A haunting photo coming from Gaza showing the body of a dead child placed in an ice cream refrigerator as hospital morgues were overwhelmed with bodies and ran out of space due to the murderous campaign unleashed by Israel on the Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip. The stark contrast is so powerful yet symbolic of Israel’s gallantry and military prowess directed at children, women and the old in Gaza. It must be so difficult for Israel’s military to kill children: around 400 of them in this campaign!
Children in every corner are delighted to run after ice cream trucks and reach into freezers in neighborhood stores but in Gaza they became the frozen lifeless inhabitants of a refrigerator intended to provide much happiness at summer time. Yet, the ice cream freezers were not the only ones to be used as another disturbing image showed a vegetable refrigerator in a store likewise being filled to capacity as the numbers of civilian dead continued to mount and all existing hospital facilities were running beyond capacity.
One can see and examine these images from a variety of point of views but the contradiction that I would like to direct our attention is the one that must be made between America’s continued and unconditional support to Israel and the death and destruction permitted and encouraged by the US to be visited upon the Palestinians. Indeed, if the lifeless image of children in ice cream display is to be understood correctly and it should then it must be set as a contrast between America’s limitless apple pie support for Israel worth more than $3 billion dollar a year and the cold freezer intended for the Palestinians, at present in Gaza but also in the West Bank. America’s financial apple pie is what makes it possible for Israel to be the bully that it is and to punish the Palestinians time and time again.
In this current slaughter, President Obama, 100 Senators, and 418 Congressmen/women expressed in no uncertain terms America’s apple pie support for Netanyahu and Israel’s murderous campaign against the Occupied Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The expressions of support is so one sided that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims should ask the question on whether the US and America’s political elites comprehend the impacts of such policies on the Palestinians and the long term standing of America across the region.
The congressional votes included an expression of support worth an additional $225 millions emergency funding for the Iron Dome, replacement equipment and access to America’s pre-positioned armament that will allow Israel to continue its assault on a captive population. Indeed, America’s military ice cream and apple pie sent free to Israel to rain death, destruction and a freezer space for lifeless Palestinian children. The moral and ethical are frozen and America’s complicity is visible to each and every Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and conscious people around the world. Indeed, the weapons causing Palestinians pain and suffering are provided free of charge by Uncle Sam to the Israelis: every bullet, missile, plane, tank and the Iron dome all come from America. What have the Palestinians done to America to receive these death gifts!
Indeed, the aggression on Gaza has already surpassed all levels of brutality and cruelty with the Israeli army unleashing a violent campaign that has so far resulted in more than 1900 deaths (including more than 400 children, 300 women and dozens of elderly people), and more than 9,000 wounded (over 1500 children). In this campaign, no building, however sacred, was spared: more than 8,500 homes, 76 mosques, 2 churches, and 25 hospitals and health clinics were destroyed. Ambulances, doctors, nurses and paramedics, schools, universities, UN buildings, libraries, shelters, food markets, playgrounds, graveyards were also bombed, in addition to 152 educational facilities.
According to Israeli authorities 95 percent of the sixty declared Israeli fatalities are military, while according to the UN about three-quarters of Palestinian casualties are civilians. Consequently, top UN officials and human rights groups have conducted investigations and accused Israel of “war crimes,” and even called for the UN to impose an arms embargo against Israel.
The destruction will have a far reaching impact on the lives of Gaza’s population for years to come as the already tattered infrastructure have reached the point of collapse. Yet, what is missing from all the ink spent on Gaza is a clear linkage between President Obama’s failure in the peace process and Netanyahu’s march toward war crimes and Israeli death fields by design. While Gaza is smoldering as a result of Israel’s unrelenting bombardment; the real power behind Netanyahu must be located in America and the “audacity of hope” transformed into death and destruction by US made weapons and a single voice uniformed support from Washington political establishment and media acting as a cheer leading squad for war criminals. The army is Israel’s but the policy and the power making it happen belongs to America with both political parties united in supporting the massacre of the Palestinians in Gaza with Western media obfuscating the causes and the impacts.
President Obama arrived at the White House in 2009 and began a shift in policy on the failed war in Iraq and Afghanistan and into articulating America’s soft power in the then celebrated speech in Cairo, Egypt. The speech in more than one way created an audacity of hope for the Palestinians with the President calling for an end to settlement activities and the re-energizing the dormant peace process. Significant as it maybe, the President and his foreign policy team were unable (assuming they had the intention to do so) to bring about any change on the ground.
Following the Cairo speech, the President’s domestic agenda took center stage and most if not all of the political capital coming form his 2008 elections were spent on winning the healthcare reform. After the healthcare battle, the democrats were running for cover and tea party activists with strong pro-Israel leaning as well as heavy dose of Islamophobia managed to set the terms of the debate and Palestine was no longer on the President’s agenda. Furthermore, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and AIPAC managed to mobilize their congressional and senate power base and maneuver around the President on the settlement issue and the peace process itself. This was most evident when Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress and demolished in the process President Obama’s agenda on the peace process resulting in the White House and State Department complete abandonment of any effort in this regard.
The current campaign on Gaza has to be understood in the broader failure of US policy and the emboldened Israeli extreme right running the show on the ground in Gaza and through surrogates in Washington D.C. For all intensive purposes the Two State solution is dead, since the Peace Process was allowed to be an occupation by means of negotiations and in the process permitting Israel to swallow the West Bank one settlement at a time and one security zone and bypass road to protect it. The Peace Process made it possible for Israel to take the West Bank one piece at a time. In addition, the Palestinian Authority became the security agency tasked with protecting the settlement and settlers with US funding and training to this effect; thus transforming a national project into an classical colonial structure.
On the Middle East regional levels, the US and Europe supported the reemergence of the despotic, authoritarian and undemocratic regimes rather than standing for democracy, freedom and dignity of Arabs and Muslims. The outcome was disasters in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and the on-going fragmentation of Syria as well as fanning the flames of sectarian Sunni-Shia conflict across the region. For some in the US, Israel and Arab capitals this is a much celebrated containment strategy and the needed pain to “transform” and bring the Middle East into the modern world; a modern colonial Arab and Muslim world.
The Israeli attack on Gaza made it clear that the new order to be born in the region is the old one but with new faces managing the same post-colonial structures. Certainly, the Palestinians in Gaza were able to resist Israeli attacks and withstood a massive military assault but as the days counted it became clear that this was more than just Israel settling accounts with Hamas. In reality, this was a regional and global alliance against the Palestinian resistance with the hoped for plan to end their defiance and move toward a new alignment centered on further fomentation of Shia-Sunni confrontation with Israel becoming a key ally in this phase. Removing Palestine as a point of tension would facilitate a smoother transition into a new and improved post-colonial regional conflict pitting Sunni and Shia against one another for the next 50 years. Killing each other, selling oil to fund their wars and buying Western made weapons to do it: the business of war is business and keeping the wheels of the military industrial complex running at a high speed.
Palestine has always served as a unifying force with the ability of disrupting such regional plans and it is this capacity that sets at the heart of the current assault supported by all the major regional and global powers. The ice cream refrigerator for the children in Gaza is symbolic of the attempts directed at freezing the future prospects of the Arab and Muslim world and with it the continued support for despotic regimes and the Israeli colonial structure. America’s apple pie is set at the wrong side of history and all the resources used to prop-up Israel’s death machine will only delay the inevitable: freedom, liberty, dignity for the Palestinians and an end to the despotic post-colonial structures in the region. The shift is already underway and the time to join the Palestinian freedom train is today.