Who can (really) end the cycle of violence?

Israel/Palestine
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Four years after “Operation Cast Lead” which costs the lives of more than 1400 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, Israel went at it again. This time, it was called “Operation Pillar of Cloud”. 

The whys of this new attack have already been debated in newspapers, on TV, radio and on the blogosphere.

If you still watch TV or anything owned by the Corporate/Mainstream media, you would have heard countless of times that Israel had no other choice and had to defend itself against Rocket Fire coming from Gaza and its terrorist organisation: KHAMAS (the letter k has been added for pronunciation as well as special effects). You would also be bound to believe that between “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008/2009 and “Operation Pillar of Cloud” in 2012, all had been quiet on the Gaza waterfront. Four years of sun tan, ice cream and picnics on the beach for the Palestinians.

If you dig further, the upcoming January 2013 elections in Israel, the need to show deterrence and invent a justification before a forthcoming aggression on Iran, the itch to test the new Muslim brotherhood led Egyptian government, the hardly hidden excitement to try out their latest toy “The Iron Dome” or the imperialist tactic of trying to divide even more Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have all been named as possible reasons for “Operation Pillar of Cloud”. A combination of all those things probably explains best the Israeli Government new ‘outing’ in Gaza.

Having looked into things a bit further, away from the profit driven spectacle that our news channels have now become, you would also have found out that things, in fact, for the Palestinians, have not been that rosy between the two Israelis “Operations”. As a matter of  fact, 314 Palestinians have been killed since 2009.

You would also have found out that since the recent ‘conflict’ started on November 14th, approximately 23% of the fatalities have been children.

Now that the roots of this latest war have been established (at least partly) and debated endlessly, the media’s focus has shifted to the urgency of “de-escalating” the conflict and working on a ceasefire. What needs to be done, as soon as possible, is to stop the violence and end the loss of life, on both sides.

A ceasefire was agreed on late on Thursday 22 November (see text here) but every sensible commentator knows that it will once again only be a stop-gap before another Israeli assault. The real urgency is to find a real and concrete solution and end the violence, all in all, for good. As Noura Erakat said on a panel on MSNBC recently (see here first video at 07:13): “If all rocket fire were to stop today and aerial missile strikes, and Israel’s ground offensive were to stop, the violence against the Palestinians would continue unabated”.

So who is to make sure that Israel becomes accountable for its actions, stops building more colonies in occupied Palestinian Territories, ends the longest occupation in history, its apartheid policies both inside and outside the Green Line, dismantles the wall (in accordance with the 2004 ICJ ruling on the wall), stops targeted (aka extra judicial assassinations).

As usual, we are presented with the same options and the same team of negotiators and possible saviours.

Number one negotiator in chief is of course the only superpower on earth remaining, the democracy and freedom lover, the “honest-broker”, the one and only United States of America.

Hillary Clinton “dashed to the Middle East” to try to broker a ceasefire the Washington Post is telling us. Superwoman, flying to the rescue of people in need!

Clinton, Secretary of State, of a State, that is actually funding Israel’s latest adventure.

While Clinton talks to Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, US planes, drones and Apache helicopters are carpet bombing the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. Since 1976 Israel has been the largest recipient of US foreign aid and has received since the end of World War II around $115 billion in economic aid. Aid to Israel, a country of around 8 million inhabitants, has averaged about 25% of all US foreign aid.

The US also gives Israel 60% of the US foreign Military Financing (FMF) funding which also makes it the largest recipient of US military funding.

Crucially, the US also provides Israel with diplomatic support. Since 1972, the US has used its veto at the Security Council to protect Israel more than 43 times. It did so again last week when it blocked a UN Security Council Statement calling for a ceasefire labelling it “unbalanced”.

Outside of Israel/Palestine, the USA is also very active in occupying Iraq, Afghanistan and drone bombing Pakistan and Yemen.

So who else could end the violence and save us?

The United Kingdom, also involved in war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that has in its history  invaded 90% of the world’s countries?

The recently Nobel Prize Winner, the European Union, that is slowly becoming more and more of a poodle of the USA, and that includes countries that have been involved in more wars and atrocities in their history than the rest of the world combined?

Or maybe the Middle East Quartet, led by the irrepressible Warmonger in chief Tony Blair?

Can violence and war junkie states that have been engaged in state terrorism for decades and are actually directly or indirectly responsible for much of the world’s violence really be in charge of world peace? Are we really to believe this? Have they and their huge media apparatus fooled us for good? Have we lost the capacity to concentrate on historical facts and actions instead of words? Does a war criminal only needs a smile, a suit and a tie to become a dove?

The only answer possible to this question is no, they can’t.

So what does this leave us with?

Us, the people.

But how can we do it?

By regaining the power and changing the policy. To do so, we first have to get rid of the present policy makers.

A good start would be for us to break this habit of believing that anyone on TV, in office, with a white suit or a uniform knows better than us and is an authoritative voice not to be challenged. It might take a while as we have been taught to respect those father figures from the earliest age, from our first classes in school, from our first steps but it is possible and necessary.

We have to be sceptical, challenge power and look for the truth ourselves. It is available, if we do spend enough time looking for it. We have to stop believing that we do not have the choice. We do.

Then, once we have managed to wash ourselves clean of years of brainwashing, we have to break the system as we know it and start all over again. Representative governments have never equalled democracy. They have never meant democracy and have actually often been the total opposite of it. Ancient Greece would laugh out loud at the idea. We have to re-write the rules that have been written by oligarchs (when you have a chance, try to read various countries constitutions, you’ll be surprised) to make sure that their power will not ever be challenged and to make certain that the people will never be able to take it way from them. (the real meaning of democracy). How else can we explain that in 200 years of representative democracy, only the rich (the 1%) have governed with the poor (the 99%) never having had the chance to be in charge of their own destiny?

To live in a world where justice, equal rights and freedom for all will be the main motto, we first have to break away from what is radically wrong. What name we will give this new world? What type of world would it really be in practice?

We do not know yet but it will certainly be better than this one.

Frank Barat on twitter: @frankbarat22. His site: http://baratfrank.com/

About Frank Barat

Frank Barat is a Human Rights activist based in London. He is one of the coordinators of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a popular tribunal created in 2009 to expose and examine Israel's impunity in regards to its treatment of the Palestinian People. He has edited two books; 'Gaza in Crisis' with Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, and 'Corporate Complicity in Israel's Occupation' with Asa Winstanley. He has also participated in the book 'Is there a court for Gaza?' with Daniel Machover.

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