The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center is co-sponsoring two important events, both held on the CU campus, about the seemingly interminable Palestine-Israel conflict. At 7 p.m. Sunday in Hellems 252, the noted Palestinian peace activist George Rishmawi, a resident of the West Bank community of Beit Sahour, will speak on "A Nonviolent Road to Peace and Justice for Palestinians and Israelis." At 7 p.m. Wednesday in Visual Art Complex 1B20, author Max Blumenthal will present and answer questions about "Killing Gaza," a documentary film he and Dan Cohen made about the Israel's destruction of the Gaza Strip.
"Killing Gaza" is a follow-up to Blumenthal's harrowing book "The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance and Gaza," which details Israel's brutal 51-day assault upon the 141-square-mile Gaza Strip in 2014. Israel's assault upon Gaza, code named Operation Protective Edge, killed well over 2,000 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians and many of whom were children. The Gaza Strip is a virtual outdoor prison to over 1.8 million people, most of whom are less than 18 years old. It is one of the most densely populated places on Earth and has been blockaded since 2007, when the people of Gaza democratically elected a militant Islamic government. Among many other restrictions, Israel allows only a bare-minimum food supply to reach Gaza.
The 51-day war was Israel's third major assault upon Gaza. Operation Cast Lead of 2008-09 killed about 1,400 Palestinians, and Operation Pillar of Defense killed more than 400. Israel conducted all three attacks with sophisticated American weapons — F-16 fighter planes, Merkawa tanks, DIME explosives — and Israeli casualities were a tiny fraction (under one-50th) of Palestinian deaths. The three major Israeli assaults have pulverized the infrastructure of Gaza, rendered about a quarter of the population homeless, caused insoluble power and sanitation problems, and traumatized a huge number of children. Israeli military leaders cynically refer these periodic attacks upon Gaza as "mowing the grass."
The Gaza ordeal stems from Israel's 1948 expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians, about a quarter of whom were forced into the tiny Gaza Strip. Israel seized, without compensation, the land cultivated for centuries by the expelled Palestinian community. Today, 80 percent of Gaza's population are refugees denied admission to Israel merely because they not Jewish. Palestinian resistance to this monumental injustice, aided and abetted by the U.S., has never ceased.
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) like to describe themselves as "the most moral army on earth." One of the most revealing chapters of Max Blumenthal's book concerns the battle of Shujaiya, a densely populated suburb of Gaza attacked by Israeli soldiers on July 19, 2014. Encountering much stiffer and better-organized Palestinian resistance than anticipated, the IDF high command, forsaking any distinction between combatants and civilians, "let loose an artillery barrage that engulfed the entire area in a storm of explosive rain." The devastating barrage killed 120 residents, injured hundreds more and reduced Shujaiya to a moonscape rubble.
This torrent of death and destruction was no aberration. It was rather a systematic application of the so-called Dahiya Doctrine, named after a suburb of Beirut obliterated by Israel in 2006 and now the declared policy of the IDF. According to the Dahiya Doctrine, the Israeli Defense Forces impose harsh collective punishment upon civilians deemed sympathetic to guerrilla fighters. The putative object of this cruel strategy is making civilians turn against the guerrillas. But military history shows that collective punishment — no matter how ruthless — rarely has this effect. It merely accelerates the murderous carnage of warfare and deepens the criminality of the perpetrator, in this case the IDF.
For more on Shujaiya, the Dahiya Doctrine and related topics, watch "Killing Gaza" and hear Max Blumenthal on Wednesday.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.