Saturday, February 14, 2009

To the Editor: Woodstock Times

I am writing in response to the letter from The Jewish Federation of Ulster County in your last issue, which I strongly suspect was not written in Kingston. It reflects perfectly the Israeli position, crowing over its impunity in imagined "victory" over a helpless population, half-starved and deprived of clean water, sewage disposal, medicine, electricity, half of whose children are now anaemic with signs of malnutrition, packed into a walled-in concentration camp - an absolutely unequal fight popular opinion here spontaneously calls "shooting fish in a barrel". But these are human beings, children, women, men, civilians, doctors, ambulance drivers, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, grandparents, attacked not just with armor and jets, but with white phosphorus, depleted uranium, and with Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), with no place to run to shelter. This letter reflects no awareness of the suffering caused.

The campaign against Gaza is now the subject of the greatest Israeli propaganda campaign in Israel's history. Certainly, in a large part of the American and world public who have hoped for better or have not previously been following the news, Israel has reaped a harvest of revulsion and loathing that no frantic propaganda campaign can erase.

So where is the victory? The feeble rockets continue, demonstrating that David has in fact survived Goliath, which reinforces Hamas's backing. Israel is likely to repeat the slaughter. And why is Israel doing this?

One of the world's leading political psychologists, the Israeli David Bar Tal, has done a study called "Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with the Palestinians?" Hebrew title: "What do Jews in Israel know about the conflict with the Palestinians?" He says that Israeli Jews' consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering. He and his partner say those with a "Zionist memory" see Israel and the Jews as the victims in the conflict, and don't support agreements or compromises with the Palestinians to obtain peace; they note that changes to eliminate bias and indoctrination in the teaching of the conflict would help.

The esteemed London professor, author and psychoanalyst Jacqueline Rose, who is Jewish, puts it this way: : "(criticism) is in no way to diminish the traumatic impact of the Holocaust but to register it all the more powerfully. The effect of trauma is precisely to freeze people in time. There is a psychological dimension to this conflict that seems almost impossibly difficult to shift. In its own eyes, Israel is never the originator and agent of is own violence, and to that extent its violence is always justified. The Palestinians do not count. Even when the worst of what has been done to them is registered inside Israel, it is still the Israeli who suffers more."

So peace must come from strong outside intervention. George Mitchell is a good person for that. Even though Abraham Foxman told Obama "He is very fair, very even-handed. But that is not the kind of person we need in this situation." It is time for Americans to support a change in policy, and to strongly back a "fair, even-handed' person, to stop the siege of Gaza, and to insist all sides be listened to, including Hamas, in a wide dialogue, to achieve peace.


Sheila Finan

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