"Injecting realism" from 30,000 feet
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Stephen King writes in his 7th January 2009 Irish Examiner article, "Government line on Gaza suggests we have forgotten our own history": The "Palestinians' need to destroy Israel is still stronger, it seems, than their need to build Palestine."
He then asserts, without qualification or critical analysis, the Israeli imposed narrative framing the recent invasion of Palestine:
"The fact that Palestinian rockets rained (and rain) down on southern Israel poses questions for both sides...What sort of organisation is Hamas that it practically invites retaliation?"
We wrote in response:
I OBJECT strongly to Steven King's column (January 7). The distortion of fact and history that it embodies is astounding.
To take just one glaring example, Hamas did not break the recent ceasefire - Israel did when it killed six people in November at the end of what had been six months of serious attempts by Hamas to engage in a dialogue and during which time Gazans were still coping with horrendous living conditions imposed on them by Israel.
As with Iran and the US, Hamas have repeatedly sought to enter into genuine negotiation and dialogue - they are not the evil, and essentially racist 'terrorists' of popular caricature.
It is now apparent that Israel was planning this murderous assault throughout the recent ceasefire and then engineered a provocation which they knew Hamas and the Palestinians, strained beyond human endurance, were more than likely to respond to - unless it is the view of sane, rational people that the Palestinians should simply roll over and die for the convenience of Israel's expansionist objectives in the region. If King is going to write about the situation he at least ought to get his facts right and not, as it seems, rely exclusively on press releases and information emanating from the IDF or similar sources.
Israel is a country founded on a lie as even its first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, tacitly acknowledged before he died.
The suggestion that the Palestinians and their democratically elected government, Hamas, are responsible for Israel's violence towards them is unforgivable.
Miriam Cotton [The Irish Examiner, 14th January 2009]
To which a counter letter was posted:
IN her letter (January 14), Miriam Cotton claimed Steven King’s column (January 7) on Israeli actions in Gaza embodied an astounding “distortion of fact and history”.
However, her letter was so full of such distortions and inaccuracies that I had great trouble finding even one 'fact' that was correct.
The only one that could be justified was this: "To take just one glaring example, Hamas did not break the recent ceasefire" but that was not, as she continued, because "Israel did when it killed six people in November at the end of what had been six months of serious attempts by Hamas to engage in a dialogue".
The fact is the ceasefire had never really existed since there was hardly a day when Hamas or its surrogates did not fire several Kassam rockets at clearly civilian targets such as the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon — not just "the occasional rocket fire from the more extreme groups in Gaza" as Eamon Dyas has claimed (Letters, January 14).
Perhaps if Ms Cotton is going to write about the situation she at least ought to get her facts right and not, as it seems, rely exclusively on press releases and information emanating from Palestinian or similar sources.
Martin D Stern [The Irish Examiner, 23rd January 2009]
To which we replied:
IN his letter (January 23) Martin Stern accuses me of having incorrectly asserted that Hamas was not responsible for breaking the recent ceasefire that resulted in the bloody Israeli assault on Gaza.
As with your columnist Steven King before him, Mr Stern will need to do some checking himself.
Israel ended that ceasefire with the killing of six Palestinians - a ceasefire which, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Hamas was careful to maintain".
The ministry said "the lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shellfire carried out by rogue terrorist organisations", but it was "in some instances in defiance of Hamas".
Not only was Hamas careful to maintain the ceasefire but they were in good faith trying their best to prevent others from breaking it.
Meanwhile, unknown to Hamas (who are the democratically elected government of Palestine by a landslide majority in internationally observed elections), Israel was planning a detailed campaign of assault on Gaza.
In an interview with a More4 journalist, Mark Regev, a spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted Israel knew and had officially recorded the fact that Hamas had not broken the ceasefire, saying that "between June and November only 20 rockets were fired from Gaza and by organisations other than Hamas".
He also confirmed that the documentary evidence from the Israeli foreign ministry described above was correct. Mr Stern can access the More4 archives on the internet to see that interview for himself - he need not take my word for it. The simple fact is that the attack on Gaza by Israel was premeditated and unprovoked - its objective was to destroy the civil infrastructure of Gaza such as schools, mosques and police stations, which it has done with appalling loss of life and injury inflicted on a virtually defenceless and trapped population.
How much longer must the Palestinians be made to suffer these assaults from Israel while the world wrings its hands and invents justifications for them?
Do Palestinians not enjoy a right to self-defence against violently enforced dispossession from their homes and lands and against punishing blockades?
What would the reaction be if they had attempted to reclaim one of the illegal Israeli settlements using similar methods to Israel’s?
Why is it one law for the Israelis and another altogether for the Palestinians?
Miriam Cotton [The Irish Examiner, 28th January 2009]
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