Gaza: Do the Palestinians Have the Right to Exist?

I am so tired of hearing Tel Aviv complain that certain Palestinian factions do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.  Regardless of their opinion of Israel’s right, even Hamas leaders have stated that the fact is that Israel does exist.  Meanwhile, Israel is once again waging a military campaign against the Palestinians that, in essence, is just one more battle in its attempt to prevent Palestine from ever existing again.  Of course, Washington defends the campaign by insisting that Israel has a “right to defend itself,” which means that its military forces can do whatever the hell they want . . . though the Palestinians, of course, don’t have the same right.

If the true goal is to save the Israeli Defense Force soldier recently taken prisoner, there is no logic in invading Gaza, since such an action is more likely to lead to the soldier’s death.  There is no logic to the military destruction of Palestinian power plants, which provide forty-two percent of the electricity to the Palestinians.  No logic at all in intimidating the President of Syria by buzzing his home with warplanes.

From where I sit, the poor soldier appears to have become one more pawn in Tel Aviv’s attempt to destroy, forever, the Palestinian hope of a homeland.  Foot soldiers of expansionist armies anywhere are never more than pawns in the game of the rulers, whether they are sent to give their lives in battle for the power and profit of a few or whether they are kidnapped and held for ransom.  If Tel Aviv were truly only interested in saving the life of the corporal from France, it would negotiate some kind of prisoner exchange.  This is what the Palestinian forces have offered and this is all they want.

But there is something more at play in Gaza right now.  The much ballyhooed withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza strip last year has proven to be a sham.  Not only does Tel Aviv control the borders and skies over the strip, it also has freedom of movement both there and in the West Bank.  The arrests of several elected Palestinian leaders on June 28, 2006 prove even further that the independent Palestinian “state” that Tel Aviv and its mentors in Washington, DC say exists is nothing more than a sham.  No wonder the majority of Palestinian civilians support taking the IDF soldier prisoner.  After all, the Israeli government not only has thousands of Palestinians in its prisons, it also continues to kill civilians at an alarming rate, especially when one considers Tel Aviv’s claims that it doesn’t mean to kill them.

Like Washington in Iraq, Tel Aviv appears to believe that its overwhelming firepower and monetary superiority will achieve victory over the desire of the people whose lands it occupies to rid themselves of the occupation.  Also like Washington, Tel Aviv has let its belief in victory lead its military and political forces to deny their expressed principles and condone murder, torture and terror.  In a poor imitation of their gods, these two capitals attempt to reshape their conquered territories in their own image, no matter how many they have to kill and imprison.  The citizens of both Israel and the United States, meanwhile, either support this denial of their nations’ principles and even urge for more repression and war; or they vainly struggle against these acts, hoping that someday the great unwashed majorities in their respective nations will finally become appalled at bloodlust and pillage done in their name; or  they live in constant denial . . . secure in their belief that they will never answer for the crimes in which we are all complicit.

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground, just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch‘s new collection on music, art and sex: Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at <>.