Both Israel and Hamas share blood stained policies in Gaza war crimes

Ray Hanania

Posted Dec 29, 2008      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Both Israel and Hamas share blood stained policies in Gaza war crimes

By Ray Hanania

If you listen to the Palestinians and Arab groups organizing protests against Israel’s attacks that have killed more than 200, mostly civilians, you would think Israel was unprovoked. And, if you listen to the Israelis who have both the one-sided and biased mainstream American media and pro-Israeli American government establishment on their side, you would think that Israel had to kill the Palestinians to prevent more killings of Israelis.

But, like all conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, the truth is lost, somewhere in the middle, amidst a cacophony of screaming, politics and revenge that exploits, rather than protects, the innocent victims on both sides whose lives will continue to be lost.

Just as Israel’s attacks against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are war crimes for having taken a huge toll in civilian lives — more than 200 civilian lives that Israeli leaders refuse to acknowledge — the Hamas attacks against Israel that have taken far fewer lives are war crimes, too.

It is not an issue of “moral equivalency” as the Israeli government argues, dicing principle and morality to suit their political needs and satisfy their own lust for vengeance.

It is an issue of principle and morality, that the taking of innocent lives is never acceptable and never justified. The knowledge that innocent civilian lives will be lost in a given military act of violence is in and of itself a war crime, a condemnation of President Bush, who urged Israel to avoid as best they can taking Palestinian civilians lives — an acknowledgment that civilians are being killed.

Israel says, and has released one video to support its arguments, that it is striking Hamas rocket launching sites “hidden” among civilian neighborhoods. Obviously, they are not hidden very well. While the video distributed by Israel shows a missile being fired by a US-made F-16 fighter flown by Israeli pilots, with the missile destroying the target as well as everything in the area including civilian homes, the presence of the launcher itself is not justification for the civilian casualties.

Israel’s government can claim that it is “reacting” to Hamas provocation, but that is not completely true, either. In fact, although Israeli’s soldiers are not physically inside the Gaza Strip, Israel has a deadly choke-hold on the entire Gaza Strip and turns on and off travel, food, electricity and sustenance at will. Israel’s government enters the Gaza Strip and kills Hamas leaders. And they don’t expect the Hamas extremists to respond?

At the same time, who the hell is Hamas? It is a terrorist organization that has exploited decades of Palestinian suffering to build up a religious-based tyranny that claims to be championing the rights of the people, but in fact uses terrorism and violence to block all forms of peace. It’s a strategy of violence based on the targeting of Israeli civilians.

Hamas leaders won one election several years ago but it was an election system that was flawed. It combined, stupidly, an election with an election primary. Anyone who doesn’t know the difference in those events dare not claim that Hamas was democratically elected, including President Jimmy Carter who “monitored” the “election” but failed to note its problems.

Hamas is founded on violence. Its entire purpose is to sabotage the peace process that began with Palestinian President Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. While Arafat was not as forthcoming a partner as former President Clinton, Rabin and the Israelis had hoped, he was a secular leader who was willing to compromise in exchange for peace.

Hamas is not willing to compromise for peace. It is willing to compromise Palestinian civilian lives. It is willing to murder innocent Israeli civilians in suicide bombings to stop the peace process and allow it to cling to the false dream of turning the clock back 100 years when Palestine was a region dominated by one religion at the exclusion of others, a land Palestinians never governed because its selfish leaders were satisfied with the foreign occupying powers.

Don’t expect anyone on either side to stand up and say what needs to be said. Palestinians and Arabs will denounce Israel and scream with emotion for Jewish blood in sparsely attended protests across the United States.

In Israel and in the halls of Congress and the news rooms across the same country that Israel’s government manages and easily manipulates — the media and government are willing victims of manipulation — the Jewish people and the Israelis will scream with emotion for the blood of Palestinians and an end to compromise that their own extremist leaders helped long ago to kill first with their murder of Rabin and later through policies of lies and distortion that discouraged and prevented peace but permitted them to confiscate more and more land.

It is depressing to see the continued murder. But until truly principled and moral leaders arise who support real justice, and a real end to violence, and a return to basic human rights, and the application of the rule of law, this tragic dance will continue to create ashes of suffering, hypocrisy and extremism.

Are there any courageous Palestinian or Israeli leaders willing to stand up and denounce the violence on both sides? To stop pointing fingers? To embrace the only real solution that everyone already knows exists? Two-states, side by side, land for peace. Sharing Jerusalem. Compensation and apologies on all sides, to Palestinian and Jewish refugees.

That may require more courage than most Palestinians and Israelis are willing to show. These days, it is so much easier to be an extremist and exploit the tragedy and pander to the public’s cries of grief and vengeance.

Change? Change that!

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached ar and by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)