In their coverage of this summer’s Israeli invasion of Gaza, the New York Times and many other mainstream media would have us believe that that bully, Gaza, is hitting poor Israel below the belt. Their narrative ignores key realities:
• Israel, a colonial settler state much like former apartheid South Africa, is the nuclear-armed regional superpower. It has one of the world’s mightiest militaries, thanks in part to three billion dollars in US military aid it receives annually.
• Israel has deployed surveillance and weaponized drones 24/7 over Gaza ever since its 2008/2009 Operation Cast Lead invasion of that isolated, desperately poor—but feisty—refugee enclave of Palestine. Many of those Gazans (or their parents and grandparents), before being driven out in 1947, had their homes, land and livelihoods in what is now Israel. In 2008 Gaza already had been crippled by years of illegal military occupation. Now this huge glass prison is being garrotted by years of Israel’s military siege.
• During the Operation Cast Lead massacre (the kill ratio was 100 to one), Israel used air power to destroy broad swaths of civilian infrastructure. In 2008/2009 Israeli drones killed 87 Gazan civilians, including many children, maiming more and terrorizing hundreds of thousands.*
Note that along with the US, Israel leads the world in developing both surveillance and weaponized drones. It used the 2008/2009 invasion to test and subsequently export its Israeli Aerospace Industries’ “Heron” drone and its Elbit Systems Ltd’s “Hermes” drone.
What can we do to end the ongoing carnage? For starters we can pressure our Congressional representatives—Ms. Gillibrand, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Maffei—to end US military aid to Israel. More long term, we can join efforts to ban weaponized drones over US skies and internationally. And when there’s a justice-for-Gaza demo, let’s be sure to join it.
*See the Human Rights Watch 2009 39-page report, “Precisely Wrong: Gaza Civilians Killed by Israeli Drone-Launched Missiles.” Also see Norman G. Finkelstein, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, O/R Books, 2010. And Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oxford, 2006.