Occupation – the unspeakable context

In lieu of a further response to my email (which, going on past experience, is unlikely to arrive swiftly, if at all), some brief thoughts on Martin Horwood’s initial reply, which read:

“I will be meeting with FCO officials and if possible ministers this week in relation to the situation in Gaza.  It is critical that we urge Hamas to cease rocket attacks on Israeli civilians but also that Israel pulls back from escalating the situation in a way that will doubtless cause more civilian casualties amongst the population in Gaza, further inflame opinion in other middle eastern countries and across the world and further damage any prospect of the peace process resuming.  The Fatah administration in the West Bank and moderates within Israeli civil and political society need to be encouraged in their efforts to find diplomatic and political paths out of this tragic situation.”

There are a number of things to note:

1.  This is a press release, not an answer to a constituent’s email.

2.  It is clear from the phraseology that, in Martin’s mind, this “tragic situation” began with rocket attacks from Gaza, which – inevitably – need to “cease” if Israeli “escalation” is to be prevented.  In addition, note the phrase “will doubtless cause more civilian casualties”, which of course assumes Israeli casualties logically preceded Palestinian casualties.  In fact, as a little research makes clear, this chronology is not in accord with the available evidence, which suggests that, as standard,  it was Israel that shattered the truce, not Hamas.

3.  Calls for Fatah to chart a path out of this “tragic situation” demonstrate a shocking naivety regards the political trajectory in Palestine.  Hamas was democratically elected, against a backdrop of Fatah corruption and collaboration with Israel.

4.  This is not a “tragic situation”, devoid of agency and context.  It is an occupier (Israel) smashing the occupied (Gaza), against a backdrop of systematic ethnic cleansing dating back to the 1940s.  An occupying power does not have the “right to defend itself” against those it occupies.  Rather, it has a RESPONSIBILITY to end its occupation, in accord with international legal norms.  This is the seemingly unspeakable context of Israel’s murderous assault on the people of Gaza; context that the mainstream media systematically denies its viewers, preferring in its place a spurious narrative of equivalence, of “tit for tat”, of “intractable conflict”, that of course plays straight into the hands of the occupier.

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Israel’s “right to defend itself” – an email to MP Martin Horwood

Dear Martin,
 
The state of Israel continues to justify its military action against Gaza on grounds of “self defence”. Ipso facto, since Gaza remains OCCUPIED under international law (an interpretation shared by the British government), it is proclaiming the right of an occupier to crush the resistance of the occupied.  Applied universally, this leads to conclusions any reasonable observer would reject (think Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait or Nazi Germany’s occupation of, say, France, and so on).  How then to explain why this “right” is accepted by so many (including, it would seem, William Hague) in the case of Israel?
 
I would be grateful if you could post your views at This is Gloucestershire, where they will be available to all.
 
Best wishes,
 
Joe
 
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Thank you for your email to Martin Horwood MP.  I have spoken to Martin this morning about the terrible situation in Gaza and attach a statement from him below.  If you would like to come and discuss this with him in person then please do let me know.

David Fidgeon

Assistant to Martin Horwood MP

01242 224889

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Statement from Martin Horwood MP

I will be meeting with FCO officials and if possible ministers this week in relation to the situation in Gaza.  It is critical that we urge Hamas to cease rocket attacks on Israeli civilians but also that Israel pulls back from escalating the situation in a way that will doubtless cause more civilian casualties amongst the population in Gaza, further inflame opinion in other middle eastern countries and across the world and further damage any prospect of the peace process resuming.  The Fatah administration in the West Bank and moderates within Israeli civil and political society need to be encouraged in their efforts to find diplomatic and political paths out of this tragic situation.

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Dear Martin,
 
Your press release does not answer the question.  To re-phrase:
 
Do you accept that the root cause of the recent violence is not rockets fired from Gaza, but rather Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian territory (to include the illegal siege of Gaza)?
  
Many thanks,
 
Joe

Israel’s “right to defend itself” – an exchange with Sarah Honig

Hi Sarah,
  
Hope you are well.  I wondered if you could help me with something…On the radio yesterday, I heard an Israeli official describe the current military action against Gaza as an act of “self defence”.
 
This seemed slightly confusing to me, since – as far as I understand matters – Gaza is still considered, by the UN (and, it would seem, the British government), to be occupied.  Thus, by corollary, the official appeared to be asserting the “right” of an occupying power to “defend itself” against those it occupies.
 
This seems a strange “right”, wouldn’t you agree?  Not least because, if applied universally, it leads to obviously silly conclusions, e.g.  that Iraq had the “right” to crush resistance to its occupation of Kuwait, or that Nazi Germany had the “right” to crush resistance to its occupation of, say, France.
 
I’d be grateful for your comments.
 
Many thanks,
 
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The claim that Gaza is occupied is an obscene falsehood!!!
 
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Seems an entirely reasonably interpretation to me, based on the degree of control Israel exercises over Gaza’s borders, airspace and territorial waters.  Hell, even the (pro-Israeli) UK government agrees.
 
Thus, on the face of it, Israel has about as much right to “defend itself” against Gaza as Iraq had to “defend itself” against Kuwait, or Nazi Germany had to “defend itself” against France.
 
Or am I being unfair?
 
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Yes, you are being unfair!
 
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Why?  Have you spotted a logical flaw?
 
[no further response from Sarah]
 
 
 
Note:  Sarah Honig is an Israeli journalist at the Jerusalem Post.  I had some brief correspondence with her back in 2009 regards Israel’s “apartheid wall”, which went like this…
 
Hi Sarah,
 
If Israel’s security fence was “erected to hamper suicide-bombers” (as you claim here: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1254861902749&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull), why was it not built on the Green Line? 
 
Thanks,
Joe
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Topography, dear Joe, topography!
 
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So it’s “topography” that explains why the wall encloses most of the major settlement blocs, the aquifers and the fertile land of the West Bank, right?
 
Joe
 
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Get a life, Joe – The wall mostly adheres to the Green Line, except where topography mades it impossibe. The settlers are OUTSIDE the wall!
 
Getting your facts staright might be a wee bit of a help, you know.
 
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Thanks, Sarah.  In fact, as you well know, only about 20 percent of the wall is on the Green Line – the rest cuts into the West Bank in order to annex major settlements and resources to Israel.  The maps don’t lie.  And as for the settlers, here’s an excerpt from the ICJ’s ruling on the wall:
 
“The Court notes that the route of the wall as fixed by the Israeli Government includes within the “Closed Area” (i.e. the part of the West Bank lying between the Green Line and the wall) some 80 per cent of the settlers living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and has been traced in such away as to include within that area the great majority of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem).”
 
Case closed? 

“I place my faith in elected government…”

They don’t like me very much over at This is Lincolnshire.  Nor, for that matter, over at This is Gloucestershire

Apparently, I see “sinister undertones and conspiracies in everything”.  This is a gross mischaracterisation.  I see sinister undertones and conspiracies in most things… not “everything”  😉

And with “conspiracy” on the brain, let’s take a trip down memory lane… (that rhymes).  Enjoy!