The New York Times on Sunday broadcast a video attempting to present an evenhanded explanation of the latest violence to befall the Gaza Strip. The narrator lays out the situation in tones befitting such tragedy, taking care not to appear biased. But, when the situation is honestly considered — over 100 Palestinians dead and 600 wounded, including many small children, with seven Israelis killed and 79 wounded, all figures likely to increase in the coming days — the fallacy of what we consider an ‘evenhanded’ presentation of Israel’s latest aggression in Gaza should be apparent.
We might think of Israel’s persistent demolition of Gaza as a reasonable response to rockets fired by Hamas. In all likelihood, however, Hamas’ aggression began after Ahmad Nabhani, a man with developmental problems, was shot on Nov. 5 when he walked too close to a border crossing in addition to the death of a 13-year-old boy three days later, shot while playing soccer. A retaliatory rocket from Gaza then killed four Israeli soldiers.
After this tit-for-tat, a ceasefire was agreed to, and then broken, by Israel in the attack that killed Ahmad Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing. The ensuing exchange has yet to stop. The violence’s cyclical nature, in which Israel claims to attack in response to aggression from Hamas and vice versa, appears to have a more definite point of origin, not that American news outlets care to print it.
Regardless of the origin of the conflict (arguing which side is the aggressor once reciprocal violence becomes the reality is rather frivolous), it would still seem from the American perspective that Hamas and Israel assume equal stature; that the rockets fired remotely from Gaza pose just as grave a threat as Israel’s F-16 jet fighters. However, a quick look at the casualty count suggests a different story.
As was the case the last time Israel saw fit to terrorize Gaza’s population, in “Operation Cast Lead” four years ago, Israel’s strategy is one of broad destruction akin to total warfare intended to destroy any sense of self-determination within Gaza, despite the claims that Israel’s strikes are targeted and any civilian casualties are unintended. At the end of the day, Israel holds the far longer, sharper end of the stick, and it seems to be jabbing it with a blindfold on.
Israel now stands poised to invade Gaza again, an act certain to increase the civilian death toll, but our discourse finds Israel well within its rights in such violence; after all does it not have a right to defend itself?
That question hinges on the assumption that Israel’s posture is defensive, meaning their way of life that is under threat. This seems to be the case within the narrative laid before us, and reactionary figures in the West believe this to be true. But it is not the reality, and documentation of the more sinister motives for Israeli impunity exists.
At the time of “Operation Cast Lead,” Israeli military officials recognized that the strategy of bombarding and invading Gaza was not intended to destroy Hamas but was tied to a decades old pattern of colonization, culminating with the creation of a “Greater Israel” spanning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This goal necessitates, in addition to the annexation of the West Bank, beating the Palestinians in Gaza into submission. At that time, Israeli officials themselves recognized that further beatings were inevitable, that it was always only a matter of time until the process bore repeating, thus creating the present situation. This narrative is no secret, not even within Israel itself, and it’s exactly this narrative that the New York Times lacks.
Michael Dean is a fourth year political science major.
Michael Dean’s rebuttal to the position taken by “Right Said” columnist Jeffrey Robin:
Imagine for me, if you would, the following hypothetical scenario. You are sitting at home listening to the bombs that go off several times an hour, often very near to you (no television, not since the power supply was destroyed). All of a sudden your consciousness stops. You are no more. A bomb dropped from an Israeli plane, aimed at the media compound across the street, which Israel claims to be used by Hamas, missed its target by about thirty feet and hit your apartment building. There was no siren. No bomb shelter in which to seek refuge. Only death.
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