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Don't Miss These Brilliant Essays on Gaza

A quick guide to some of the best essays on Israel's assault on Gaza and the larger questions posed by the recent violence.
 
 
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The events in Gaza have resulted in the producution of more media than any one person could digest in a lifetime. And since few of us have more than a small part of the day to learn about what's going on, it's almost certain that you might have missed some of the absolutely superb essays written in recent weeks that give the big picture.

Here's a quick guide to some of the best essays I've read on Gaza and the larger questions posed by the recent violence.

Israeli Uri Avnery in CounterPunch argues that after witnessing the events in Gaza, even through the distorted lens of televised mass media, "seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a bloodstained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for [Israel's] long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet."

Chris Hedges has a sublime touch when it comes to writing about the insanity we are capable of when warmaking consumes a society. We all saw, and most of us, if you believe the polls, personally experienced this madness most recently during the onset of the U.S. invasion in Iraq. In his latest essay, in TruthDig, "The Language of Death," Hedges writes,

"[T[he assault on Gaza is about creating squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos where life for Palestinians will be barely sustainable. It is about building ringed Palestinian enclaves where Israel will always have the ability to shut off movement, food, medicine and goods to perpetuate misery. The Israeli attack on Gaza is about building a hell on earth. This attack is the final Israeli push to extinguish a Palestinian state and crush or expel the Palestinian people. The images of dead Palestinian children, lined up as if asleep on the floor of the main hospital in Gaza, are a metaphor for the future. Israel will, from now on, speak to the Palestinians in the language of death. And the language of death is all the Palestinians will be able to speak back."

Naomi Klein makes the case in The Nation that Israel should become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to South Africa's apartheid, calling for boycotts.

Bill Moyers argued forcefully last week in his PBS show, Bill Moyers Journal, "[B]rute force can turn self-defense into state terrorism. It's what the U.S. did in Vietnam with B-52s and napalm, and again in Iraq, with shock and awe. By killing indiscriminately -- the elderly, kids, entire families, by destroying schools and hospitals -- Israel did exactly what terrorists do and exactly what Hamas wanted. It spilled the blood that turns the wheel of retribution." [Transcript here]

Stephen Zunes has written three comprehensive articles for AlterNet covering America's role in tampering in Palestinian politics to support a hard-right agenda for Israel, Democrats' utter complicity supporting Bush's policies that made the latest assault on Gaza possible, and most recently, an account of how Democratic congressional leaders are advancing a radical view of international law that would allow powerful countries to get away with war crimes.

Suzanne Maneh recounts for New America Media the story of a 78-year-old Palestinian expat, who wanted to remain anonymous, who was forced to flee Palestine 60 years ago. And Laila Al-Arian shares in "My Grandpa Lives in Gaza" what it's like to have a relative living in a war zone.

War Nerd Gary Brecher, at eXiledonline, has written two important essays looking at the current culture of warfare in light of the Gaza attacks, explaining why militarily superior countries don't just wipe their enemies off the map like they used to, before 1945:

We live in the hangover after a wild night, the first half of the 20th century. That was a binge to end all binges, an era of great, total, merciless warfare. Everybody thinks of the Western Front in the First World War when they think of total war, but there were plenty of other fronts just as merciless, just as brutal, like the Russian civil war or the Greek-Turkish war in western Anatolia, which was even nastier, if that's possible, than the Russian fighting. No quarter asked or given on either side. [Brecher's second essayexplains why the assault on Gaza in 2009 won't be a repeat of Lebanon in 2006]

Former President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed sharing his view on the necessary path to peace through negotiations. And Ira Chernus in Foreign Policy in Focus shares what is almost a secret history of a peace that could have been with Yasser Arafat, if Israel had gone ahead and allowed it: "All of the suffering in Gaza -- indeed, all of the suffering endured by Palestinians under Israeli occupation for the last eight years -- could have been avoided if Israel negotiated a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat when it had the chance, in 2001."

Jan Frel is AlterNet's senior editor.