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'Mass murder' in Gaza

It is not often that you find yourself in agreement with the maverick Labour MP Gerald Kaufman. Today, however, I find myself supporting his remarks in the House of Commons during the brief debate yesterday on Israel’s war on Gaza.

He asked David Miliband, the foreign secretary “what the international reaction would be if Hamas had slaughtered nearly 900 Israelis and subjected nearly 1.5 million Israelis to degradation and deprivation?” 

Kaufman added, amid interruptions:

Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak [Israel’s prime minister, foreign and defence ministers] are mass-murderers and war criminals … And they bring shame on the Jewish people whose star of David they use as a flag in Gaza, but whose ethos and morals go completely against what this Israeli Government are doing.

The MP for Manchester, Gorton, is absolutely right. Slaughtering nearly a 1,000 people (to date), a third of them women and children, smashing hospitals and universities, shelling schools, deliberately killing non-combatants like police officers, using Gazans as human shields, deploying the banned phosphorous weapons – these are just some of the atrocities and war crimes that the Israeli government is guilty of. 

This is a carefully planned attempt to destroy Gaza. Indications are that the assault was planned as long as 18 months ago, coinciding with Hamas’s rise to power. A blockade was instituted, with the support of the European Union and the United States, to demoralise the population and try to turn them against Hamas. Shortly afterwards, the deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai, made his now infamous comment that, should the rocket fire continue, Gazans would face a "shoah" -  the Hebrew word for holocaust. 

The present offensive is designed to "send Gaza decades into the past," according to the head of the army command in Gaza, Yoav Galant. As to foreign minister Livni, tipped to be the next prime minster, she said yesterday that Israel was deliberately "going wild" in its use of military force in order to restore its deterrence capability. This is indeed the language of war criminals, who essentially view the Palestinians as Untermenschen, just as the Nazis did the Jews of Europe. 

Meanwhile, the UN's human rights body approved a resolution yesterday condemning the Israeli offensive for "massive violations of human rights" and indicated that it was compiling evidence of war crimes. Amnesty International says hitting residential streets with shells that send blast and shrapnel over a wide area constitutes "prima facie evidence of war crimes". 

None of this could happen without the tacit approval of the major powers, including Britain. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, has pointedly refused to condemn the bombing and shelling by Israel. Yesterday he trotted out the Israeli line once more, condemning Hamas, whose “motif is resistance” with methods that include terrorism. By contrast, he insisted, "Israel is meanwhile a thriving, democratic state”. 

Is this the same country that yesterday banned two Arab parties from contesting next month’s general election?  Arab members of the Central Elections Committee (CEC) walked out of the hall before the vote, shouting, "this is a fascist, racist state”. The vote to ban the parties was overwhelming, with one of the charges being that the parties were anti-Zionist.

Which brings us back to Kaufman. He is right to denounce the Israeli government’s claims to be acting and speaking for Jews in Israel and elsewhere. What gives them the right? The Zionists who rule the country have, in fact, by their actions usurped the voice of Jews throughout the world and used it to inflict horrors on the Palestinians for more than 60 years. The only right they have is to be put on trial for war crimes. 

Paul Feldman
AWTW communications editor
13 January 2009

Dylan says:

What is to be done about Gaza? I am bombarded with emails (thankfully) about the situation on both sides, but what can we do? One answer is heavy sanctions against Israel as they are so reliant upon trade - as Naomi Klein offers here? What does anyone think?

Robert says:

I get annoyed when people tell me Israel has a right, no they do not, people have a right to freedom and democracy and the right to free will, Gaza has none of this.

Anonymous says:

Unfortunately, you do not properly understand the reality.

Israel is a democratic country, with one of the best & most moral armies in the world.

It rightly cannot tolerate the indiscriminate targeting of hundreds of thousands of its citizens with long-range weapons of indescriminate destruction.

Thus- after much patience- Israel decided to try to put an end to this criminal-illegal-war-crime behaviour (of an illegal terrorist Hamas regime, who illegally overthrew the Fatah in Gaza).. by doing what..? Not by indescriminate killing.. Israel did not act as the Hamas terrorists- It does not bomb indescriminately.. It has been trying to attack those armed illegal-terrorist elements, trying with great effort to minimize civilian casualties. No other country has been so careful re civilian casualties- partly because Israel has higher moral ethics than others. Britain, for example, did not hesitate to flatten Dresden... and the examples are endless.

No- Israel seeks to defend justice & morality and protect its own citizens as is its duty. And Israel has no dispute with Gaza civilians who seek peace- but peace need be a situation where there is no use of missiles on hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians. No country can agree to allow a regime that not only does not recognise it & seeks to destroy it to continue to fire missiles at its civilians- ISRAEL HAS A DUTY TO STOP THIS ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. That a rather deranged self-hating (of Jewish extraction) Labour MP calls the Israeli leaders "mass murderers" is both factually incorrect & well as sick. He is a disgrace to the Jewish people & a disgrace to fair-minded English people. That you wish to adopt his views shows perhaps your wish to go on the anti-semitic bandwagon, but it really is naivity and ignorance. When I looked at the debate and the large number of ignorant & misinformed comments, I began to understand why the holocaust was possible & why many tame liberal people often been tools for evil. THE EVIL IS THE HAMAS REGIME- and it is for all enlightened peoples to make sure that their ideology & violence & inhumanity is stopped. Israel's war is actually your war too, in far-away England.. Don't twist or pervert morality.

Dave says:

Israel is an imposed state. To say it is a democratic country just shows the arrogance of ignorance. This term has been used before in many different contexts. I refer to it this time in relation to the annihilation of American Indians in the USA. Israel backed by support from the West will undoubtedly 'win' this land, stamping out any existing indigenous or other societies that are there. Along with it being a strategic site for a military stronghold Gaza also has large oil potential - so lets go conquer!

The Arab 'terrorists' referred to in reality are fragmenting societies trying to live with the day-to-day stress of continual oppression and bombardment. Defending your family and your human rights is not terrorism. American history documents 'The Indian Wars' wherever The Little Big Horn is mentioned. The Lakota Native Americans were defending their land and rights in 1876 - not waging war. I believe that events in 'Israel' are comparable with the plight of American Indians and the poverty and rejection they suffer on reservations today. The progression of Arab life and society is retarded by this oppression from Israel.

Dulwich Daisy says:

Gerald Kaufman MP is a long-standing supporter of the state of Israel, and the fact that he has made this dramatic intervention in parliament is a sign of a change in the overall understanding of what Israel is doing. It simply will not wash to say that any Jew who opposes the actions of the Zionist state is a self-hater and any other person who opposes them, an anti-semite.

The Israeli government provoked this situation to divert attention from its own deep internal crisis. And now It is guilty of war crimes, as are specific commanders of the IDF. Ordinary Israeli citizens must decide - td they support the use of napalm against civilians, and the deaths of hundreds of people including hundreds of children. Is the government and the IDF acting on their behalf? It is time for them to decide.

Pat says:

I would like to take the time to answer Anonymous. I am neither racist nor religious, but cannot fathom why in criticising Israel I am automatically classed as a Jew hater. As the supporter of mass murderers in Gaza I find it hard to fathom your ignorance, Hamas were elected to represent the Palestinians chosen by votes from the public, to stop the further stealing of land from the citizens and halt the march of immigrant Jews from Europe taking their ancestrial lands. In 1917 you were given permission from the British government to live in Palestine, not to take it over as part of Israel, since that time we have seen with our eyes what has happened and don't need information from biased citizens of Israel to tell us what the thruth is or isn't.

And do not dare reply to me calling me a jew hater that really gets my dander up. In speaking truth I become a racist. The number of Palestinians killed is far more than those killed in Israel, you cannot deny these figures they are fact. The lack of human rights for Palestinians mainly due Israeli government officials is appalling another aspect you and your kind government lie about. As for your friendly army, their IS no friendly army in the world they are trained to obey and kill. Your kind Eutopean Israeli government has been breaking every convention in the world and that is reality. Why then should it have its own nuclear weapons and no other Arab nation? What is so special that rules and regulations are broken daily? No other nation in the world is treated so favourably, yet you complain. Could it be that you are hiding the fact that there is an oil reserve on the coast of Palestine that you and the warlords of your nation want. Greed is the main factor for Palestine not Hamas. I do not want to look at news bulletins and see moralistic soldiers breaking the arms of children who threw stones to counter rubber bullets [ which also kill] Your holocaust figures are debatable escalating over the 50 years or so since it happened, but still does not give you the right to point the racist finger at anyone whilst perpetrating the same conditions on the Palestinians. I do not agree with what you have to say but Ill fight for your right to say it, but without accusations falsely lain at my doorstep.

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