Tag Archives: peace in gaza

Interview: On Contact with Chris Hedges: The BDS Movement

 

Miko discusses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement with Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chris Hedges. They discuss the global campaign to economically and politically pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, grant equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens and allow Palestinian refuges the right of return to their homes.

To learn more about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) visit: https://bdsmovement.net/


Shocking But Not Surprising. By Miko Peled

Is it possible to be shocked and yet not be surprised? Israel’s stupidity and disregard for human life is nothing new. It is a recurring theme in the life of the Jewish state from its very inception. Surely as the destruction in Gaza remains untouched18 months after the murderous attacks that began on December 27, 2008 there can be no surprise at Israeli brutality. Yet as the news unfolded and the images of the Israeli assault on the flotilla to Gaza began to unravel a sense of shock was expressed everywhere.

Israel too is shock stricken. Not by the sheer brutality of its forces, or by the injustice of the siege on Gaza but by the PR blunder and fact that this “military mission” was a failure. Once again Israeli commandos are shown to be weak and helpless. How could the decision makers not see that this would damage Israel’s image in the eyes of world and even worse, in the eyes of Israel’s enemies?

Israeli foreign ministry officials claim that Europe and the rest of the world have increased their diplomatic assault on Israel. They claim the world is emboldened by the fact that the American stand in support of Israel has weakened. This they will say is the fault of President Obama, a President Israelis never cared for anyway. The notion that the world is coming to a point where it is unable to bear the racism and brutality of Israel as a state never enters the conversation. Israeli talking heads will not apologize, will not stray from the official line: We, Israelis are right and they, everyone else are wrong; We are good and they are evil; we are victims of age old anti Semitism and they are hateful, violent Muslims intending to kill innocent Jews.

Lives were lost due to a cowardly reaction of trained assassins who were sent to a mission for which they were clearly unprepared, so in a way one can claim that the killers themselves are not to blame, those who sent them are. In the murky relations between the military and the civilian government in Israel it is quite common to fault the lowest person on the totem poll and more often than not it is the military. In this case the mission was an act of piracy aimed at a very determined group of activists who had no intention of backing down. The fact that this particular group of activists took on this difficult and dangerous mission should have in itself been a warning to the Israeli officials that they would not back down and would put up a fight.

There can be no argument as to the courage displayed by the activists aboard the ships as armed pirates with an overwhelming military power attacked them. The pirates, trained Israeli commandos who are known for their brutality and total lack of regard for human life were armed to the teeth and had the support of the Israeli navy, air force and ground forces. Yet as they boarded the ships they were met with a justifiably angry and clearly determined crowd who were not willing to let go of their boats and cargo. Tragically some of them paid for this determination with their lives.

Will this tragedy bring any change? Clearly the only thing that can bring change is a strategic decision by President Obama to divorce the United States from the dysfunctional relationship with Israel. When the President decides that it is time to end the Israeli war on Palestinians he will engage in a head on collision with Israel and its American bully, AIPAC. It is no secret that advisers whose Zionist prejudice surround the President and naturally one is forced to wonder if a strategic shift of such magnitude is possible. Still, if one judges by the fear expressed in Israel perhaps there is some change, some outrage among the Presidents men.

One is reminded of a country long forgotten, by the name of South Vietnam, a country reduced to no more than a paragraph in the history books. Once it was a major American ally in the fight against communism, a country to whom the US promised never ending support. But one day in 1975 as North Vietnamese forces began to overrun the country, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu requested aid from U.S. President Gerald Ford. The U.S. Senate would not release extra money to provide aid to South Vietnam and in fact the Senate had already passed laws to prevent further involvement in Vietnam altogether.

It was only a few years earlier that my father, Matti Peled, then a retired Israeli Army General visited South Vietnam at the request of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv. He spent a month in South Vietnam and sent reports that Ma’ariv published. My father, who was an armament and logistics expert, reported that US support for South Vietnam was coming to an end. There was nothing in the rhetoric off US officials to support this, but in speaking to South Vietnamese generals he learned that the South Vietnamese army was running out of spare parts and that the US was no longer replacing them.

The moral of this story is that when Americans get tired of something they are not shy about it. It is not unlikely that when Americans get tired of paying $10 million per day of their hard earned money to the state of Israel that the President will act. The question is how many innocent Palestinian lives will be lost until that day arrives.


Hope in Gaza

Israel’s assault on the people of Gaza is so horrendous that it will not soon be forgotten. This vicious attempt by Israel to destroy an entire nation has tipped the scales for good and Zionism will forever be remembered as a blemish in the history of the Jewish people. The people of Gaza, however, give us hope and they will forever be remembered for their courage and resilience during these trying times.

The people of Gaza, while being deprived of rights and resources, still find the inner strength and the belief in their destiny to send their children to school. There are close to 800,000 children living in Gaza; they make up more than half of the population. The mothers and fathers and teachers of Gaza are creating hope where others see none, and they are building a future where some would claim there is none. But the price of education in Gaza is dear as the number of children targeted by Israeli violence rises continuously.

In a previous article (“It’s time to visit Gaza“) I quoted from journalist Charles Glass’ The Tribes Triumphant and I wish to do so again here. Glass, unlike CNN or any other news agency is not obsessed with violence but is impressed as we all should be by the children: “Thousands and thousands of children’s feet padding the dusty paths between their mother’s front doors and their schools … Beautiful youngsters so innocent that they could laugh even in Gaza.” One can only imagine the mothers preparing lunches for these children, and making sure their clothes are ready and clean as they send them off to school. But the road to school in Gaza is an uncertain one, and risk of death by Israeli death squads is imminent.

I was deeply moved by Ramzy Baroud’s recent piece about his late father (“There are no checkpoints in heaven“). Clearly the man was head and shoulders above most people and clearly he recognized the need to defy the occupation and maintain his dignity as a man and as a Palestinian. He paid dearly for this, because there is nothing more threatening to Israel’s occupation than a man who would defy its brutal force.

Ramzy’s story is similar to that of another friend of mine who is also from Gaza and who was also prevented from visiting his dying father. This gentleman is a physician and is devoted to saving the lives of children. He is an inspiring man of deep religious conviction and optimism. When I visit Gaza, as I am determined to do before this year is out, I hope that they will be able to join me. In fact, I hope to be able to go with a delegation.

For over 60 years Gaza has proven itself to be an endless source of optimism and courage. Even with a population density that is among the highest in the world, and a lack of resources that seems hopeless, and even with a brutal occupation and severe restrictions that have been part of life for Gazans since the destruction of Palestine some 60 years ago, still Gazans fight on. Resistance to the occupation, education and steadfastness are only a few of the hallmarks of the people of this ancient land.

I recall the first time I heard first-hand about the type of torture that is the daily bread of people in Gaza. It was more than 20 years ago, while I was living in Japan as a student, a young Israeli who I mistook for a friend shared the following story from his days of service as an officer in Israel’s “glorious” naval special-forces, or as Israelis call it, “The Commando.” He told us how, as a matter of routine he and his unit would patrol the Gaza coast aboard their naval warships. As they came upon a Gazan fishing boat they would stop the boat and force the fishermen to jump into the water. Then, they would blow up the boat. Once the boat was blown to bits, the Israeli sailors would shift their attention to the helpless fishermen in the water. Under gunpoint, one by one, they would force the fishermen count from one to a hundred. One by one these men, who eventually could no longer hold themselves above water, drowned to death. This, the young Israeli officer said, was done “to instill fear in the Arabs, and to teach them who was boss.”

This young Israeli officer was one of Israel’s “finest,” the product of the finest Zionist education system. He saw no wrong in letting men drown in front of his eyes, and felt no urge to save a helpless human being from certain death. But he is not alone in his disregard for human life.

The Israel newspaper Haaretz’s online edition recently published that “[Israeli] Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday defended the Israel Defense Forces’ operations against Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip as necessary for the advancement of peace negotiations.” According to Haaretz, Livni said: “I would expect that when civilians are harmed by deliberate terrorism, people won’t make a comparison between them and Palestinian civilians that are harmed during Israel’s defense operations.” Furthermore, according to Haaretz: “Livni expressed concern at what she termed a growing trend of de-legitimization of Israel in world public opinion. Livni does not see the connection between Israeli actions and the reaction of the world community.”

Livni is no different than the young officer who murdered Gazan fishermen. She and other members of the Israeli cabinet along with the military top brass see no problem with Israeli forces killing Palestinian children, and they seek and often receive the support of the world community. In their minds, Palestinians do not deserve the same rights as Israeli Jews, and therefore it is permissible to torture them and murder their children. What is not permissible is to criticize Israel for the killing innocent Palestinians. Livni and her comrades are disturbed that the rest of us do not see this as clearly as they do.

But rather than give attention to the lies and accusations of Zionist militants, we would do well to focus our attention to the people of Gaza and in particular to the children who are forced to live in this concentration camp. These children and their brave and caring parents represent hope in its truest form. They need courageous people who, like Ramzy Baroud’s late father, are willing to defy the brutal Zionist regime but who unlike him are free of the restraints of that regime. People who live in Israel and the US need to stand by the people of Gaza and help them to tear down the walls of this ghetto.