Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This time Israel went too far: "Operation Cast Lead" as a genocidal campaign

A review of “This Time We Went Too Far: Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion”, by Norman Finkelstein, Or Books, Kindle edition, 2011. Hardcover published by Or Books, 2010.

Contents: Foreword, 1/Self-Defense, 2/Their Fear, and Ours, 3/Whitewash, 4/Of Human Shields and Hasbara, 5/Inside Gaza, 6/Ever Fewer Hosannas, Epilogue, Appendix and Notes.

“It’s not that you are to carry out a massacre, but ……” — Israeli commander on the eve of the Gaza invasion (quote located just before the Foreword).

The name given to the attack by the IDF, “Operation Cast Lead,” says it all. When an army casts lead indiscriminately at a population, the underlying purpose is shock and awe, and the result is massacre. No amount of self-justifying verbiage – and there has been plenty of that – can minimize it. From the testimony provided by eyewitnesses and IDF combat soldiers, a massacre is exactly what happened. Followed by a blizzard of justifications, denial, obfuscation and outright lies, all of which Professor Finkelstein carefully documents. Amnesty International called the attack “22 days of death and destruction.” The Israeli government called it justified.

But this time they went too far. Operation Cast Lead was so far over the top and so overwhelming and indiscriminate (they even attacked UN installations) that they caused a tsunami of negative reaction from around the world. Their response? To build a political firewall of propaganda around themselves that had and has a very focused purpose: to seek out, delegitimize and destroy Israel’s critics using every means possible, including character assassination, misinformation, intimidation and destruction of their resources and their organizations. This plan is outlined in detail in a report by Israel’s Reut Institute published in February 2010 following a tsunami of negative response to the Gaza war. The report, which I have read and own a copy of, can be obtained, in PDF format, from http://reut-institute.org/data/uploads/PDFVer/20100310%20Delegitimacy%20Eng.pdf  It is well worth a careful read. An article by Ali Abunimah in the February 16, 2010 edition of The Electronic Intifada calls it “Israel’s new strategy: ‘sabotage’ and ‘attack’ the global justice movement.”

Israel made it even more difficult for itself when, several weeks later it attacked the Mavi Marmara, one of the boats in a peace flotilla headed for Gaza, killing a number of the people on board. Again, the Israeli government justified it and launched a massive propaganda campaign of justification. But even the Reut Institute said they had gone too far.

Israel is very good at being its own worst enemy. Instead of trying to partner with Palestine’s indigenous Arab population and build a nation together, they set about vigorously uprooting and attacking them, a process that continues in both Gaza, the West Bank and within Israel itself. “Under the guise of what is called the ‘peace process’,” Professor Finkelstein writes, “Israel has effectively annexed wide swaths of the West Bank and shredded the social fabric of life there and in the Gaza Strip.” All, of course, justified whilst thumbing its collective nose at world opinion and the UN. Again, all carefully documented by Professor Finkelstein and others … and justified and denied by the Israeli government.

Israel justifies its behavior on the grounds of “security”, but the question that arises in reading this and other books on the subject raises this significant question: Would Israel have any security problems had they treated Palestine’s indigenous population as respected partners? Would they have any security problems today if they treated Palestinians with respect instead of contempt? I very much doubt it.

“This Time We Went Too Far” is a book that I recommend and have as part of my library. It is not, however, at all popular with those for whom Israel can do no wrong. Read it with an open mind. I give it 4 stars.

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