Sunday, 4 January 2009
Let's say a police car is driving in front of my house, and I decide to throw a rock at it. The rock breaks one of the car's windows, and as the driver slams on the brakes, I run inside my house. Based on my actions, the police officers have every right to knock on my door, come inside, and arrest me for destruction of property, assault, or other reasonable charges. What they don't have the right to do is stack dynamite around my house, and the houses of my two next door neighbors, and blow up all three of our houses, killing all the men, women, and children inside. But that's exactly what the Israeli military is doing, and it's exactly what the U.S. government says it supports.
Three days ago, an Israeli missile slammed into the home of Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, destroying his house and killing Rayan, his four wives, and eleven of his children. Perhaps Rayan was guilty of crimes against Israel, but I don't think his wives were, and I'm sure his children weren't. Killing Rayan is arguably an act of war. Killing his wives and children is not.
As is often the case with Israeli actions against the Palestinians, the U.S. stands virtually alone with Israel as it attempts to justify its atrocities, of which killing the Rayan family is only one among many in the latest stage of the Gaza conflict. The Israeli military has also bombed mosques, other homes, and public spaces, killing at least 460 Palestinians so far. By contrast, only 4 Israelis have been killed by Hamas rocket attacks. Are the Hamas rocket attacks worthy of condemnation? Absolutely, and especially because they are usually launched against civilian targets, but so are many of the Israeli attacks.
The president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua has condemned the Israeli assault on Gaza as another in a long line of illegitimate exercises of power, and in so doing he joins the voices of many other world leaders. Of course the UN Security Council, with its arcane, undemocratic structure that gives veto power to the U.S. and four other permanent member countries, won't issue a statement condemning the assault, since the Bush administration refuses to make even mild criticisms of Israel's actions.
In the meantime, Israel has launched a ground invasion of Gaza and tightened border security, with the result that hundreds of Palestinians with life-threatening diseases or injuries cannot get the medical care they need. Electricity, water, and food are in short supply, and jobs for those who want to work are almost nonexistent. There is a word for the actions Israel is taking, with the full support of the U.S. It is murder, plain and simple.