Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Israeli Air Force versus Palestinians

As I checked the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this morning, their home page had this photo.

And, with the baby picture, it is pretty stressful to look at, no matter which side you are on. Then, I read the caption.

The child in the picture was not killed. and the damage was not in Gaza as it first came to my mind. It was a picture of "a house in Kibbutz Sa'ad, in the western Negev, sustains serious damage after struck directly by a Gaza rocket on Wednesday" and there was no reports of casualties with the caption.

For a moment I felt upset. "With all the death (400 Palestinians so far), and destruction of defenseless people in Gaza, this is what Haaretz decided to put on their home page?", I asked myself. But I came to my senses quickly.

Haaretz is such a reasonable and balanced newspaper most of the time that one forgets it is an Israeli newspaper. They have the right, and the duty, to have feelings for their own citizens, even if the harm to their side was less catastrophic than the damage inflicted on the other side. And, as I repeatedly stressed in many previous posts, civilians are civilians, be them Muslims, Christians or Jews; Arabs or Israelis.

After this emotional lapse of mine, I carried on exploring the home page, and it was worth it. I came across an article that was too go to keep to myslef.

You can read many excerpts here, but please read the full article on Ha'aretz. And considering that writers like Gideon Levi are treated worse than criminals by the vast number of right wing fanatic and vocal readers, please consider leaving a comment for its author about how you feel after reading it.
"Our finest young men are attacking Gaza now. Good boys from good homes are doing bad things. Most of them are eloquent, impressive, self-confident, often even highly principled in their own eyes, and on Black Saturday dozens of them set out to bomb some of the targets in our "target bank" for the Gaza Strip.

They set out to bomb the graduation ceremony for young police officers who had found that rare Gaza commodity, a job, massacring them by the dozen.

They bombed a mosque, killing five sisters of the Balousha family, the youngest of whom was 4.

They bombed a police station, hitting a doctor nearby; she lies in a vegetative state in Shifa Hospital, which is bursting with wounded and dead."

In four days they killed 375 people. They did not, and could not, distinguish between a Hamas official and his children, between a traffic cop and a Qassam launch operator, between a weapons cache and a health clinic, between the first and second floors of a densely populated apartment building with dozens of children inside.
The cowardly nature of exercizing power over defenseless enemy does not escape him. And after reminding us of the hundreds of dead Palestinian victims of the most skilled pilots and their hightech toys he throws a powerful punch at them:
"Our excellent pilots are effectively bullies now. As in training flights, they bomb undisturbed, facing neither an air force nor defense system."
He goes further to link the horror Palestinians face in Gaza, with the horrors their parents faced since 1948 and what is spells for the future of . would you be able you read this without getting overwhelmed with emotions when he talks about the 'targets' of the pilots actions?
Do the pilots think about them, the children of refugees whose parents and grandparents have already been driven from their lives?
Do they think about the thousands of people they have left permanently disabled in a place without a single hospital worthy of the name and no rehabilitation centers at all?
Do they think about the burning hatred they are planting not only in Gaza but in other corners of the world amid the horrific images on television?
He goes on, few paragraphs later, to personifies the victims as he asks the pilots to come out of their shell and look at the kind of outcome their skills lead to:
Maybe if they were to confront the results of their "wonderful work" even once they would regret their decisions, they would reconsider the effects of their actions. If they were to go just once to Jerusalem's Alyn Hospital Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center, where for nearly three years Marya Aman, 7, has been hospitalized - she is a quadriplegic who runs her wheelchair, and her life, with her chin - they would be shocked. This adorable little girl was hit by a missile in Gaza that killed almost her entire family, the handiwork of our pilots.
And knowing what the usual execuses are, he tackles them head on.
They are only doing their job, as the saying goes, only following orders like bombing machines. In the past few days they have excelled at this, and the results are there for the entire world to see.
I, like many others, know that Gaza attack and many similar attacks before this one are mostly 'military training exercises using live munition, on live targets'.

Otherwise, why would a military superpower engage in a futile game of destruction, that will not solve Israel's problems, neither will it bring Israel's future existence to a more peaceful conclusion.

Along those lines, Gideon Levi reminds his readers by concluding:
Gaza is licking its wounds, just like Lebanon before it, and almost no one pauses for a moment to ask whether all this is necessary, or unavoidable, or whether it contributes to Israel's security and moral image.

Is it really the case that our pilots return safely to base, or are they in fact returning to them as callous, cruel and blind people?
If I liked this article so much, it is not surprising that he is receiving more hateful comments than any of us would tolerate.

But telling the truth is never popular: not in Israel, and not In the Arab world. And thinking beyond clannish nationalistic bounds is received with anger from the clan regardless of their religion, ethnicity of nationality.

Only the best of people are capable challenging their own in defense of truth.


The IAF, bullies of the clear blue skies - From Ha'aretz, by Gideon Levy

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