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So let’s say I have a man chained up in my basement. Had him there for many months. Then, one day I come down to the basement to give him his daily gruel ration, and out of nowhere, he comes at me with a broken bottle. Do I have a right to defend myself?
Of course I do, I’m a human being, and I always have a right to defend myself.
But, at the same time, I shouldn’t be fucking imprisoning people against their will in my basement dungeon.
I’ve seen a lot written already about Israel’s invasion of Gaza, nearly all of it from the pro-Israeli point of view. Many supporters are immediately aggressive, declaring Israel’s “right to defend itself”, and demanding that you put yourself in the shoes of an Israeli who is being attacked by Hamas rockets. What’s astounding is that those same people seem utterly incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of a Palestinian who’s lived his whole life under Israeli occupation, has spent the year starving under Israeli’s harsh economic sanctions, and is currently cowering from Israeli bombs. This isn’t even about right and wrong, or picking sides; if you want to actually understand the situation, you should strive to see it from all points of view.
And that’s where my previous not-particularly-good analogy comes up. Most news reports I’ve seen about the Israeli invasion would skip the whole “man keeping other man chained and imprisoned” part of my story and jump straight to the “disheveled maniac surprises and attacks homeowner” part. Which I think you’d agree, leaves out a bit of relevant background.
Of course, Hamas and other Palestinian militants are not white knights, and Israel is not the bogeyman. There’s enough blood between them to give everyone’s hands a good coat. And in everyone’s defense, the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want a peacefully-negotiated two-state solution to their long years of strife. But in the end, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is clearly, clearly wrong to anyone who cares to look into it. For years, people have been calling Gaza “the world’s largest outdoor prison”. Columnist Eric Margolis now calls the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel “a prison riot, writ large”. No, it’s not “right” to shoot at innocent civilians. But what would you do? If you were the man in my basement, what would you be willing to do to get free?
I also have to point out some of the cynical politics going on here. I believe that Israel launched this attack now because they felt that they had to do so before their supporter George W. Bush left office (although I have yet to see any evidence that Barack Obama will be anything less of a backer than American leaders past). I also believe that part of the timing of this attack is due to upcoming elections within Israel; the current leadership wants to look strong to the voters, and wash the taste of their horriffic and humiliating 2006 war with Hezbollah from everyone’s palates.
And finally, I have to point out that the US blocked a UN resolution calling for a cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians during this new war. And the US gives about $3 billion a year to Israel. And Israel uses large chunks of that money to buy weapons from the US. Which it then uses to continue the occupation of Palestine.
Why do they hate us again?