The True Story Behind This War is Not the One Israel is Telling
The True Story Behind This War is Not the One Israel is Telling By Johann Hari

The world isn't just watching the Israeli government commit a crime in Gaza; we are watching it self-harm. This morning, and tomorrow morning, and every morning until this punishment-beating ends, the young people of the Gaza Strip are going to be more filled with hate, and more determined to fight back, with stones or suicide-vests or rockets. Israel's leaders have convinced themselves the harder you beat the Palestinians, the softer they will become. But when this is over, the rage against Israelis will have hardened, and the same old compromises will still be waiting by the roadside of history, untended and unmade. To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia.

The Gaza Strip is smaller than the Isle of Wight, but it is crammed with 1.5 million people who can never leave. They live out their lives on top of each other in vast sagging tower blocks, jobless and hungry. From the top floor, you can often see the borders of their world: the Mediterranean Sea, and the Israeli barbed wire. When bombs begin to fall - as are do now with more deadly force than on any day since 1967 - there is nowhere to hide. There will now be a war over the story of this war. The Israeli government says: we withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and in return we got Hamas and Qassam rockets being rained on our cities. Some 16 civilians have been murdered. How many more are we supposed to sacrifice? It is a plausible narrative, and there are shards of truth in it - but it is also filled with holes. If we want to understand the reality and really stop the rockets, we need to rewind a few years, and view the runway to this war dispassionately.

The Israeli government did indeed withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005 - in order to be able to intensify control of the West Bank. Ariel Sharon's senior advisor Dov Weisglass was unequivocal about this, explaining: "The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians... Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely." Ordinary Palestinians were horrified by this, and by the fetid corruption of their own Fatah leaders - so they voted for Hamas. It certainly wouldn't have been my choice - an Islamist party is antithetical to all my convictions - but we have to be honest. It was a free and democratic election, and it was not a rejection of a two-state solution. The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 percent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 percent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine. So, partly in response to this pressure, Hamas offered Israel a long ceasefire and a de facto acceptance of two states, if only Israel would return to its legal borders.

Rather than seize this opportunity and test their sincerity, the Israeli government reacted by punishing the entire civilian population. They announced they were blockading the Gaza Strip in order to "pressure" its people to reverse the democratic process. They surrounded the Strip and refused to let anyone or anything out. They let in a small trickle of food, fuel and medicine - but not enough for survival. Weisglass quipped the Gazans were being "put on a diet." According to Oxfam, this November only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza this November - to feed 1.5 million people.

The UN says poverty has reached an "unprecedented level." When I was last in besieged Gaza, I saw hospitals turning away the sick because their machinery and medicine was running out. I met hungry children stumbling around the streets, scavenging for food. It was in this context - under collective punishment designed to topple a democracy - that some forces within Gaza did something immoral: they fired Qassam rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities. These rockets have killed 16 ordinary Israeli citizens. This is abhorrent: targeting civilians is always murder. But it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to claim now to speak out for the safety of civilians when they have been terrorising civilians as a matter of state policy.

European and American governments are responding with a lop-sidedness that ignores these realities. They say that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate under rocket-fire, but they demand the Palestinians do so under siege in Gaza and violent military occupation in the West Bank. Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don't take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security services Shin Bet, "told the Israeli cabinet [on the 23rd] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms."

Diskin explained Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet - high with election-fever, and eager to appear tough - rejected these terms. The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas - like much of the Israeli right - dreams of driving their opponents away, "they have recognized this ideological goal is not attainable, and will not be in the foreseeable future." Instead, "they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967." They are aware this means they "will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals" - and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.

The rejectionists on both sides - from Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh to Bibi Netanyahu - would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace - but it is the Israeli government who refused to choose it. Halevy explains: "Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas." Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means they can keep the slabs of the West Bank on 'their' side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements, and control of the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today - and compromise with them.

The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: "Israel's war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth.... If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas' court - it's in ours."

Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent newspaper.

Views: 3954

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

it is sooooo silent here ... like in the mainstream medias and in the western countries ... is this silence the silence of ignorance or of cowardness or is it the silence of guilt?!
What do you think of the differnt tactic, instead of Blame Israel or Hamas, we can ask for World protection of the Gazans as they do not have reasonable state support.

calling for safe-haven for Gazans

I think that it is so quite since some of the "pro-palestinians" think that being pro-palestinian is equivalent for being anti-Israeli and the "facts" they bring from a one-sided world-view will change reality. we need a different path for change. This is a humanistic duty to work and protect people of Gaza at this time, no matter what side of the fence you are.
sorry, but I cannot be indifferent with WAR CRIMES ... really sorry ... and I am sorry there is no save-haven for Gazans but justice ... stand up against your government and protest!! make them stop this madness ... or do you think we will live afterwards in a more save Israel/world ... burn you passport and apply for a passport at the UN ... this would be a symbol!!! ... why they never learn their lesson??!!! Gaza will be the Vietnam of Israel ... do you want this?! ... there is a time for peace and there is a time for struggle (jihad) ... and I mean to fight your criminal government and silenced media (and me to fight our governmental complicity and the biased media) ...

Thank you for your honesty, as you know we disagree on many issues and I think the path you go will not improve the Palestinian situation as it call for war in conditions where the Palestinians cannot cope with Israel backed USA force nor you fail to wake up the "WORLD" that do not respond to the blame of WAR CRIMES even in capital letters.

I do not consider the attack on Gaza as good, nor I think that Israel could prevent that killing. I have many ideas of how this conflict can end but I also see Israel as human system that do mistakes. The way you describe Israel and I understand it as the way you see Israel as total Evil.

when you see some one as total Evil, you can understand that it is posible to otehrs to see something else as total Evil (as Israelis see the Hamas). then you can see

The reason you cannot see it from my writing is that you remember that I am Israeli, and since I do not agree with you, you think that I agree with the Zionist position hence I am Evil Hence what ever I say is actually a propaganda of Evil (HASBARA as marry rizzo like to call it).

so please, think again. calling any one Evil is Evil itself, you can recognize that.

I am a human with human cloth as you and as any other palestinian. The palestinian fate is important to any human who respect human dignity and care for others. we agree that the situation need to be different, we need trust to change it and with your words - I see you do not trust me or others who do not accept 100% of what you say.
No, Neri I am not that simple to see only black and white ... but what we see HERE is to be called a WAR CRIME ... otherwise I don't know what is a war crime!!?? ... and it is so clear that there are hidden agendas and that every rational being must know this could never be the solution for anything - on the contrary it is worsening the situation for all parties ... so who has some interest to make this "war" ... or rather lets call it massacre?

War is business and there is an election to win ... the reasons are so dirty that all the peacemaking is in vain ... you have to fight the real enemy and this is an ideology of exploitation and greed and everything which justifies it !!! Wake up Neri ... I want to believe in your naivity but you should know better ... and I am not against people who are living in Israel and are Israelis - I am against people who do nothing against their own governments who are deeply corrupt and who makes them believe that they protect you but rather use or abuse you ... thats the sad thing! I don't care about nations and nationalities and all these kind of identifications.

But if I would live in Israel I would fight for justice for the Palestinians ... you have so great people and organisations there, like Gisha, Anarchists against the Wall , the Israeli Social TV, just to mention some ... and these mostly young people have the right feeling for justice, just listen to them ... you can find me with them: Israelis I love ... I have Israeli friends and Palestinian friends and you can believe me - they are not my friends cos they are Israelis or Palestinian - they are my friends cos they have a sense for justice !!! Without justice there never will be peace - so the only thing you have to achieve and to work on is towards justice ... and I don't call for war ... I call for struggle for justice ... this is something totally different!!!
I agree, their is more behind the story Israël is telling.
Why does the U.S. give Israël a free hand to do what they want. The americans are paying the war. If they did not, Israël could not fight longer than a month or three. They let the Israëlies psy everywhere in their country. The Israël lobbies dominate the elections in the U.S. In 1967 Israël attackted the finest ship of the U.S. and it was covered by the U.S. The few who survived begin to talk now. They do not understand why their friend Israél attact them. I got the movie. "If Americans knew.". Do the Israëlies know?
What is going on is genocide on the Palestinans living in the Gaza. A former prime Minister of the Netherlands 'van Acht ' has said this on TV. Even that the wall , the Israëlies have build, is against the International Laws. And the Palestinians are denied all human rights. He blames Europe and even the government of the Netherlands because they don't speak . So, what is going on? This is the story of the survivals of the attaked ship in 1967. This is the story of "If the Americans knew". Not only Gaza is in danger. The american people are in danger too. Who rules America?



Latest Activity

Dr. David Leffler posted a blog post

Cruise Ships for Peace in The Middle East

By Teresa Studzinski, Arlene J. Schar, and Dr. David Leffler Variations of this article were…See More
Nov 6
Shefqet Avdush Emini updated their profile
Oct 29
Mauricio San Miguel Llosa updated their profile
Oct 4
Amir Salameh updated their profile
Jun 25
Fredda Goldfarb updated their profile
Apr 15
Dr. David Leffler posted a blog post
Apr 9


"Like" us on Facebook

Promote MEPEACE online



© 2019   Created by Eyal Raviv. Supported by One Region, One Future.   ..

Feedback | Report an Issue  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service