It's Mostly Punishment

| 11/26/2012 3:33:14 PM


To read about what Americans can do about human rights abuses in Palestine, check out "Can We Hold Israel Accountable," by Stephen Zunes.  

This post originally appeared at TomDispatch.  

“There is no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” President Barack Obama said at a press conference last week. He drew on this general observation in order to justify Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel’s most recent military campaign in the Gaza Strip. In describing the situation this way, he assumes, like many others, that Gaza is a political entity external and independent of Israel. This is not so. It is true that Israel officially disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, withdrawing its ground troops and evacuating the Israeli settlements there. But despite the absence of a permanent ground presence, Israel has maintained a crushing control over Gaza from that moment until today.

The testimonies of Israeli army veterans expose the truth of that “disengagement.” Before Operation Pillar of Defense, after all, Israel launched Operations Summer Rains and Autumn Clouds in 2006, and Hot Winter and Cast Lead in 2008 -- all involving ground invasions. In one testimony, a veteran speaks of “a battalion operation” in Gaza that lasted for five months, where the soldiers were ordered to shoot “to draw out terrorists” so they “could kill a few.”

Israeli naval blockades stop Gazans from fishing, a main source of food in the Strip. Air blockades prevent freedom of movement. Israel does not allow building materials into the area, forbids exports to the West Bank and Israel, and (other than emergency humanitarian cases) prohibits movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It controls the Palestinian economy by periodically withholding import taxes. Its restrictions have impeded the expansion and upgrading of the Strip’s woeful sewage infrastructure, which could render life in Gaza untenable within a decade. The blocking of seawater desalination has turned the water supply into a health hazard. Israel has repeatedly demolished small power plants in Gaza, ensuring that the Strip would have to continue to rely on the Israeli electricity supply. Daily power shortages have been the norm for several years now. Israel’s presence is felt everywhere, militarily and otherwise.

By relying on factual misconceptions, political leaders, deliberately or not, conceal information that is critical to our understanding of events. Among the people best qualified to correct those misconceptions are the individuals who have been charged with executing a state’s policies -- in this case, Israeli soldiers themselves, an authoritative source of information about their government’s actions. I am a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and I know that our first-hand experiences refute the assumption, accepted by many, including President Obama, that Gaza is an independent political entity that exists wholly outside Israel. If Gaza is outside Israel, how come we were stationed there? If Gaza is outside Israel, how come we control it? Oded Na’aman 

Robert Abramson
12/4/2012 5:15:46 PM

UTNE is a great source of false propaganda. Hitler had his well oiled propaganda machine . Hitler said if you say it long enough and loud enough people will beleive it . UTNE should check out the American NAZI party site they have numerous pamphlets filled with lies and hate that would be perfect for UTNE. The editor of UTNE must have gone to the college of corupt journalism . The selection of articles UTNE publishes doesn't promote anything good. The articles promote hate,distrust and lies. If I owned OGDEN publications I would fire the editor and replace him with someone who is not a bigot. He should go to FOX news and work with Rush Limbaugh . America, is full of crazys. The hate groups are growing by leaps and bounds. UTNE is helping to undermine the stability of this country and the rule of law. We need editors who want to improve this world not spread lies , hate and mistrust. I think OGDEN publications needs to police itself and get out of the business of spreading lies. OGDEN publications has many fine magazines that are informative and entertaining. They should reform UTNE or shut it down and devote the resources to the other publications. I have been all over the world,all over America,served in the military for many years,worked for the Federal Government,been a corporate executive and I know lies, hate and propaganda from the truth.UTNE is bad for AMERICA.

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