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Fish in a barrel


gazaWith the approximately 1.5 million residents of Gaza confined within a 139 square mile area the article entitled, Israel running out of aerial targets,  kind of makes sense.

Six days in, Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza shows little sign of abating. Israeli warplanes have flown more than 500 sorties, killing over 400 Palestinians and wounding hundreds. Israeli bombs have rained down on Gaza’s 1.5 million people from air and sea.

But with fewer targets left to strike – yesterday Israel bombed a mosque, the education ministry, the transportation ministry as well as the parliament building – a ground invasion would now appear imminent.

The ground invasion will only serve to finish the targetted assassinations the IAF could not complete, a sort of bomb damage assessment operation. The Palestinians are surrounded on all sides; even the southern route is blocked by Egyptians, who it was reported, were eager to shoot at fleeing Palestinians.  What the Israelis are trying to do is provoke the Iranians and others, primarily Hezbollah, into a response which will allow them to widen their war with the help of the US, claiming a multi-war front, and settle old scores, and solidify political party alliances and seats. All spell misery for Palestinians while the world watches a repeat performance of 1939-1945.

My favorite politician, besides Jimmy Carter, Ralph Nader who has been around for ages has weighed in on what’s happening in Gaza with a strong letter to GW Bush. You can read it at Suzy Q’s blog.  Hat tip to ya’.  Let me say in closing Nader is scathing in calling Bush to task.

Confirmed visual reports show that Israeli warplanes and warships have destroyed or severely damaged police stations, homes, hospitals, pharmacies, mosques, fishing boats, and a range of public facilities providing electricity and other necessities.

Why should this trouble you at all? It violates international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. You too have repeatedly violated international law and committed serious constitutional transgressions.

Ouch!

Israeli academics speak out


I mentioned in a previous post how the debate about what’s going on in Gaza is a much more vigorous debate in Israel than it is here in the U.S. and I admitted my own confusion why that’s so.  One aspect of this phenomenon is that rarely the Israeli debate finds its way into American media, so this is my contribution to the exposure of that debate to us here in the mainland, the enablers of Israel’s wars of aggression.

Commenting on the Israeli attack against a Gaza university, two Israeli academics had this to say.

Not one of the nearly 450 presidents of American colleges and universities who prominently denounced an effort by British academics to boycott Israeli universities in September 2007 have raised their voice in opposition to Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza earlier this week. Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, who organized the petition, has been silent, as have his co-signatories from Princeton, Northwestern, and Cornell Universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most others who signed similar petitions, like the 11,000 professors from nearly 1,000 universities around the world, have also refrained from expressing their outrage at Israel’s attack on the leading university in Gaza. The artfully named Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, which organized the latter appeal, has said nothing about the assault.

While the extent of the damage to the Islamic University, which was hit in six separate airstrikes, is still unknown, recent reports indicate that at least two major buildings were targeted, a science laboratory and the Ladies’ Building, where female students attended classes. There were no casualties, as the university was evacuated when the Israeli assault began on Saturday.

Virtually all the commentators agree that the Islamic University was attacked, in part, because it is a cultural symbol of Hamas, the ruling party in the elected Palestinian government, which Israel has targeted in its continuing attacks in Gaza. Mysteriously, hardly any of the news coverage has emphasized the educational significance of the university, which far exceeds its cultural or political symbolism.

Established in 1978 by the founder of Hamas — with the approval of Israeli authorities — the Islamic University is the first and most important institution of higher education in Gaza, serving more than 20,000 students, 60 percent of whom are women. It comprises 10 faculties — education, religion, art, commerce, Shariah law, science, engineering, information technology, medicine, and nursing — and awards a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Taking into account that Palestinian universities have been regionalized because Palestinian students from Gaza are barred by Israel from studying either in the West Bank or abroad, the educational significance of the Islamic University becomes even more apparent.

Those restrictions became international news last summer when Israel refused to grant exit permits to seven carefully vetted students from Gaza who had been awarded Fulbright fellowships by the State Department to study in the United States. After top State Department officials intervened, the students’ scholarships were restored — though Israel allowed only four of the seven to leave, even after appeals by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “It is a welcome victory — for the students,” opined The New York Times, and “for Israel, which should want to see more of Gaza’s young people follow a path of hope and education rather than hopelessness and martyrdom; and for the United States, whose image in the Middle East badly needs burnishing.”

*snip*

By launching an attack on Gaza, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the ones deployed by Hamas — only the Israeli tactics are much more lethal. How should academics respond to this assault on an institution of higher education? Regardless of one’s stand on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities, anyone so concerned about academic freedom as to put one’s name on a petition should be no less outraged when Israel bombs a Palestinian university. The question, then, is whether the university presidents and professors who signed the various petitions denouncing efforts to boycott Israel will speak out against the destruction of the Islamic University.

The answer to the last question is a resounding no. American academics and politicians are silent to the atrocities carried out by the Israeli government and such silence emboldens Israel to continue its slaughter.

Hat tip to Angry Arab News Service for posting this piece.