was as easy as getting into planes and boats and leaving. Of course, Israel is not the same situation–they live next door to the Palestinian people. But they could try generosity and caring for the other (no, when Israel left Gaza before, it wasn’t with a spirit of generosity, but as a trick, refusing to give control to the Palestinian Authority, saying there was noone to talk to, and knowing that that would be giving Gaza to Hamas, which is what the rightwing strategists wanted in order to precipitate a civil war among the Palestinians). This time they could try an honest strategy of generosity. Unlikely that they will until lots of more innocent people,both Israelis and Palestinians lose their lives or their limbs. And this continues to break my heart. -Rabbi Michael Lerner

Eyeless in Gaza by Uri Avnery

*THE TROUBLE with war is that it has two sides.**
**
Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course.*

There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect.

And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it.

When the two plans meet, everything goes wrong. Both plans break down. You don’t know what’s going to happen. How to go on. You do things you have not planned for. And when you have had enough of it and want to get out, you don’t know how. It’s so much more difficult to end a war than to start a war, especially when both sides need to declare victory.

That’s where we are now.

HOW DID it all start? Depends where you want to begin.

Like everywhere else, every event in Gaza is a reaction to another event. You do something because the other side did something. Which they did because you did something. One can unravel this until the beginning of history. Or at least until Samson the Hero.

Samson, it will be remembered, was captured by the Philistines, blinded and brought to Gaza. There he committed suicide by bringing the temple down on himself and all the leaders and people, crying out: “Let my soul die with the Philistines!” (Judges 16:30)

If that’s too remote, let’s start with the beginning of the present occupation, 1967.

(There was a forgotten occupation before that. When Israel conquered the Gaza Strip and all of Sinai in the course of the 1956 Suez war, David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the “Third Israeli Kingdom”, only to announce in a broken voice, a few dates later, that he had promised President Dwight Eisenhower to withdraw from the entire Sinai Peninsula. Some Israeli parties urged him to keep at least the Gaza Strip, but he refused. He did not want to have hundreds of thousands more Arabs in Israel.)

A friend of mine reminded me of an article I had written less than two years after the Six Day War, during which we occupied Gaza again. I had just found out that two Arab road-construction workers, one from the West Bank and one from the Gaza Strip, doing exactly the same job, were paid different wages. The Gaza man was paid much less.

Being a member of the Knesset, I made inquiries. A high-level official explained to me that this was a matter of policy. The purpose was to cause the Arabs to leave Gaza and settle in the West Bank (or elsewhere), in order to disperse the 400 thousand Arabs then living in the Strip, mostly refugees from Israel. Obviously this did not go so very well – now there are about 1.80 million there.

Then, in February 1969, I warned: “(If we go on) we shall be faced with a terrible choice – to suffer from a wave of terrorism that will cover the entire country, or to engage in acts of revenge and oppression so brutal that they will corrupt our souls and cause the whole world to condemn us.”

I mention this not (only) to blow my own horn, but to show that any reasonable person could have foreseen what was going to happen.

IT TOOK a long time for Gaza to reach this point.

I remember an evening in Gaza in the mid-90s. I had been invited to a Palestinian conference (about prisoners), which lasted several days, and my hosts invited me to stay with Rachel in a hotel on the sea-shore. Gaza was then a nice place. In the late evening we took a stroll along the central boulevard. We had pleasant chats with people who recognized us as Israelis. We were happy.

I also remember the day when the Israeli army withdrew from most of the Strip. Near Gaza city there stood a huge Israeli watchtower, many floors high, “so that the Israeli soldiers could look into every window in Gaza”. When the soldiers left, I climbed to the top, passing hundreds of happy boys who were going up and down like the angels on the ladder in Jacob’s dream in the Bible. Again we were happy. They are probably Hamas members now.

That was the time when Yasser Arafat, son of a Gaza Strip family, returned to Palestine and set up his HQ in Gaza. A beautiful new airport was built. Plans for a large new sea-port were circulating.

(A big Dutch harbor-building corporation approached me discreetly and asked me to use my friendly relations with Arafat to obtain the job for them. They hinted at a very large gratuity. I politely refused. During all the years I knew Arafat, I never asked him for a favor. I think that this was the basis of our rather strange friendship.)

If the port had been built, Gaza would have become a flourishing commercial hub. The standard of living would have risen steeply, the inclination of the people to vote for a radical Islamic party would have declined.

WHY DID this not happen? Israel refused to allow the port to be built. Contrary to a specific undertaking in the 1993 Oslo agreement, Israel cut off all passages between the Strip and the West Bank. The aim was to prevent any possibility of a viable Palestinian state being set up.

True, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon evacuated the more than a dozen settlements along the Gaza shore. Today, one of our rightist slogans is “We evacuated the entire Gaza Strip and what did we get in return? Qassam rockets!” Ergo: we can’t give up the West Bank.

But Sharon did not turn the Strip over to the Palestinian Authority. Israelis are obsessed with the idea of doing things “unilaterally”. The army withdrew, the Strip was left in chaos, without a government, without any agreement between the two sides.

Gaza sank into misery. In the 2006 Palestinian elections, under the supervision of ex-President Jimmy Carter, the people of Gaza – like the people of the West Bank – gave a relative majority to the Hamas party. When Hamas was denied power, it took the Gaza Strip by force, with the population applauding.

The Israeli government reacted by imposing a blockade. Only limited quantities of goods approved by the occupation authorities were let in. An American senator raised hell when he found out that pasta was considered a security risk and not allowed in. Practically nothing was let out, which is incomprehensible from the “security” point of view of weapons “smuggling” but clear from the point of view of “strangling”. Unemployment reached almost 60%.

The Strip is roughly 40 km long and 10 km wide. In the north and the east it borders Israel, in the west it borders the sea, which is controlled by the Israeli navy. In the south it borders Egypt, which is now ruled by a brutal anti-Islamic dictatorship, allied with Israel. As the slogan goes, it is “the word’s largest open-air prison”.

BOTH SIDES now proclaim that their aim is to put an end to this situation. But they mean two very different things.

The Israeli side wants the blockade to remain in force, though in a more liberal form. Pasta and much more will be let into the Strip, but under strict supervision. No airport. No sea-port. Hamas must be prevented from re-arming.

The Palestinian side wants the blockade to be removed once and for all, even officially. They want their port and airport. They don’t mind supervision, either international or by the Palestinian Unity Government under Mahmoud Abbas.

How to square this circle, especially when the “mediator” is the Egyptian dictator, who acts practically as an agent of Israel? It is a mark of the situation that the US has disappeared as a mediator. After the futile John Kerry peace mediation efforts it is now generally despised throughout the Middle East.

Israel cannot “destroy” Hamas, as our semi-fascist politicians (in the government, too) loudly demand. Nor do they really want to. If Hamas is “destroyed”, Gaza would have to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority (viz. Fatah). That would mean the re-unification of the West Bank and Gaza, after all the long-lasting and successful Israeli efforts to divide them. No good.

If Hamas remains, Israel cannot allow the “terror-organization” to prosper. Relaxation of the blockade will only be limited, if that. The population will embrace Hamas even more, dreaming of revenge for the terrible devastation caused by Israel during this war. The next war will be just around the corner – as almost all Israelis believe anyhow.

In the end, we shall be where we were before.

THERE CAN be no real solution for Gaza without a real solution for Palestine.

The blockade must end, with serious security concerns of both sides properly addressed.

The Gaza Strip and the West Bank (with East Jerusalem) must be reunited.

The four “safe passages” between the two territories, promised in the Oslo agreement, must at last be opened.

There must be Palestinian elections, long overdue, for the presidency and the parliament, with a new government accepted by all Palestinian factions and recognized by the world community, Including Israel and the USA.

Serious peace negotiations, based on the two-state solution, must start and be concluded within a reasonable time.

Hamas must formally undertake to accept the peace agreement reached by these negotiations. Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed.

The Gaza port must be opened and enable the Strip and the entire State of Palestine to import and export goods.

There is no sense in trying to “solve” one of these problems separately. They must be solved together. They can be solved together.

Unless we want to go around and around, from one “round” to the next, without hope and redemption.

“We” – Israelis and Palestinians, locked for ever in an embrace of war.

Or do what Samson did: commit suicide.


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Uri Avnery Interview, news from Israel, Palestine and global demonstrations from Tikkun

This is a very heartening read despite the many sad and disturbing references. We have always known that evil and cruelty exist, but when the people rise together across all of Earth to resist it, to call for its end-something beautiful is born from the horror.

We shall overcome. We shall cry, mourn the dead, the wounded and the pointless destruction. But then we will rebuild-not just Gaza, but the spirit of humanity.

We will rebuild our collective humanity as a species made not of war and hate, but of love and compassion, a beautiful thread woven in the tapestry of Life not a tear rent in the fabric of the Universe.
ohnwentsya
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* *Listen to Uri Avnery’s interview from Tel Aviv*, and then read some other articles below from Israel and Palestine. As always, the views we send out reflect our desire to expose our readers to a range of discourse usually unavailable in the Western media–but NOT necessarily our views, which are expressed only in articles signed by Rabbi Michael Lerner or listed as Editorials in Tikkun magazine. We trust our readers to not confuse our desire to expand your range of analyses with a desire to advance any particular analysis unless it is filled with love, hope, compassion, open-hearted generosity and empathy!! Interview with Uri Avnery conducted by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis. Tel Aviv, Friday, July 25 Click here [ http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/israelgaza-teleconference-audio ]to listen or go to : http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/ [ http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/israelgaza-teleconference-audio ]israelgaza-teleconference-audio [ http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/israelgaza-teleconference-audio ] The first 15 minutes is background by Rabbi Michael Lerner while waiting for technological issues to be resolved till we could reach Uri Avnery on the phone. Lerner has some important insights on how to contextualize the current war in Gaza. Then most of the rest of the call is Uri Avnery, for the next hour or so. Then we have fifteen minutes of questions and conversations from call participants with Cat Zavis about the pain and strain that many who care about both the Israeli and Palestinian people are feeling as we watch the carnage contiue. If you wish Tikkun to conduct more interviews of this sort, but you are not yet a member of the Network of Spiritual Progressives or a subscriber to Tikkun, help us keep going by joining the NSP now by clicking here: www.tikkun.org/donate [ http://www.tikkun.org/donate ]
*Demonstators Assaulted in Tel Aviv After Protesting the Gazan War* Editor’s note: this is a communication we got from Tel Aviv last Friday evening. . It happened after the demonstration -the biggest in Tel Aviv against the war yet, estimates of over 6,000 demonstrators- had mostly dispersed. The now-familiar group of right-wing demonstrators had worked themselves up into a frenzy throughout the speeches by left-wing Knesset Members and bereaved parents and chants to end the war, end the siege, end the occupation, end the violence. They were screaming: “Traitors!” “Death to Arabs and Leftists!” “You all get fucked in the ass!” The usual. The two demonstrations had been tightly cordoned off by the police, though. And then, after. A large number of us were walking away, in a cluster, for safety’s sake, and then suddenly, there’s yelling, screaming, pushing. I don’t know how it started, but I do know that I looked over to see the rightists begin hitting people on the heads with their flag poles, blue and white flags crashing down. I rush over to try to calm things, speaking in an easy tone, making eye contact, and it seems to work with a few of the guys, who hesitate as they look at me. And then: Ffffsssst. And my eyes are burning. I blink rapidly. Could this be tear gas? No. My throat feels clear. But my eyes are stinging and fuzzy. I ask a bearded man next to me, also blinking and tearing up, what happened, and he says: “Pepper spray.” I don’t know if it was the right-wingers or undercover police. Next thing I do know is that I look up to see another demonstrator hit over the head with a aluminum crutch– and then blood starts pouring out, and everything seems more serious and scary. photo 5 [ https://morielrothman.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/photo-53.jpg ] Some activists -a few who I recognized as anarchists experienced at dealing with violence- ask everyone to stay together, and we walk away quickly, as a group. After a block or two, Kobi [ http://www.justvision.org/portrait/kobi-snitz ] asks me to take a few others off to the left, so five of us branch off, and the rest of the group begins to disperse in different directions. We walk, alternating between shocked laughter and silence, my eyes still fuzzy but the pain dulling. A group of about six guys- a few wearing kippahs, all seeming to be Mizrahi/Jews of Middle Eastern descent (a devastating element of these clashes is the race breakdown, with many of the leftists being Ashkenazi/white, and many of the rightists being Mizrahi. My friend, Daria [ https://twitter.com/nehedari ], who is leftist and Mizrahi said that at another demo, she wore a shirt with some phrase about being Moroccan, and folks on both sides of the barrier seemed terribly confused) saw us, recognized something or someone, and started yelling “You all get fucked in the ass!” “Fuck you all!” “We should kill you, traitors.” We kept our eyes down, did not respond, and they walked onwards. Then we got a drink -because we needed to process and because most of Tel Aviv seemed to be bopping along as usual, drinking, chatting, flags flupping, et cetera- and then went home. And the demonstration? The demonstration was good, considering. It was big, it was somber, it took itself seriously. The crowd was by far the biggest since the beginning of this recent violence, and it looked like people were trickling in all night. Here were a few of my tweet-observations: And that is all for tonight. Facebook and twitter report of more demonstrators injured, which is horrible but also really not the story, just the subplot. Gaza. All of the people there. I can’t imagine. I am wired and alert with sadness; it is 1:00 in the morning. Please, enough.

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*HUMANIZE PALESTINE*

by Mazin Qumsiyeh

The holiday at the end of Ramada brings mixed feelings and we could sense
this here in Bethlehem on the faces of our Muslim neighbors, friends and
colleagues. They tell us of their sadness at the massacres of whole
families but they also tell proudly of resistance, persistence, resilience,
self help and help to other. It is still a month of blessings. I was at the
bank of Palestine on Saturday and saw lines of people sending money to
colleagues and friends in Gaza. We had cloth and food drives. Convoys
bringing medical aid are finally being allowed to enter even as 150 bodies
were pulled from under the rubble in one neighborhood alone. Israeli
soldiers speak to Haaretz of large scale destruction of civilian
neighborhoods in Gaza and surprise and fear at the resistance fighters.
Most people understand that Gaza is a big crowded prison that is being
subjected to a most ruthless occupation that destroyed its economy and
means of livelihood. Yet, some Zionists want to convince people that
somehow resistance should not come from within this population! But there
are no winners in the latest conflict started by Israel even though both
resistance forces and Israel claim victory. Israel can claim victory by
destroying so many neighborhoods, killing nearly a thousand civilians (very
few resistance fighters). This they hope will teach a lesson not to resist.
That is a foolish dream for all this does is stoke hatred and call for
revenge from the killers and not decrease support among the population for
resistance. Israeli intelligence agents know this (see for example below
interview with ex-head of the Shin Bet). Israeli leaders know that with
every strike on “Arabs” as they like to call us, resistance actually grows
in strength and supporters. Hamas and other resistance forces gain in
stature and Netanyahu appeared tough and gained some voters from teh racist
right quarters in Israeli politics. Yet, Palestinians lives are lost that
are irreplaceable and faith in human dignity tarnished as western leaders
were forced to defend a an ongoing genocide so that they can please their
Zionist lobbyists.The price paid by all humanity is far too high.

Let me start by actual pictures and names of those Israel murdered. They
are not just numbers (1070 murdered so far including over 200 children).
PLEASE take time to get to know some of themhttp://humanizepalestine.com/ [ http://humanizepalestine.com/ ]
(there were also at least 45 Israeli soldiers killed by resistance fighters
and in some cases directly by Israeli forces; see below)

Now what is the real reason for the Gaza attack? Benjamin Netanyahu blamed
Hamas for taking three young Israeli settlers (colonial squatters in
occupied areas). It turns out even Israeli police knew that Hamas leaders
were not involved (even though teh suspects were never apprehended let
alone charged). Hamas itself said it was not involved. see
http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/killed-turning-onslaught.html [ http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/killed-turning-onslaught.html ]

But maybe this is the real reason
Armed robbery in Gaza: Israel, US, UK carve up the spoils of Palestine’s
stolen gas
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2489992/armed_robbery_in_gaza_israel_us_uk_carve_up_the_spoils_of_palestines_stolen_gas.html [http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2489992/armed_robbery_in_gaza_israel_us_uk_carve_up_the_spoils_of_palestines_stolen_gas.html ]

Governments lie, people die. Netanyahu is a consummate liar interested in
one thing only: his political and economic career. Most Israelis know that
he told them lies about this latest attack on Gaza, most know he lied to
them about settlements and why he opposed Oslo accords. Most know their
government lied to them about the success of the so called Iron Dome” (a
scam to make millions with success rate below 30%). After all they could
see for themselves falling home made rockets on their cities regularly.
They also know much more. They know that Israeli forces sometimes do the
unthinkable: e.g. Israel Murders IDF Soldier to Prevent His Capture
http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/07/26/israel-murders-idf-soldier-to-prevent-his-kidnapping/ [ http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/07/26/israel-murders-idf-soldier-to-prevent-his-kidnapping/ ]

Yuval Diskin was the director of Israel’s internal security service Shin
Bet between 2005 and 2011 and he recently 24 July 2014 had an Interview
with Der Spiegel/Reuters. He was asked ” Is Israel not essentially driving
Palestinians into the arms of Hamas? He answered “It looks that way, yes.
The people in the Gaza Strip have nothing to lose right now, just like
Hamas. And this is the problem. As long as Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim
Brotherhood was in power in Egypt, things were going great for Hamas. But
then the Egyptian army took over and within just a few days, the new regime
destroyed the tunnel economy between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, which
was crucial for Hamas. Since then, Hamas has been under immense pressure;
it can’t even pay the salaries of its public officials.”

Divkin also Stated that “The army is now trying to destroy the tunnels
between Israel and the Gaza Strip with a kind of mini-invasion, also so
that the government can show that it is doing something. …It is in equal
parts action for the sake of action and aggressive posturing.” But then he
even reveals something that all Israeli leaders know but choose to ignore:
“They [Palestinians] will never accept the status quo of the Israeli
occupation. When people lose hope for an improvement of their situation,
they radicalize. That is the nature of human beings. The Gaza Strip is the
best example of that. All the conditions are there for an explosion. So
many times in my life I was at these junctions that I can feel it almost in
my fingertips.”

He goes on to predict accurately increased shifts to extremism in Israeli
society and admitted that Israel deals with Palestinian terror different
than it does with Jewish terror. Full interview here:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-former-israeli-security-chief-yuval-diskin-a-982094.html [ http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-former-israeli-security-chief-yuval-diskin-a-982094.html ]
His observations while from a Zionist colonial perspective fits in
predicting a pressure cooker about to explode with other observers for
example see this from someone who lived in Jenin for a while: The Paper
Thin Underpinnings to Peace: Occupation and Intifada in 2014

Those of us who cut through the lies act. There were demonstration in over
100 cities including Tokyo, Paris, London, Chicago, New York, Washington,
Cairo, Tunis, Rabat etc). Some had tens of thousands and some over 100,000
participants. Here are just some inspiring photos:
http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/worldwide-protest-israeli.html [ http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/worldwide-protest-israeli.html ]
There was even a demonstration of a few thousand in Tel Aviv objecting to
the slaughter in Gaza. Some Israeli soldiers and reserves refused orders to
mobilize to Gaza. All these demonstrations had mixed groups of people (all
ethnicities and all religions). The few demonstrations for Israel and in
support of killing Palestinians were tiny and included only Jewish Zionists
(the largest was as expected in New York with a few hundred particularly
angry and racist ones). We must concentrate on doing more positive actions
and publicizing them. “Lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness”
as the old Chinese saying goes. I leave you with poignant note that a
Church in Gaza is now home to dozens of displaced Muslim families. The
pastor said that Islamic prayers in his church are welcome as Israel
destroys mosques. That is the Palestine I love. That is the Palestine that
will win. Decent Jewish citizens in the US were arrested as they
demonstrated inside the NY offices of “Friends of the IDF” (a group
supporting child killers tax deductible). That is the humanity that I love.

Let me end again with the pictures of Gaza Palestinians. Meet them and
remember them http://humanizepalestine.com/ [ http://humanizepalestine.com/ ] for they are not just numbers
(1060 so far including 200 children)

Action is the best antidote to despair

Best

Mazin
#Gaza_under_attack