I don't usually talk about things I know nothing about, but then I'm not the Sydney Morning Herald editorialist. Take the Herald's editorial of 24/1/08, Luckless Gaza's grim prognosis, for example.
"Luckless"? Rather than being the victims of a monstrous and cold-blooded crime against humanity, the 'strangled', 'starved', and 'brutalised' people of the Gaza Strip are merely the victims of fate! Israel is always the innocent bystander in these matters.
"Israel's decision to ease its...blockade of the...Palestinian enclave, which has been ruled by the extremist Hamas movement since last June, was sensible." "Extremist"? A weasel word. And hypocritical to boot.
A fanatical movement of European settlers, possessed by the idea of carving an exclusive ethno-religious state out of a non-European land (despite the opposition of its indigenous population), secures the backing of the day's imperial bully, and under the protection of its bayonets, moves in uninvited. After reaching critical mass, it overuns 78% of said land, dispossessing 85% of the indigenous population in the process. And then, having secured a new imperial patron, it goes on to overun and occupy the remaining 22%, which it proceeds to settle at a rate of knots, shooting and caging the natives in the process. Now that's about as extreme as it can get for any people. And yet, the indigenous resistance to that actual extremist force is branded "extremist"?
Israel, note, is deemed "sensible" in "easing" its blockade of Gaza, not 'criminal' or 'extreme' in initiating it, but "sensible", as in, when you've knocked your victim to the ground, leapt on top of him, seized him by the throat, and squeezed till your arms hurt, you loosen your grip just enough to prevent him from expiring, so you're not up on a murder rap.
"[T]he cynical Hamas tactic of encouraging Palestinian fighters to maintain a haphazard barrage of homemade missiles on nearby Israeli civilian targets has worked, prompting an all too typical and counterproductive, Israeli overreaction." Not only "extremist," but "cynical" as well! Of course, it is beyond the bounds of permitted discourse for the SMH to accuse the Israelis of cynicism, but a more informed and acute observer, such as Israeli peace activist, Uri Avnery, knows cynicism when he sees it: "If the Qassams were really bothering our political and military leaders, they would have jumped at the [December 07 Hamas] cease-fire offer. But the leaders don't really care about what's happening to the Sderot population, out on the geographical and political 'periphery', far from the centre of the country. It carries no political or economic weight. In the eyes of the leadership, its suffering is, all in all, tolerable. It also has an important positive side: it provides an ideal pretext for the actions of the army. The Israeli strategic aim in Gaza is not to put an end to the Qassams. It would still be the same if not a single Qassam fell on Israel. The real aim is to break the Palestinians, which means breaking Hamas." [Help! A Cease-fire! 22/12/07] To acknowledge that Israel's behaviour is both cynical and criminal would also mean breaking free of the mendacious 'Palestinians initiate/Israel only ever retaliates' formula that is part of the received 'wisdom' of msm coverage of the issue.
Still, a faint, inchoate awareness emerges at the beginning of the final sentence: "The hard fact is that there can be no settlement until Hamas is invited into the game...", but is completely undone by the rest: "...and it refuses to play except on its own, unacceptable terms."
Let's look at Hamas' "unacceptable terms." Practically speaking, Hamas constitutes no real threat to Israel. To pretend that it is, or could ever be, is frankly laughable. Israel simply uses such talk to delude its people and maintain a pretext for endless war with the Palestinians in an effort to realise the old Zionist dream (Palestinian nightmare) of a Greater Israel, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. This is why Israel has never expressed any interest in the idea of a hudnah (truce), despite Hamas' leaders repeated offers of same. As Azzam Tamimi, Palestinian founder of London's Institute of Islamic Political Thought, and author of Hamas: Unwritten Chapters (2007) has written: "The general and long-term hudnah proposed by Hamas stipulates as a first condition an Israeli withdrawal to the borders of 4 June 1967, which means the return of all the land occupied by the Israelis as a result of the six-day war including East Jerusalem. This would entail the removal of all Jewish settlers from those areas. In addition, Israel would have to release all Palestinians held in its prisons and detention camps. It is highly unlikely that Hamas would settle for anything less, in exchange for a long term truce that could last for a quarter of a century or longer." [p 159]
So, an end to bloodshed and a full and complete withdrawal from the 22% of Palestine illegally occupied and settled by Israel in 1967 is "unacceptable?" But what did Arafat or Abbas ever get out of being "invited" into a "game," played on Israel's "own, unacceptable" terms? Only a role in policing the Palestinian people on Israel's behalf so that it could get on with its core business: swallowing Palestinian land while spitting out its inhabitants.