Along with the rest of the world, I have been watching the fighting in Gaza and the steady stream of information from all points of view. Everyday brings more bombs, more death, more misery, more horrors, and more hatred. Here is the situation as best I can surmise it. I am a person who craves nothing but peace. I hate war. I hate violence. Any violence is bad. I protested the Vietnam War in my youth, and I have protested every war every where ever since.
From the Gazan point of view:
I have just listened to this journalist who is living in Gaza. He is describing a hellish scene where he could be killed at any moment fron a shell hitting his house and killing his family. He could be killed if he goes outside to search for water. And he could die of thirst and malnutrition. The bombing is going on nonstop, and no one knows who's the next target.
I have friends who have family in Gaza. They've stopped communicating with me because they are so concerned about their family members in Gaza that they have gotten together to hold prayer vigils and to share in each one's pain. Some of them have left work because of the fighting in Gaza. I guess it's hard to concentrate on work when your cousin could be killed at any moment.
Before they went to their prayer vigil, they told me what happened to their sister-in-law and her family. They talk about the horrors of walking over dead bodies, often bodies of people they knew well. They said that the Israelis told them to stay in their houses or they'd be shot at. The whole neighborhood complied, you don''t disobey the guy with a gun pointing at your head. That same night, the Israelis blew up the house next door and killed the entire family told to wait inside. 25 people died. These were all next door neighbors who had known each other for decades.
Other articles and vids on the internet show the signs of battle everywhere. The signs of death, overrun hospitals, people left outside to die because they were too far gone to save them. Pictures of destroyed buildings, destroyed cars, destroyed highways and destroyed lives are everywhere.
From the humanitarian agencies' point of view
United Nations buildings have been hit several times, killing dozens of people seeking refuge. Schools have been hit, universities destroyed and even mosques have been attacked. There is no place in Gaza right now that is safe from the Israeli attack. For the women and children, there is no hope to find shelter away from the constant bombardment.
The group Free Gaza has tried to deliver much needed medicinal supplies to the Gazans. On their first attempt, the Israeli navy smashed their boat and they were forced to go to Lebanon or else sink with everyone on board dying. The next attempt was even worse. The Israeli Navy promised to kill everyone aboard if they continued on. The captain could not put his passengers in danger, even though it would have been an extraordinary PR coup against the Israelis had he forced their hand. To have killed so many officials from the EU on a strictly humanitarian mission would have sent shock waves throughout Europe that Israel is willing to kill anyone, regardless of their position.
Nearly every humanitarian agency has left. A week ago, the foreigners who were there with these agencies to help the people in Gaza left en masse. They all complained that it was far too dangerous for them to stay there and they risked death if they stayed one more day.
From the Israeli point of view:
I have read many posts here and elsewhere about their viewpoint on the whole thing. I think the most telling posts are the ones found on this website. I would expect a wide range of feelings by combing the entire net, but I never expected the posts I've read here to be so blatant. With almost complete unanimity, the Israelis who write here blame Hamas. To them, all of this is due to Hamas. The whole disaster unfolding over these past few weeks are the fault of Hamas. If Hamas hadn't shelled them with rockets, none of this would be happening today.
From a website that claims to be all about peace, I find it rather shocking that those who post here would be so adamant about their views. I have read pages of prose eloquently describing the horrors of air raid sirens on almost a daily basis. The fear of shells falling from the sky has so many people on pins and needles that to live a normal life is almost impossible. Every time the sirens go off, shaking and quivering Israelis run to their predetermined shelters and hide in abject fear of the attack until the all clear is sounded. These posters here clamor for violence, they seek violence, and they want violence to stop Hamas. I don't see any cries for peace, for harmony, for union, only more and more fist-pounding about this violence being started by Hamas and will be ended by Israel The thought of nonviolent resistance is as foreign to these people as war was to Gandhi. What's even worse, I'm being solicited to view ONLY those blogs here that advocate violence against Hamas. When I receive an email requesting me to read another blog about the situation there, I already know in advance that it will be anti Hamas, anti peace,. anti harmony, anti Palestinian, and pro violence.
These posters write long about how the Israeli forces are now obligated to take this stand. Living under the threat of more rockets is just unacceptable. The time has come to stop the rocket launching once and for all and since the Gazans aren't going to do it, and the humanitarian agencies are incapable of doing it, the Israelis are forced, once again, into the role of "bad cop" in order to bring peace to the region. It's a role they despise, but feel compelled nevertheless to perform for the sake of the others living there. The rockets must stop and they must stop now.
From an American news media point of view:
The US media echoes the Israeli point of view 100%. In fact, if anything it goes even farther. These Palestinians animals are nothing but terrorists in waiting and the sooner Israel takes care of the problem, the sooner peace will be had for everyone in the region. Only Hamas is to blame. Israel has been playing Mr. Nice Guy long enough and their patience has run out. Hamas should have known this day was coming and it's the Gazans own fault if they didn't see it as well. The US stands so much behind Israel and Olmert, that he boasted the other day that he made President Bush, supposedly the "leader" of the free world, stop his speech IN THE MIDDLE OF SPEAKING to take Olmert's call. Olmert DEMANDED that Secretary of State Rice CHANGE HER VOTE on a resolution SHE HELPED CREATE so that she wouldn't vote in favor. In front of the entire world, Secretary of State Rice abstained from voting for a resolution she herself worked on creating.
In other words, according to Olmert, Israel can now call the US President and make him stop whatever he's doing, in order to demand that the Secretary of State humiliate herself in front of the whole world. I can only imagine what the other diplomats around the world must be thinking about that. And the fact that Olmert feels no shame sharing his acts with the world is yet another sign that Israel has free rein to say and do what they want, and the US must obey. If not, Olmert will call him and chew him out.
I have, once again, reread the paragraphs above. I have reread what I have heard about those living in Gaza, those wanting to help, and those living in Israel. Quite frankly, it amazes me that so few people see a difference. It amazes me that anyone could possible equate the various points of view above and arrive at the conclusion that all of this is only due to Hamas.
From the eyes of an American
Let me offer the thoughts of one who lives on the other side of the world. Let me share what I have seen coming through my bits and bytes monitor, streaming on video from many sources, and projecting through TV and radio. I protested Vietnam as a youth. I protested all wars. I have never been in favor of any war, anywhere, for any reason. My heroes are Gandhi, Martin Luther King jr., and all those who have spent their entire lives advocating peace above all else. I see no justification for violence and that is something I will always feel despite the teachings in the Bible, the Torah or the Quran. Even the Bagavad Gita is set in a war setting of which I oppose. For anyone to justify violence is to justify evil and destruction. I will never justify a violent act, sorry.
I have watched the scenes unfold in the Near East for most of my 53 years. I have seen the wars, the carnage, the destruction, the promises of revenge, retaliation and doom. When the Arabs announce such things, I oppose them. When the Israelis announce such things I oppose them. When my own country announces such things, I oppose them. I am a dedicated peacenik. Always have been, always will be. Violence is wrong, period. To promote or sanctify violence is wrong, period. To participate in violence or condone it in any way, shape or form is wrong, PERIOD. VIOLENCE IS WRONG, PERIOD.
In all these years, I've seen refugees grow, their suffering grow, and violence simmer and boil over from time to time. I have seen the hundreds of billions of my tax dollars go to Israel in order to prop up its economy and build its military forces into the fourth best equipped in the world with over 200 nuclear bombs at its disposal. This has been rather consistent over the years. Israel's economy grows and grows, its military gets stronger and stronger, and the refugees fall further and further into poverty and suffering.
It's gotten to a point where Israelis write long blogs about their horrible suffering while enjoying the latest imported wines from Europe, the best cars from around the world, beautiful office jobs with air conditioning and fabulous malls where they can choose from Gucci, Estee Lauder, Yves St. Laurent, or other "chic" chic designers. They claim that air raid sirens hurt their ears and frighten them and occasionally, and some have actually died from them. These Israelis post here lamenting their horrible lifestyle and suffering all because of Hamas. And by golly, they are going to stop those rockets once and for all!!!
But are they really???????????????????????????????
Those who believe this slaughter is all about Hamas, rocket launching, and the end of all rockets in Gaza, please answer the following questions:
How many rockets has Israel captured??? (I'll give you a hint, none)
How many rocket-launching terrorists has Israel caught?? (I'll give you a hint, none)
How many rocket launching sites has Israel destroyed?? (I'll give you a hint, none)
How many Palestinians has Israel killed??? OVER 1,000
And you say this is about rockets?????
Whoever owns those rockets knows EXACTLY how many they have, so does Israel. They know exactly how many people are available to fire them, and so does Israel. They know exactly where their launch sites are, and so does Israel.
How am I so sure??
Israel has the fourth best equipped military in the world. Their hundreds of drone planes and satellite GPS systems can spot a person sneezing anywhere in Gaza. They have shown this when they say they saw a "suspected terrorist" run into a UN sanctuary and felt compelled to kill a couple of dozen innocent people. If they can spot a terrorist running inside a UN building, either the terrorist was running in slow motion waving big signs proclaiming, "Here I am... neneer neneer, I'm a terrorist and you can't stop me," for five to ten minutes while scouting parties finally found him, or he ran in there in less than two seconds and the satellite GPS system saw him, marked his identity, and sent the info to ground troops in seconds. You can't have it both ways.
Israel has every single square inch of Gaza marked, classified, notated, zoned, and filed. It knows what is happening every second of every day and has had this ability for years. Those "mysterious" rocket launchers who seem to be able to elude their dragnet (not like the running terrorist into the UN who was spotted in two seconds) have been given the green light to fire on Israelis. For anyone to fire a rocket, you must, a) go to a predetermined site, b) set up the rocket and launcher, c) aim the rocket in the right direction, and c) fire the rocket. then they must run for cover because the satellites will all have the exact launching location on planet Earth. If anyone can do that in less time than it takes a terrorist to run inside of a UN sanctuary, let me know.
I am saddened that the Palestinians have been suffering for sixty years. I am saddened that they were driven from their homes, driven from their homes again, and are now being shelled in them. I am saddened that a noble gesture, perhaps not exactly thought out too well, of granting a homeland to the Jews, has been turned into a living hell for so many people. I am saddened that websites like this one, affirm their desire for peace everywhere, then send me notifications of "must read" blogs where someone sitting in their favorite ethan allen ergonomic office chair, sitting atop their plush, shag carpet, sipping their favorite imported wine after just returning from a Gucci shop where they bought the latest $5,000 watch (because the neighbors have one, and I can't be seen without something like theirs), waxes long about how much these subhumans from Gaza are ruining their life.
Like I say, I'm for peace. If these people feel that they can claim to be for peace while cheering for the killing of others and the destruction of an entire people, I feel sorry for them. They are as violent as the soldier on the front lines deciding whether a three-year old baby has taken its last breath or not. Hamas is not to blame, even though I don't condone their violent actions in the least. It is obvious that Israel knows EXACTLY where Hamas is and where their rocket launchers are. It is equally obvious that hypocrisy about the region is as alive as ever, even on supposed peace websites.