New York Times: more photos of Gaza operation
Via Glenn Greenwald. Tom Friedman, one of the nation’s leading propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, praises the Israeli attack on Gaza in today’s New York Times (emphasis added):
In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.
[Note: in the updates below, the death toll in Gaza so far is reported as approximately 1,000, of whom 330 or so may have been Hamas fighters. That’s less than two percent of the estimated 20,000 fighters commanded by Hamas in Gaza– far from the “heavy death toll” Friedman thinks Israel is trying to inflict.]
Greenwald points out that Friedman is in fact cheerleading for a strategy that meets the definition of terrorism. Here is how terrorism is defined in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d): [Link to USC provided for context, after comment pointed out the omission]
The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets…
At a pro-Israel rally in New York recently, Senator Chuck Schumer highlighted Israel’s supposed humanitarian methods of warfare by pointing to its text messaging of certain Gaza Strip residents urging them to vacate their homes before Israeli forces bombed them. “What other country would do that?” Schumer shouted from the podium.
What would Schumer say if someone phoned him in the middle of the night threatening to blow up his house? Would he call it terrorism?
Updates in the continuation of this post…
UPDATE:Matt Yglesias weighs in on Friedman’s endorsement of terrorism:
This in much the same way that Osama bin Laden sought to “educate” American civilians about the price to be paid for supporting corrupt oil monarchies by killing people who happened to be in a prominent skyscraper …Friedman is positing a much sicker rationale for military action than its actual initiators have been willing to articulate.
UPDATE: Today the death toll of Gaza residents reached 1,000, including an estimated 670 noncombatants. More rockets launched from Lebanon hit northern Israel– the IDF responded with artillery fire.
UPDATE: New York Times: Israeli Rights Groups Call for War Crimes Inquiry.
“This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes,” the groups said in their first news conference on the 19-day-old war.
And yes, they were referring to the IDF’s assault on Gaza.
Israel is likely trying to get Hamas—as well as the Palestinian people—on a war footing before Obama takes office, heading off at the pass a potential pro-Palestine intervention or even a substantial shift in policy by the new administration.
UPDATE: Israeli 155 mm artillery pounds United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza. WP rounds set the compound on fire, destroying the U.N.’s central distribution facility for food and medicine. Story and video. Israeli PM Olmert has apologized for this particular fire mission. Over at Danger Room, Nathan Hodge tries to sort out if this was an accident of war or a deliberate attempt to destroy the UNRWA facility.
UPDATE: This all started with Glenn Greenwald, so let’s give him the last word before moving on:
To follow up on the Tom Friedman claim from yesterday that Hamas will lose support if Israel kills enough Palestinian civilians, The New York Times today reports that “The more bombs in Gaza, the more Hamas’s support seems to be growing at the expense of the Palestinian Authority.” This was the (self-evident) point made so well yesterday by Daniel Larison: if a foreign power drops lots of bombs on a population (to say nothing of stories like this and this), they tend to become more hostile to those doing the bombing and more supportive of their own leaders, especially if those leaders vow retribution against the attackers. As Jonathan Schwarz recalls, Tom Friedman’s own demented reaction to the 9/11 attacks illustrates exactly how that dynamic works.
UPDATE: OK, this is really the last update. Israeli President Shimon Peres deserves the last word, as he confirms that the objective of the Gaza operation is collective punishment, something Friedman only speculated about.