From The London Review of Books:
Eric Hobsbawm’s most recent book is Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism.
For three weeks barbarism has been on show before a universal public, which has watched, judged and with few exceptions rejected Israel’s use of armed terror against the one and a half million inhabitants blockaded since 2006 in the Gaza Strip. Never have the official justifications for invasion been more patently refuted by the combination of camera and arithmetic; or the newspeak of ‘military targets’ by the images of bloodstained children and burning schools. Thirteen dead on one side, 1360 on the other: it isn’t hard to work out which side is the victim. There is not much more to be said about Israel’s appalling operation in Gaza.
Except for those of us who are Jews. In a long and insecure history as a people in diaspora, our natural reaction to public events has inevitably included the question: ‘Is it good or bad for the Jews?’ In this instance the answer is unequivocally: ‘Bad for the Jews’.
Rashid Khalidi is Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia.
It is commonplace to talk about the ‘fog of war’, but war can also clarify things. The war in Gaza has pointed up the Israeli security establishment’s belief in force as a means of imposing ‘solutions’ which result in massive Arab civilian suffering and solve nothing. It has also laid bare the feebleness of the Arab states, and their inability to protect Palestinian civilians from the Israeli military, to the despair and fury of their citizens. Almost from the moment the war began, America’s Arab allies – above all Egypt – found themselves on the defensive, facing accusations of impotence and even treason in some of the largest demonstrations the region has seen in years. Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hizbullah in Lebanon, reserved some of his harshest criticism for the Mubarak regime; at Hizbullah rallies, protesters chanted ‘Where are you, Nasser?’ – a question that is also being asked by Egyptians.
Yitzhak Laor lives in Tel Aviv. He is the editor of Mita’am.
We’ve been here before. It’s a ritual. Every two or three years, our military mounts another bloody expedition. The enemy is always smaller, weaker; our military is always larger, technologically more sophisticated, prepared for full-scale war against a full-scale army. But Iran is too scary, and even the relatively small Hizbullah gave us a hard time. That leaves the Palestinians.
Israel is engaged in a long war of annihilation against Palestinian society. The objective is to destroy the Palestinian nation and drive it back into pre-modern groupings based on the tribe, the clan and the enclave. This is the last phase of the Zionist colonial mission, culminating in inaccessible townships, camps, villages, districts, all of them to be walled or fenced off, and patrolled by a powerful army which, in the absence of a proper military objective, is really an over-equipped police force, with F16s, Apaches, tanks, artillery, commando units and hi-tech surveillance at its disposal.
The extent of the cruelty, the lack of shame and the refusal of self-restraint are striking, both in anthropological terms and historically. The worldwide Jewish support for this vandal offensive makes one wonder if this isn’t the moment Zionism is taking over the Jewish people.