Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Purpose of Gaza

Some 400 children now dead in the Gaza...what? What is the word for a full-scale, modern military assault with jets and tanks against a civilian population that is imprisoned inside a wall guarded by the attacking army? "Turkey shoot" is the only phrase that comes to mind, but that seems so horrifyingly lacking in respect and sympathy for the children - not just the 400 Israel has killed but the rest. How many of the rest, by the way, will grow up psychologically warped; how many will see no future but that of revenge?

Many are wondering what the purpose of this carnage might be. Some have suggested that Israeli leaders are lost. Perhaps they all just suddenly, simultaneously got totally confused...but I don't buy it.

Another popular suggestion, at least at the beginning, was that Israeli leaders were determined to demonstrate their toughness. Guess they accomplished that, alright. The world now knows that if Israel has its way, it will construct a wall around you, starve you, then throw all of its full military fury - even reservists - against you, bombing you in your schools, hospitals, markets, and homes. And they will keep it up week after week until...what? Until we are impressed?

Surely, Ahmadinejad is now impressed...well, perhaps not. He is not in an Israeli prison, so I guess the message really does not apply to him. Let's see. It has taken Israel two weeks so far to teach its lesson to Gaza, which is a tiny slice of desert on Israel's border and has been totally dependent on Israel for two generations. Exactly how is this supposed to impress the Iranians?

Well, maybe I missed the point. Maybe it is to teach Lebanese Hezbollah a lesson. At least they are on one of Israel's borders. Oh, yes, they already had their lesson...in 2006...2001...1996...1982. But no, Israel has never built a wall around Lebanon either, so that's also a bad analogy.

So...perhaps Israel is trying to teach Fatah a lesson. Now there's a parallel! The West Bank...you know...the other Palestinian concentration camp. Yes, that is the phrase: the population is walled in, refused permission to live normal lives but also denied the right to leave. It's like a boss who refuses to allow an independent-minded employee to find another job but refuses to let the employee have a decent career staying where he is either. Power corrupts. People with power exercise it for the pleasure of exercising it. The point is simply to get away with it.

Israel has the power so Israel uses it...with no thought to the future. That's the core. There's more to it in reality, of course. Different factions have different goals, and any decision-maker is good at dreaming up additional justifications for whatever course of action he or she has already decided on. Some of these will be discussed in this blog in coming days. But the core of it seems to be that Israel embarked on this most voluntary of all wars of choice because at this moment it could. It had all sorts of options but chose the most extreme. Now we shall see how many of the unchosen options have, but the choice of the most extreme, been taken away from Israel. We shall see to what degree Israel's shock and awe may leave Israel weaker and more constrained and more isolated.

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