A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 28 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)
Recently, some of us at One Utah have been engaged in a fruitless rhetorical pissing contest with Richard Okelberry (I use R.O. for short). According to R.O. this blog is a “hate group” that ought to be “disbanded and shut down.”
In particular, R.O. claims I am anti-Jewish because I criticized Israel for its merciless, indiscriminate 23-day attack on the people of Gaza last December and January, and equated it with terrorism. He does not know me personally, and I don’t think he has even paid much attention to what I wrote. It was just a cheap smear, an attempt to make unwelcome facts go away by taking a poorly-aimed potshot at one messenger.
These facts are here to stay. The 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict was so one-sided that it’s often referred to as the “Gaza massacre.” An estimated 1,370 or more Palestinians died in the conflict. The Israeli side lost 13 dead, four due to accidental friendly fire.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that the Gaza Strip operation caused a severe humanitarian crisis due to the destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure. More than 50,800 Gazans were left homeless. Even though 80 percent of the population cannot support themselves and are dependent on humanitarian assistance, Israeli continues to maintain a blockade that prevents adequate food and supplies from getting through.
Independent war crimes investigators and journalists have documented sickening horrors that I won’t describe here. The Guardian has a page detailing what’s known so far.
People have a right to get exercised about what they regard as “hate speech,” whether it’s Glenn Beck or some part-time bloggers. Meanwhile, remember B. Traven’s famous admonition:
“This is the real world, muchachos, and you are in it.”
UPDATE: The U.N. Human Rights Council has initiated a formal war crimes investigation of the Gaza operation. The investigation is being led by Richard Goldstone, a widely respected South African judge and former chief U.N. prosecutor of war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The impartial investigation will document violations of the Law of Land Warfare by both sides in the conflict.