Sunday, May 23, 2004

An Entire Town In Gaza Is Being Destroyed By Israeli Tanks

This is collective punishment in Rafah

I was going to write this morning about Abu Ghraib and the exploding Iraqi detainee abuse scandal, where the evidence is leading inexorably up the command chain.

I was going to write this morning about the coruscating stupidity of the neocons, who bet OUR house on a notorious Iraqi expatriate con man and lost everything.

But what the fuck is happening in Rafah? International relief organizations and the BBC are reporting the destruction of scores of residential structures in Rafah, nearly 2000 homeless, and a spreading humanitarian crisis. There is no resistance in Rafah that justifies the brutality of the IDF tactics in Rafah. There is no sense to a policy of filling-in tunnels in Rafah allegedly used for weapons smuggling when Israel proposes to vacate the region within months. This is just shoveling sand against the tide. The Israelis can leave Gaza, but as long as Israel occupies Palestinian territories in the West Bank those tunnels in Rafah will return.

Where are the people of conscience in this country? It is our financial and military support of Israel and the political pusillanimity of our leaders that permit Ariel Sharon to slake his bloodlust. Where is the American equivalent of Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, who said the following of the Rafah incursion: "The demolition of houses in Rafah must stop. It is not humane, not Jewish, and causes us grave damage in the world." Where is the American journalist that will speak out against the Rafah atrocity, like Gideon Levy in Haaretz, who said "[t]he virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian people, the prevention of medical care, the mass arrests, the assassinations, the needless killing, the bombing of residential neighborhoods - the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF chief of staff and other top officers all bear responsibility for such acts."

These are Israeli policies, but to the extent they are made possible by unstinting U.S. support they are ours as well. We have an obligation to speak, to act, to inform Israel that the United States will not be party to the devastation of Rafah. We could stop the slaughter tomorrow. Our failure to do so is no less damaging to American prestige and influence in the world, and the security of our citizens at home, than the Abu Ghraib scandal.


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