Yesterday I read a rather uplifting article in Bangkok Post by Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton Universty and UN special rapporteur for the Occupied Palestine Territories. Uplifting because it was so different from the Swedish media coverage, the Swedish papers hardly never even refering to Palestine as occupied... People debating in Sweden actually question the very existense of Palestine, using brackets refering to "Palestinians". (Just have a look at Newsmill.)
This blog post is referring to the whole article, but you may of course read it yourself. :)
Falk tried to enter Israel a couple of weeks ago to carry out his mission by the UN monitoring respect for human rights in Occupied Palestine. (West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.) He was expelled from Israel, never allowed to enter...
Falk argues that the ceasefire actually cut Israeli casualties to zero despite periodic home-made rockets being fired from Gaza. Of course these rockets caused anxiety in Sderot but he means that it hardly justified the onslaught by Israel.
Nowhere in Swedish media have I read that Hamas actually offered a ten year truce to a receptivity to a ploitical solution on 1967's borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives and their part of the ceasefire agreement: continuing the blockade of food, medicine and fuel to Gaza.
Israel also refused exit permits to
- students with foreign fellowship awards
- Gazan journalists
- NGO representantives
and made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter.
Falk is critisizing that the American public, as the Swedish, gets its news through an "exeedingly pro-israeli media lens". (Although the editorial of Dagens Nyheter claims the opposite...)
Falk points out that
- Hamas gets the blame although there was no substantial rocket fire from Gaza during the ceasfire until Israel launched an attack on Nov 4 at "Palestine militants" killing several Palestinians
- Attributing everything to Hamas is wrong. E g the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is anti-Hamas and even Fata had difficulties controlling such fractions when in "control" of Gaza, with UN support.
Professor Falk lifts some different reasons for Israeli aggression, from the most obvious to stop the rockets and to retaliate.
First there is the national elections coming up in February (if not postponed). Ehus Barak and Tzipi Livni are of course eager to win the elections demonstrating their toughness. Something I lifted here on the blog last week. Such shows of force are not uncommon in Israeli election campaigns, according to Falk.
Secondly, Israeli military commanders want to erase the memories of their failure to destroy Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006.
Third, as historian Benny Morris wrote in New York Times, you may compare the launch on Gaza with the Israeli public mood of 1967, when Israel felt threatened by Arab mobilisation on their borders. This is fueled by the continuing refusal of the Arab world to accept the existence of Israel, the inflammatory threats made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad together with Iran's bid for nuclear weapons, the fading memory of the Holocaust combinded with growing sympaty for the Palestinian plight in the West. The radicalization of politics in Israel's borders in form of Hizbollah and Hamas forming government parties, are also contributing to the Israeli fear.
Morris argues that israel wants to send a message that it stops at nothing to uphold its claims of sovereignty and security.
The conclusion that Falk draws is
1. The Gaza population is severely victimised for reasons beyond rockets and border concerns.
2. That such a human catastrophe can happen without outside interference, shows the weakness of international law and of the UN. [I even read an editorial in Dagens Nyheter that tried to smear the outspoken Norwegian doctor for being communist and thereby, according to the DN logic, not trustworthy.]
The critical factors are, according to Falk, the US' passive support of whatever israel does, and that Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are hostile towards Hamas and Iran makes them willing to stand aside.
Falk points out that what Israel calls a "total war" with attacks by F-16 fighter bombers and Apache helicopters against an essentially defenceless society that laxks any defensive military capacity is more suggestive of a massacre than a war.
"The public can shout and march all over the world but the killing will go on without interruption."
Falk is hoping for the new US leadership that promised its citizens change. Yeah, hope is the last thing to abandone us...