Any citizen of the United States advocating the lifting of the Israeli blockade against Gaza is guilty of arch hypocrisy, although the New Left has developed such positions into something of a science.The United States has from its inception as a world power resorted to the use of naval blockade and economic sanctions against its enemies. Our allies starved Imperial Germany into submission during the First World War. The naval blockade was not fully lifted until well into 1919 when the defeated Central Powers (with the exception of Ottoman Turkey) signed the Treaty of Versailles. Then we have the case of Cuba and the United States declaring a naval quarantine of Cuba in 1962. As in the Israeli case in Gaza, the Cuban crisis focused on the issue of rockets aimed at U.S. territory. Unlike, the Gaza situation, the Israelis actually have rockets being fired at and into sovereign Israeli territory. If one wants to quibble that Hamas rockets are not nuclear missiles, one can say that this is only a matter of degree and time. It is certainly possible to develop the Hamas delivery systems into vehicles that can deliver more lethal warheads, i.e., weaponized anthrax or some other widely produced Soviet era biological warfare bi-product.The WWI blockade was a distant blockade, the British Admiralty desired to keep its fleet in being in order to contest the German High Seas fleet at some juncture during the conflict (this occurred during the indecisive battle of Jutland in May-June, 1916). There may also be loose blockades as well as close blockades. Incidentally the first use of blockade as an act separate from operations occurring during a time of war was by British, French, and Russian naval assets against the Ottomans in 1827. During this period, the allied fleets blockaded the Turkish occupied coast of Greece. The allies, it should be noted, entered into an anti-Ottoman (anti-Muslim) policy for political and religious, not simply economic and geopolitical ones). This is to say that the west has resorted to blockades in cases where our own sovereign states were not under direct military threat of any kind. Yet, to draw the point home, the New Left and its supporters on foreign policy issues, sees fit to criticize a sovereign state imposing a close blockade under circumstances that, when examined, clearly arise from a clear and present threat to Israel's security.
1) The blockade of the Central Powers occured within the life or death struggle of WWI.2) The Cuban missile crisis was literally a matter of life or death for the western world.3) The year is 2010, and everybody in the west would understand an Israeli arms embargo. The Israeli embargo is also in part an economic one just as the Allied embargo in WWI and the American embargo against Cuba. Like the other two it is intended to undermine the enemy regime. But the fact of the matter is that goods such as cement and rebar are prohibited because they can be used for building fortifications. Israel apparently feels entitled to prevent the building of fortifications in Gaza just because they are intended to protect missile launching sites. This amounts to a collective punishment of 1.5 million people as though there were a cold war going on between Israel and Gaza. Admittedly Gaza does shoot missiles at Israeli civilian towns whenever they think they can get away with it, but isn't that their right?Anybody with a conscience can see not only that this is wrong, but also counterproductive. I know this because though, I don't actually know the history of the area, I do read the Guardian regularly. So I am a qualified expert in Middle Eastern geopolitics.When you drive a nation of people into dire poverty, into a humanitarian crisis, don't be surprised if they are further radicalised. After all, look at the rage onE sees among poor people in India, Africa, and South America. Admittedly there isn't much, but there SHOULD BE. It's all very terribly short sighted. After all, look at how radicalized the Saudi Al Qaeda fighters have become. Admittedly bin Laden and his group are oil millionaires. But one must realize that there are people in Saudi Arabia who are richer still, compared to whom bin Laden and his colleagues must feel quite poor. So poverty is still the issue.And the Zionist objection that they have brought it on themselves by attacking their neighbors is just Zionist propaganda. The fact that there is considerable economic growth in the West Bank and in Jordan which are not constantly bombarding their neighbors with rockets has nothing to do with it. The Zionist implication is that the people of Gaza are actually responsible for their actions rather than the Israelis. The Israelis are responsible for their actions because they are adults. The people of Gaza are our little brown brothers and need our help.That is the same reason Israel is to be held responsible for the deprivations in Gaza, admittedly not of food or clothing or building materials other than concrete and rebar, and not Egypt. The Egyptian embargo of their border with Gaza, without which the Israeli embargo would be meaningless, is of no interest. It is not a joint Israel-Egyptian embargo because the Egyptians are also our little brown brother and need our help. Also mentioning the Egyptian embargo contradicts the correct narrative and is thus Zionist propaganda.
Hello Christy (two part response),Good to hear from you in a civil tone by the way. I only have time to comment briefly on two points:1. Israel is involved in a long-term life or death struggle. Several Arab states, Syria for example, remain in a legal state of war with Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah have licitly and illicitly associated themselves with the Syrian regime. Hamas and Hezbollah by their associations and actions are perpetuating a state of war with Israel. That Hamas in Gaza is to some extant a proxy does not allow Hamas and the Gazan population the right to sidestep international responsibilities, particularly with respect to the Isreali-Egyptian peace treaty. That the situation is somewhat less bleak for Palestinians in the West Bank owes something to the fact that the West Bank is not controlled by Hamas (Jack has briefed and rebriefed this point so often we need not dwell on it).2. Christy, you wrote: "The Egyptian embargo of their border with Gaza, without which the Israeli embargo would be meaningless, is of no interest." The Egyptian govt. decision to maintain an embargo on Gaza is not only of interest, but highly significant. One is surprised to find you so dismissive of a sovereign Arab state's policy to pacify and control the integrity of its international borders. The war in Gaza is not a conflict local to Gaza but threatens to move beyond the strip, so to speak. For example:"In early 2009, Egypt discovered a Hezbollah plot to smuggle weaponsinto the Gaza Strip using the underground tunnels. The multi-pronged plotinvolved 49 suspects — including Egyptian, Lebanese, Palestinian and Sudanesemembers14 — who planned to attack Israeli tourist sites in the Sinai Peninsula and to fire on ships in the Suez Canal.15 Hezbollah’s SecretaryGeneral, Hassan Nasrallah, acknowledged that his group was actively engagingin operations to support and arm Hamas in solidarity with the Palestiniancause. Many agued, however, that Hezbollah’s actions were aimed at morethan simply helping Hamas, posing a serious security threat to Egypt on severalfronts. For instance, it is not implausible that the weapons smuggled in byHezbollah could be used in Egypt and perhaps against the regime itself. (sources for these statements: The Daily Star (Lebanon), April 25, 2009, and Egypt Accuses Hezbollah of Plotting Attacks and Arms Smuggling toGaza,’’ The New York Times, April 13, 2009)There is, of course, a long-simmering and often violent struggle within Egypt between liberal (in the European sense)secularism and Islamists (Look what happened to Anwar Sadat). Since the economic downturn, the Islamist movement in the urban areas of Cairo have gained momentum. The womens mosque movement, by the way, is also burgeoning in Egypt. Its influence appears to be exerting more of a pacific tint to what otherwise would be territory yielded to Wahabi fundamentalists. As the women's mosque movement grew, the Egyptian secularist state sought to control and issue preaching licenses to male imams and female preachers after completion of a two year state course (law passed in 1996). I mention these Egyptian developments because the New Left argument regarding the radicalization of Islam as a result of Israeli policy simply does not hold up across the spectrum of the Islamic world - in fact, the model breaks down on the Egyptian side of Gaza's border. This is worth pondering long and hard.
Hello Christy (Part two of response)Recently, the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence and there may be something of a Cheshire Cat element to this renunciation; however, with virtually all of the senior male leadership of the MB dead or imprisoned, the tiller fell into the hands of wives involved in, yes, the womens mosque movement. Under the leadership of Zaynab Al-Ghazali Al-Jubaili (1917-2005) the womens mosque movement became conjoined with the muslim brotherhood and slowly began to reorientate its position vis a vis the Egyptian secularist state.What the upshot of this appears to indicate, although there are only a handful of scholars working on this phenomenon in the west, is this: it is the women who endure and create some kind of social stability within the rubric of Islam when more radical male dominated extremists fail (and they fail often). The Egyptian embargo against Gaza is a specific response to Egyptian social, political, and religious conditions within Egypt - Jihadist weapons need not compete with ongoing secularist-Islamist detante, itself a fragile construct. This goes by way of saying, Islam is a highly varigated religion and the media in the west does just as poor a job portraying its various aspects (who had heard of the Ahmadi Muslims prior to the attacks in Pakistan for example?)as it does Judaism and Israel. The New Left, by the way, is still trying to figure out where it stands with respect to the womens mosque movement in Egypt (see Dr. Saba Mahmood's work on the subject "The Politics of Piety" (2005). What one finds particularly exasperating is that the New Left appears to find reason to support extremist expressions of Islam without understanding how these minority factions actually impact Islamic society on a broader level. Kind Regards - David Pelfrey
David, you do realise that all of that stuff is way over my head? I don't really know anything about any of these issues. I just enjoy venting my racism by pretending to be "Abood".
Don't worry David. I'm sure your Uncle Jack will explain what he's doing here, next time you and he share an interesting and thought-provoking conversation over dinner or while kayaking or hiking.
Christy: Please refocus on the discussion at hand and let me know what you think about Egyptian motivations. Kind Regards - David Pelfrey
David, your uncle is moderating my posts and in some places clarifying my admittedly muddy prose. But he always leaves the meaning intact, usually more clearly stated than in the unedited version.