29 May 2006

That blissful detachment

It is very instructive to browse from time to time through the Guardian Israeli shelf at the http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/. There is really no quiet moment on that shelf, and it keeps growing at a speed that would be envied by many other countries (if, indeed, other countries could care about coverage by Guardian).

There are quite a few contributors to the ever-rising stack of articles. They do not think alike, they do not write alike, they are not alike. However, there is one common trait that unites them: that intangible, but easy to distinguish ability to detach themselves from reality in favor of the point they are intent to make. That ivory tower syndrome, so to say.

Take as an example what two different authors say about Israeli shelling of Gaza. Chris McGreal in this article:

The military says the bombardment is aimed at deterring Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel from open fields...

And Jonathan Freedland in this piece:

Gazans are living with round-the-clock artillery shelling, which Israel says is retaliation for the Qassam rockets fired by Palestinians over the border.

To be fair to Chris McGreal (which I loath to be), at least he does not skew the purpose of the bombardment - unlike Jonathan Freedland, whose ivory tower is loftier, probably, and allows the reality to be skewed even more.

But this is less important than the fact that all Guardian authors on that shelf relate to the incessant launching of Qassams as if it is a normal day-to-day pastime of any neighboring country and is, in fact, an unalienable right of every person. I cannot find a single article dealing with Qassams from the Israeli side.

While becrying the hardships (real, no argument here) of the Gazans, not one of the ivory tower thinkers asks himself or his audience a simple question: what would happen if the Gazans try, for a change, to behave as if they are not an occupied and oppressed sufferers but as if they are free people who need to build their own future? What will happen if they decide to stop launching rockets, smuggling arms and explosives, attacking the same border checkpoints that provide their livelihood and in general stop devising new ways to kill the Jooz?

No, a question like this is too practical and simple, thus not an option for the occupiers of ivory towers. Jonathan Freedland takes the issue to a higher level of atmosphere, where a mortal human brain will quit to function due to the lack of oxygen. Undeterred by the low oxygen level, he deigns to offer the following:

Time after time Israel has sought to bypass Palestinians' chosen representatives, deeming them too extreme. Eventually, it has had little choice but to deal with the official leadership - only to find it has been overtaken by a more radical alternative. Israel ignored and undermined Fatah, so it got Hamas. Now, Palestinians warn, if Israel won't deal with Hamas it will eventually face Islamic Jihad or even al-Qaida, which is already making inroads in Gaza. When that day comes, Israel will regret missing its chance to deal with the relative moderates of Hamas.

Sorry, Jonathan, but I have some news for you: we have been dealing with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other assorted "alphabet soup" gangs during the oh so moderate Yasser's reign. For some reason that might be hidden from you, the chosen leader Yasser did not move his little finger to prevent the killings. Nor do the "relative moderates" (really a pinnacle of verbal acrobatics) of Hamas, who have declared that they will not interfere with all these gangs.

And that pitiful attempt to frighten us with "even al-Qaida" - this is really pathetic. So another bunch of people intent to kill some Jooz calls itself al-Qaida. What else is new? Should an al-Qaida suicide bomber make a stronger impression on somebody than one from PFLP, Hamas, Jihad Islami or any other lunatic?

And the so called "ceasefire" you are mentioning is just a sham, as long as Hamas allows the other ready and willing gangs continue with their own "business as usual" without interference. Nothing new here, really, and no ideas forthcoming from the Guardian's shelf.

So Israel should take the lead, urging the US, Britain and the rest of the world to allow this money through.

And who will guarantee that the money will be used to finance hospitals and schools instead of being used to buy more arms?

Meanwhile, the two sides can engage in day-to-day, practical cooperation - without either having to take the unpalatable step of recognising the other.

Yes, quite a cooperation model - with one side following a proviso of its own making: cooperate and kill some Jooz on the side. How does the answer look from the tower, Jonathan?

Vague, I am afraid, like all the other answers...