Sunday, July 27, 2014

Juan Cole's commentary: A Cease-Fire is Not Enough?

Juan Cole, a Professor of History at University of Michigan, thinks that Israel's goal in Gaza is to take it back. In a July 27 article entitled "Gaza: Why a Cease-Fire is Not Enough",  he writes, "It is frankly stupid to think the Israelis can, in Mitt Romney’s words, kick the can down the road forever on making peace with the Palestinians. It hasn’t tried because Israel wants Palestinian land and resources and won’t give them up."

Mind you, Cole doesn't seem to feel any need to support his assertion; it is true simply because the professor says it is. He has not a single quote from any Israeli leader to support it. He has not a single action in the part of Israel that demonstrates it. All he has is, "I say so."

Professor Cole also seems to be in need of some help with his data. He writes, "Gaza is not a country, that Israel can be at war with it. It is a tiny strip of land surrounded by Israel from land, sea and air, which is kept from exporting its made goods for the most part, faces severe restrictions on imports, and therefore has had imposed on it a 40% or so unemployment rate."

How many mistakes can we find in this passage?
1. Gaza is a country - it has its own government, with authority of taxation, laws and courts, and defense. How do you define "country"?

2. Gaza is not surrounded by Israel - it also has a border with Egypt. Presumably Professor Cole is aware of this? Perhaps he omits it because it's inconvenient to admit that Egypt has also closed its border crossings with Gaza?

3. Gaza is "kept from exporting its made goods for the most part" - Israel permits Gaza to run its exports through Israel, so long as they are not destined for the West Bank.

Why not the West Bank? It may have something to do with articles like this:

December 30, 2005
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was closed for several hours Friday after a Palestinian police protest forced European Union monitors to leave in fear for their safety, authorities said.
In other signs of the chaos in Gaza, a 14-year-old Palestinian was killed Friday when gunmen attacked a police station where their relatives were being held, Palestinian security officials said.
And, no progress was reported in winning the release of three British hostages, kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in Rafah earlier in the week. (Posted 11:55 a.m.)

Or this, from January 3, 2006
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Random kidnappings. Daily exchanges of gunfire between police and armed militants. Different neighborhoods patrolled and controlled by competing militias.
It appears as if Gaza has degenerated into anarchy.
In just the past 10 days in the 146-square-mile territory (about twice the size of Washington, D.C.):
• Three Palestinian government offices were occupied by gunmen.
• Armed militants detonated explosives in a United Nations club.
• Three British nationals were kidnapped at gunpoint.
• An Italian man was abducted.
• Two rival families unloaded weapons at each other in a personal dispute.
• A Palestinian police officer was killed in a shootout between police and militants.
• The Palestinian-controlled border crossing was shut down by police angry at the death of their colleague, prompting European Union monitors to leave.
• Palestinian police took over government offices in their continuing protest.
• Israel launched air strikes on suspected militant targets.
Gaza was not supposed to turn out this way.
Last summer, Israel ended its 38-year military occupation of the area. For the first time in history, Gaza came under Palestinian rule.
No Ottoman Turks, no British mandate, no Egyptian control, no Israeli occupation. And in November, the Palestinian Authority took control over an international border crossing for the first time in history.
But since then, it's the absence of law and order in the territory that's been its most notable feature.

And so on. And yet, it wasn't until 2008 that Israel closed its border with Gaza. If anything has been "imposed", it's been self-imposed.

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