Ali Abunimah: After Gaza

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Berkeley–March 25t–At his introduction, Ali Abunimah was proclaimed as one of the best Palestinian thinkers in this post-Said period.  In the introduction for him, he was one of the founders of the extremely influential Electronic Infitada. Ali grew up in the diaspora in Belgium and the U.K. (United Kingdom) eventually emigrating to Chicago.  Abunimah is both an activist and a writer.  The admirable organization, MECA (the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance) headquartered here in Berkeley, brought him to Northern California.

Ali began with the recent twenty-two day bombardment of the Gaza Strip at the end of December last year deep into January of this year.  Two Hundred and thirty-nine police officers were killed who are, also, considered civilians.  By far, the highest category of casualties were women and children.  Homes, Mosques, police stations, health centers, educational institutions (including those run by the U.N. [United Nations]) and agricultural lands were all decimated. 

Journalists do not live in Palestine (the exception being Al Jazeera), they are domiciled in Israel. Although we should keep in mind, the excellent sympathetic journalist, Alan Johnson,  of the BBC (British Broadcasting Company), who was embedded within the Gazan people, but was kidnapped by criminals.)  Your writer was particularly taken by the sensitivities of his dispatches, but after he was ransomed no Western news organizations felt it was safe to station employees there.

The remarkable Left-of-Center English language Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, has published the testimony of Israeli enlisted soldiers and draftees about the atrocities they had seen or were ordered to do, and their assertions are most disturbing. 

An IDF (Israel Defense Force) platoon commander was quoted as saying “The lives of the Palestinians are less valuable than the lives of the Israeli soldiers.”  The disgusted soldiers, who talked to reporters, confessed that they were ordered to directly attack Red Crescent Ambulances.  Everywhere houses were vandalized and/or destroyed. Now, every day new testimony is emerging on Gaza from ordinary Israeli soldiers who do have a moral conscious. 

One of the more horrendous tactics used by the Israeli Forces was the weapon White Phosphorus.  White Phosphorus in and of itself is not against the “Laws of war,” but it is only to be employed as marker, and not in tightly-packed civilian compounds such as Gaza, for once inside of the body, it cannot be taken out.  It continues to burn.  It was “..used upon [the overly-populated Gaza] purposely!”  This was a Crime against Humanity!  In fact it it was directly used against the U.N. compounds themselves!

The U.S and Israel has called Richard Falk (the U.N.’s Rapporteur on the Territories), whom your  author reported on two issues ago, has been accused of being unfair and unbalanced by both the U.S.A. and Jewish Jerusalem.  America is not keen on an investigation.  The international investigators that have come since the blitzkrieg have reported the majority of the exploded weaponry came from the States.  “ Amnesty [International] has called for a boycott of Israel.”

The touted American aid to Gaza has so many strings attached that that it means that the average citizen will see none of this “help.”  Most of the proposed aid will go to the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank (controlled by Fatah, opposed to Gaza’s Hamas) while the Obama Administration has proposed 25% more aid to the obscene amount already committed to Tel Aviv in the past.  The U.S. is still the main financier of Israel’s Juggernaut!  (As Abunimah’s introducer, a Palestinian from Bethlehem, said that he could not see any difference in American policy to Palestine since the end of the Bush Administration.)

Tel Aviv claims “Israel is revising International Law!” [Sic!]

Ali continues his righteous harangue, “The U.S. is in no position to lecture anybody on human rights!”  The best chance for justice is the principle of Universal Jurisdiction.  Several countries have these laws on their books.  Essentially it means any infraction of International law anywhere in the world can be prosecuted in the national courts who hold such laws.  In fact, the Spanish Courts are investigating actions of certain Israeli officials in 2002.  “International institutions have failed…so, it is time International Civil Society to step in!”  He declared that we have to create alternative forms of justice.

The boycott movement against Israel, he said, is “going mainstream.”  Union actions sprang up during the Gaza crisis in Norway and South Africa.  “Israel is manipulating [its] culture to counter its militarism;” therefore, “Boycotting [should be [applied] against the implicated Institutions of the oppressors.” 

Lamenting the lack of academic freedom for Palestinians, he said those going abroad to study face “a sentence of exile.” 


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