[by Dr. S. Amjad Hussain in today's Blade]
The pivotal question is why Hamas, the ruling Palestinian faction in Gaza, resumed firing rockets into Israel after six months of relative calm following a cease-fire put in place in June.
A cease-fire requires a lack of hostilities between the parties. On Nov. 4, Israel, in clear violation of the cease-fire, went into Gaza and killed six Palestinians who Israel declared were terrorists. That incident and an ongoing siege and blockade of Gaza were enough reasons for Hamas to resume hostilities against Israel. It was retaliation plain and simple. Israel has been preparing for this onslaught for the last six months and chose this time because George W. Bush is still president.
Ever since the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the dismantling of illegal Jewish settlements from Gaza in September, 2005, the area has been under siege. A total blockade has turned this narrow coastal strip of land into a virtual prison where 1.5 million inhabitants depended on the trickle of humanitarian aid allowed by Israel. Mary Robinson, the former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called the ongoing situation in Gaza the destruction of a civilization. Her comments were made during the cease-fire.
In January, 2006, Hamas won elections in Gaza in a fair and impartial vote. The United States had, at the behest of Israel, declared Hamas a terrorist organization. As such, they were denied their legitimate right to govern and to have the cooperation of the international community. If fighting for one's dignity, one's land, and one's freedom is terrorism, then most countries that became independent in the post-colonial era got there through terrorism. Even Israel's establishment as a sovereign state was based on many acts of terrorism against the British and the native Palestinian population. There is an extremely thin line between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. All one has to do is to look at the life of Menachem Begin, a terrorist turned prime minister of Israel.
Why is American foreign policy hostage to Israeli whims? It is for historians and writers such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, former Congressman Paul Findlay, former President Jimmy Carter, writer Norman Finkelstein, etc., to analyze the phenomenon, which they have done at their peril. The question, however, begs for an answer. Why does an Israeli cause become an American cause? And why does a Congress elected by the people of this country become beholden to the interests of a foreign country?
One of my Jewish readers put it succinctly when he said, in private of course, that if he ever raises a voice against Israel policies he will be crucified.