By Uri Avnery
January 6, 2009
Uri Avnery is an Israeli peace activist who has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside
Those who decided to close the crossings — under whatever pretext — knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.
That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react. After several months, in which hardly any Qassam rockets were launched, an army unit was sent into the Strip “in order to destroy a tunnel that came close to the border fence”. From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and — lo and behold — the cease-fire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas.
What was the aim? Tzipi Livni announced it openly: to liquidate Hamas rule in
Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of The March of Folly. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: “We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation.”
For years, the occupation authorities favoured the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy; Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.
With the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, the Islamic movement officially renamed itself Hamas (Arabic initials of “Islamic Resistance Movement”) and joined the fight. Even then, the Shin-Bet took no action against them for almost a year, while Fatah members were executed or imprisoned in large numbers. Only after a year, were Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his colleagues also arrested.
Since then the wheel has turned. Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in
But logic has little influence on politics. Nothing of this sort happened. On the contrary, after the murder of Arafat, Ariel Sharon declared that Mahmoud Abbas, who took his place, was a “plucked chicken”. Abbas was not allowed the slightest political achievement. The negotiations, under American auspices, became a joke. The most authentic Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was sent to prison for life. Instead of a massive prisoner release, there were petty and insulting “gestures”.
Abbas was systematically humiliated, Fatah looked like an empty shell and Hamas won a resounding victory in the Palestinian election — the most democratic election ever held in the Arab world.
And now, after all this, the government of
The official name of the war is “Cast Lead”, two words from a children’s song about a Hanukkah toy.
It would be more accurate to call it “The Election War”.
According to the polls, Barak’s predicted election result rose within 48 hours by five Knesset seats. About 80 dead Palestinians for each seat. But it is difficult to walk on a pile of dead bodies. The success may evaporate in a minute if the war comes to be considered by the Israeli public as a failure. For example, if the rockets continue to hit
The timing was chosen meticulously from another angle too. The attack started two days after Christmas, when American and European leaders are on holiday until after New Year. The calculation: even if somebody wanted to try and stop the war, no one would give up his holiday. That ensured several days free from outside pressures.
Another reason for the timing: these are George Bush’s last days in the White House. This blood-soaked moron could be expected to support the war enthusiastically, as indeed he did. Barack Obama has not yet entered office and had a ready-made pretext for keeping silent: “there is only one President”. The silence does not bode well for the term of President Obama.
The main line was: not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon War II. This was endlessly repeated on all the news programmes and talk shows.
This does not change the fact: the Gaza War is an almost exact replica of the second
It may be that the army will “have no alternative” but to re-conquer the Gaza Strip because there is no other way to stop the Qassams — except coming to an agreement with Hamas, which is contrary to government policy. When the ground invasion starts, everything will depend on the motivation and capabilities of the Hamas fighters vis-à-vis the Israeli soldiers. Nobody can know what will happen.
Millions are seeing the terrible images of the conflict, day after day. These images are imprinted on their minds forever: horrible
But there is another thing that is being imprinted on the minds of these millions: the picture of the miserable, corrupt, passive Arab regimes.
As seen by Arabs, one fact stands out above all others: the wall of shame.
For the million and a half Arabs in
Throughout the Arab world, from end to end, there echoed the words of Hassan Nasrallah: The leaders of
This will have historic consequences. A whole generation of Arab leaders, a generation imbued with the ideology of secular Arab nationalism, the successors of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yasser Arafat, may be swept from the stage. In the Arab space, the only viable alternative is the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.
This war is a writing on the wall:
My taxi driver in Tel-Aviv the other day was thinking aloud: Why not call up the sons of the ministers and members of the Knesset, form them into a combat unit and send them off to head the coming ground attack on