Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 4, 2009


Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher - After more than eight days of Israeli bombing and Hamas rocket launching in Gaza, most notably, The New York Times had produced exactly one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists, and only one op-ed (twice the normal length and favoring Israel's bombing). The editorial, several days ago, did argue against the wisdom of a ground invasion - - but even though that invasion had become ever more likely all week the paper did not return to this subject. Amazingly, the paper has kept that silence going in Sunday's paper, with no editorial or columnist comment on the Israeli invasion. . .

On Friday, Amnesty International condemned the U.S. response to the "disproportionate" Israeli bombing of Gaza -- with largely U.S. weapons. Some of it amounts to U.S.-backed "human rights abuses," it charged.

The group recalled that the U.S. supplied most of the millions of cluster bombs dropped by Israel in the Lebanon war in 2006. . .

Meanwhile, a columnist for the Spectator in London argued for the arrest of Western journalists who have criticized Israel's actions. . . And Amir Oren, in a column at Haaretz, concluded with a call to get done with Gaza:

"The IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled."

Israel, meanwhile, maintained its ban on foreign journalists entering the Gaza Strip despite a recent Supreme Court order to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

And Gideon Levy writes in a column at Haaretz:

"Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. . . Nobody is coming to the rescue -- of Gaza or even of the remnants of humanity and Israeli democracy. The statesmen, the jurists, the poets, the authors, academe, and the news media -- pitch black over the abyss."

Eric S. Margolis, Al Jazeera - The Israeli offensive into Gaza now looks likely to short-circuit any plans Obama might have had to press Israel into withdrawing to its pre-1967 borders and sharing Jerusalem.

This has pleased Israel's supporters in North America who have been cheering the war in Gaza and have been backing away from their earlier tentative support for a land-for-peace deal.

Israel's successes in having Western media portray the Gaza offensive as an 'anti-terrorist operation' will also diminish hopes of peace talks any time soon.

During the elections, Obama bowed to the Israel lobby, offering a new US carte blanche to Israel and even accepting Israel's permanent monopoly of all of Jerusalem. As he concludes forming his cabinet, his Middle East team looks like it may be top-heavy with friends of Israel's Labor party.

Obama keeps saying he must remain silent on policy issues until George Bush, the outgoing US president, leaves office, but his staff appear happy to avoid having to make statements about Gaza that would antagonize Israel's American supporters.

Obama will take office facing a Middle East up in arms over Gaza and the entire Muslim world blaming the US for the carnage in Gaza. Unless he moves swiftly to distance himself from the policies of the Bush administration, he will soon find himself facing the same problems and anger as the Bush White House.

Israel's Gaza offensive is also likely to torpedo the current Saudi-sponsored peace plan, which had been backed by all members of the Arab League.

The plan, now likely defunct, had called for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders and share Jerusalem in exchange for full recognition and normalized relations with the Muslim world.

Arab governments will now be unable to sell the deal as they face a storm of criticism from their own people over their powerlessness to help the Palestinians of Gaza.

Egypt, in particular, is being widely accused of collaborating with Israel in further sealing off and isolating Gaza. It seems highly unlikely they will be able to advance a peace plan with Israel for now. . .

This is a bonus for right-wing Israelis, who have always been dead set against any withdrawal and strongly supported the attack on Gaza. Israel is confident that its mighty information machine will allow it to weather the storm of worldwide outrage over its Biblical punishment of Gaza. Who remembers Israel's flattening of parts of the Palestinian city of Jenin, or the US destruction in Falluja, Iraq, or the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Beirut?

Though the torment of Gaza is seen across the horrified Muslim world as a modern version of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising by Jews against the Nazis during World War Two, Western governments still appear bent on taking no action.

Though Israel's use of American weapons against Gaza violates the US Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts, the docile US Congress will remain mute.

Israel's assault on Gaza was clearly timed for America's interregnum between administrations and the year-end holidays, a well-used Israeli tactic. . .

The Muslim world is in a rage. But so what? Stalin liked to say "the dogs bark, and the caravan moves on," and as long as the US gives Israel carte blanche, it can do just about anything it wants.

The tragedy of Palestine will thus continue to poison US relations with the Muslim world.

Those Americans who still do not understand why their nation was attacked on 9/11 need only look to Gaza, for which the US is now being blamed as much as Israel.

Mondo Weiss - The Israeli invasion of Gaza is turning into a rerun of a show that was horrible the first time. Comparisons to the 2006 Israeli war in Lebanon abound. One of the current story lines is whether the U.S. is working for a cease fire or trying to prevent one. Ha'aretz reports "U.S. quashes Arab-backed Gaza cease-fire resolution in UN Security Council meet": The United States thwarted an effort by Libya on Sunday to persuade the UN Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after Israel launched a ground invasion, diplomats said.

Several council diplomats told reporters that the U.S. refusal to back a Libyan-drafted demand for an immediate truce at a closed-door emergency session had killed the initiative, since council statements must be passed unanimously.

The last time the U.S. derailed a ceasefire agreement to end Israeli aggression was the 2006 Lebanon War when Secretary Rice said, "What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East not going back to the old one." In that case the U.S. argued that Israel needed more time to accomplish its goals against Hizbollah. Those "birth pangs" led to southern Lebanon being decimated and Hizbollah emerging stronger than ever.

Interestingly, Ha'aretz is also reporting: "Sources: U.S. truce efforts have yet to address Israel's needs." So maybe the U.S. is trying to broker a cease fire although the article doesn't make it clear what exactly the U.S. truce offer is lacking, or what exactly Israel needs, other than more time to destroy Gaza. The article ends, "The ground operation will help Israel improve its ability to realize the regional objectives it has set for itself in launching Operation Cast Lead," a senior official in Jerusalem told Haaretz on Saturday.

Also similar to Lebanon: the goals for the attack seem to be changing midstream. Originally the goals of the Israeli attacks on Gaza were to end the missiles being fired on southern Israel. Now the "regional objectives" are increasingly being articulated as removing Hamas from power. A goal, the New York Times adds, "almost no one familiar with Gaza and Palestinian politics considers . . . realistic."


Blogger Ted said...

Why Obama silent?


When counting the electoral votes, either Congress finds by 1/8/09 that Obama, not being an Article II “natural born citizen”, fails to qualify as President whereupon Biden becomes the full fledged President under 3 USC 19 (free to pick his own VP such as Hillary) or thereafter defers to the Supreme Court to enjoin Obama’s inauguration with Biden becoming only Acting President under the 20th Amendment until a new President is duly determined.

The preferable choice, at least for the Democrats, should seem obvious.

January 4, 2009 11:40 AM  
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January 4, 2009 2:26 PM  
Anonymous robbie said...

umm, you know I didn't vote for Obama and I don't necessarily like him all that much, but would you people stop with ths crap? He is an American citizen. Get over it.

January 4, 2009 4:39 PM  
OpenID hippasus said...

Today's UK Observer, in a piece written from Jerusalem, reveals how the Israeli's have been quietly lobbying and preparing for the propaganda war for "months", Israel's hidden agenda.
A review of some of the smaller Palestinian news agencies and blogs from Palestine indicate Israel set up its excuses in early November: Hippasus on how Israel breached the ceasefire to set up an invasion

January 4, 2009 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top 5 Lies About Israel’s Assault on Gaza

Jeremy R. Hammond
Dissident Voice
Monday, Jan 5, 2008

Lie #1) Israel is only targeting legitimate military sites and is seeking to protect innocent lives. Israel never targets civilians.

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated pieces of property in the world. The presence of militants within a civilian population does not, under international law, deprive that population of their protected status, and hence any assault upon that population under the guise of targeting militants is, in fact, a war crime.

Moreover, the people Israel claims are legitimate targets are members of Hamas, which Israel says is a terrorist organization. Hamas has been responsible for firing rockets into Israel. These rockets are extremely inaccurate and thus, even if Hamas intended to hit military targets within Israel, are indiscriminate by nature. When rockets from Gaza kill Israeli civilians, it is a war crime.

Hamas has a military wing. However, it is not entirely a military organization, but a political one. Members of Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Dozens of these elected leaders have been kidnapped and held in Israeli prisons without charge. Others have been targeted for assassination, such as Nizar Rayan, a top Hamas official. To kill Rayan, Israel targeted a residential apartment building. The strike not only killed Rayan but two of his wives and four of his children, along with six others. There is no justification for such an attack under international law. This was a war crime.

Other of Israel’s bombardment with protected status under international law have included a mosque, a prison, police stations, and a university, in addition to residential buildings.

Moreover, Israel has long held Gaza under siege, allowing only the most minimal amounts of humanitarian supplies to enter. Israel is bombing and killing Palestinian civilians. Countless more have been wounded, and cannot receive medical attention. Hospitals running on generators have little or no fuel. Doctors have no proper equipment or medical supplies to treat the injured. These people, too, are the victims of Israeli policies targeted not at Hamas or legitimate military targets, but directly designed to punish the civilian population.

Lie #2) Hamas violated the cease-fire. The Israeli bombardment is a response to Palestinian rocket fire and is designed to end such rocket attacks.

Israel never observed the cease-fire to begin with. From the beginning, it announced a “special security zone” within the Gaza Strip and announced that Palestinians who enter this zone will be fired upon. In other words, Israel announced its intention that Israeli soldiers would shoot at farmers and other individuals attempting to reach their own land in direct violation of not only the cease-fire but international law.

Despite shooting incidents, including ones resulting in Palestinians getting injured, Hamas still held to the cease-fire from the time it went into effect on June 19 until Israel effectively ended the truce on November 4 by launching an airstrike into Gaza that killed five and injured several others.

Israel’s violation of the cease-fire predictably resulted in retaliation from militants in Gaza who fired rockets into Israel in response. The increased barrage of rocket fire at the end of December is being used as justification for the continued Israeli bombardment, but is a direct response by militants to the Israeli attacks.

Israel’s actions, including its violation of the cease-fire, predictably resulted in an escalation of rocket attacks against its own population.

Lie #3) Hamas is using human shields, a war crime.

There has been no evidence that Hamas has used human shields. The fact is, as previously noted, Gaza is a small piece of property that is densely populated. Israel engages in indiscriminate warfare such as the assassination of Nizar Rayan, in which members of his family were also murdered. It is victims like his dead children that Israel defines as “human shields” in its propaganda. There is no legitimacy for this interpretation under international law. In circumstances such as these, Hamas is not using human shields, Israel is committing war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international law.

Lie #4) Arab nations have not condemned Israel’s actions because they understand Israel’s justification for its assault.

The populations of those Arab countries are outraged at Israel’s actions and at their own governments for not condemning Israel’s assault and acting to end the violence. Simply stated, the Arab governments do not represent their respective Arab populations. The populations of the Arab nations have staged mass protests in opposition to not only Israel’s actions but also the inaction of their own governments and what they view as either complacency or complicity in Israel’s crimes.

Moreover, the refusal of Arab nations to take action to come to the aid of the Palestinians is not because they agree with Israel’s actions, but because they are submissive to the will of the US, which fully supports Israel. Egypt, for instance, which refused to open the border to allow Palestinians wounded in the attacks to get medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals, is heavily dependent upon US aid, and is being widely criticized within the population of the Arab countries for what is viewed as an absolute betrayal of the Gaza Palestinians.

Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been regarded as a traitor to his own people for blaming Hamas for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Palestinians are also well aware of Abbas’ past perceived betrayals in conniving with Israel and the US to sideline the democratically elected Hamas government, culminating in a counter-coup by Hamas in which it expelled Fatah (the military wing of Abbas’ Palestine Authority) from the Gaza Strip. While his apparent goal was to weaken Hamas and strengthen his own position, the Palestinians and other Arabs in the Middle East are so outraged at Abbas that it is unlikely he will be able to govern effectively.

Lie #5) Israel is not responsible for civilian deaths because it warned the Palestinians of Gaza to flee areas that might be targeted.

Israel claims it sent radio and telephone text messages to residents of Gaza warning them to flee from the coming bombardment. But the people of Gaza have nowhere to flee to. They are trapped within the Gaza Strip. It is by Israeli design that they cannot escape across the border. It is by Israeli design that they have no food, water, or fuel by which to survive. It is by Israeli design that hospitals in Gaza have no electricity and few medical supplies with which to treat the injured and save lives. And Israel has bombed vast areas of Gaza, targeting civilian infrastructure and other sites with protected status under international law. No place is safe within the Gaza Strip.

January 5, 2009 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel or Zionist want to get palestine place coZ God never give country for Israel. Israel people don't have heart to anyone. They think us 'goyyim or animal', except jews. they r thief, the baddest people in the world. They make the other sex like sodoms sex coZ they have dead sea. Dead sea is sodom place. Their God is Samiri. They had changed bible. They dream to make the new world. they think "not the end of the world". They had killed kennedy, Lady die, martin Luther king.america is their kid's country. Human Rights was made by Israel. We wait the hand of the God so that Israel people die all. amin

January 11, 2009 4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was very interesting how Palestine chose to initiate its attack on Gaza when the white house was switching administrations. I would think that the previous administration would deal with all problems until the next administration was fully settled. However, the article provided a very convincing statements regarding the time that Palestine attacked. Now Obama has some problems facing him with the attack on Gaza so successful.

February 9, 2009 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems there is a lot of underhanded dealings going on when it comes to war. This move by Israel should be regarded as a child disobeying the parent when the parent is busy. Why doesn't America do something? We can't just spoil the child

February 10, 2009 3:19 PM  

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