Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Of blockades and blockheads

From ABC Unleashed, Jun 15, 2010, by Allon Lee, a policy analyst with the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council:

Why are supposed human rights activists so quick to attack Israel but never make a squeak against the anti-peace Hamas regime that persecutes women, Christians and homosexuals?

Why does the Gaza flotilla bloodshed automatically cancel out the moral and legal imperative of maintaining Israel and Egypt's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Strip?

These are the two questions that must be answered by those seeking to rollback the internationally sanctioned blockade of the Gaza Strip of materiel that can be used for military purposes. Fuel, medicines, gas, electricity and food have never stopped flowing into Gaza.

There is a reason why the blockade of Gaza exists. Namely, Gaza is under the rule of the extremist Hamas which refuses to accept a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The response was not a proto-state in the making but rockets and missiles being fired from Gaza onto Israel's southern cities on a daily basis, over 8,000 in all.

In July 2007, Hamas violently kicked out from Gaza its secular rival Fatah in an orgy of violence. The result was a literal division in the Palestinian nation.

The rejectionist Hamas rule with an iron fist the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, while 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank remain under the control of the more moderate Fatah which has accepted the two-state formula.

And despite the mealy-mouthed statements Fatah officials issue about the injustice of the Gaza blockade, their greatest fear is Israel lifting it and opening the way for Hamas to takeover the West Bank.

Noted Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh warned recently whilst visiting Australia, "It is Israel's presence in the West Bank that is keeping Abbas and the PLO in power, and preventing Hamas and Fatah from butchering each other. Two thousand Palestinians died in the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas." But that's an unmentionable truth.

The yawning chasm between rhetoric and reality that characterises Hamas apologists reflects the human capacity to hold two contradictory thoughts without being able to acknowledge the inconsistency. In psychology this is called "cognitive dissonance".

Take the recent Gaza flotilla incident.

There we see a so-called humanitarian and peace-loving aid ship manned by political agitators armed with metal pipes, slingshots, Molotov cocktails, stun grenades, fireworks, pistols and clubs.

Bloodshed ensues and yet the "peace-loving" Freedom Flotilla perpetrators responsible for starting the violence are considered the victim.

And as Hamas and its religious agenda of hate against secularism, individualism, feminism, Christians, Jews, gays, and even the wrong type of Muslim are swept under the carpet by apologists who call them "freedom fighters" and not "terrorists", sadly outside of Israel scant media coverage was accorded to the Hamas police raid on Palestinian NGOs just a few days after the flotilla tragedy.

Another counter-intuitive argument is that the blockade should end because there have been few rockets fired recently from Gaza into Israel.

It's the same muddle-headed thinking that says the efforts against Islamist terror should now stop because there have been no major successful terrorist attacks since 9/11. It stopped because of the mammoth effort expended in blood and treasure to reach that strategic objective.

Similarly, the rockets have largely stopped because Israel's war on Gaza in January 2009 has effectively deterred Hamas from firing them. Israel's military operation in Lebanon in 2006 had the same effect on Hezbollah terrorism.

Brutal? Yes, but not even in the same moral universe as Russia's wars against Chechnya resulting in reported estimates of up to 200,000 civilian deaths.

Let's assume that Israel and Egypt lift the blockade, what then? This is important because no critic of the blockade has considered what happens the day after.

First, there is no international law that obligates Israel to permit unrestricted entry or exit across its borders.

Which leaves the Palestinians transit to and from Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea or by air, and across its shared southern border with Egypt.

Egypt's role in the blockade is always an afterthought. No UN resolutions or enquiries stuffed with the good and the great ever demand Egypt tear down the great wall it is building across the 14km stretch of border it shares with Gaza. And if Palestinians manage to illegally cross into Egypt, they need to factor in that Egyptian soldiers have a shoot to kill directive.

Besides lifting the blockade, Israel is expected to parlay with Hamas on the basis that peace is made with one's enemies.

Once again, the emphasis is placed upon Israel, as though nothing is expected of Hamas, indeed nothing should be demanded from Hamas. Either because it is the "weaker" party or was democratically elected (as though that mandates Israel to negotiate with an outfit calling for its annihilation).

How does Israel talk to an opponent funded and armed by Iran and other radical states which repeatedly declares its longterm goal is Israel's destruction?

So the critics retort back that there are moderate forces in Hamas. Really, name them. Name one figure who has stood up and said "enough of the blood, enough of the conflict, we must make peace with Israel".

Israel would dearly love to end the blockade and see Gaza become a bastion of human rights, liberalism, and a prosperous Palestinian success story.

If a wise person can explain how to lift the blockade and prevent terror emanating from Gaza, then speak up now.

Sadly, anyone who dares call for peace in Gaza is usually not standing up for very long.

To me there is plenty of dissonance but not much evident cognition.
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