Picking on the AJDS

Okay, so I displeased Larry Stillman and Steve Brook of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society with my previous entry on their letters to the AJN. I cannot say that I regard their expressed positions on the Goldstone report and Gaza massacre as satisfactory. I think a decent position on the Gaza massacre should acknowledge the following basic facts

1) Israel attacked entirely without provocation.

2) Israel rejected an offered ceasefire, making it responsible for every death and all the suffering that occurred, which was entirely unnecessary.

3) Israel had good reason to think the ceasefire it was offered would be upheld, because Hamas had adhered to the previous 6 month ceasefire more faithfully than Israel had.

4) There was overwhelming evidence during the attack on Gaza that Israel was committing war crimes.

5) for the sake of being even-handed: Yes, Hamas’s Qassam rockets are indiscriminate weapons, and thus they have been condemned as war crimes by every relevant human rights investigation. However, Israeli propaganda also made the claim that Hamas was using Palestinian civilians as human shields, which has not been substantiated by any investigation at all. Indeed, the criticisms of Goldstone’s report haven’t made much of this finding. However, to be even handed further: there was substantial evidence during and after (and before) the attack on Gaza that Israel used Palestinians as human shields. So far, what was condemned as a unique proof of the evil of Hamas has not yet been noted as evidence of Israeli indifference to human life.

Consequently, it is not enough to say – well, we should reflect on Goldstone’s findings, perhaps Israel should launch an investigation, this shows the need for compromise and international intervention. I think any progressive opinion should start by saying: yes, Israel committed war crimes in an unprovoked massacre of a helpless population, compounding the appalling crime of the blockade.

In the past I’ve written at length documenting the facts I note above. Here, I documented the leadup to the war. Here, I just ran through some of the easily discoverable facts about the massacre. I think this is all perfectly straightforward. Any decent, progressive stance should begin by being based on the 5 premises listed above. I cannot accept as legitimate any comparison or equivocation between the two sides. Even after the massacre, the blockade is still a crime of unbelievable cruelty.  It recently emerged that partially because of the massacre, Gazans now need to find a new source of water.

Perhaps this means I advocate being imbalanced, disproportionate, blaming one side, being partisan, whatever other names are considered appropriate. So be it. I think any honest appraisal of the facts should lead to the conclusions I’ve sketched out. If this rules out having something in common with those who feel nationalist loyalty to the Israeli government that no one feels for the Australian government, then so be it. Open-mindedness or even handedness are not appropriate reactions to the Gaza massacre. They were not appropriate during it, and they are not appropriate now.

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