We are hardly deaf to the prominent voices of the liberal blogosphere; neither are we oblivious to their critics on the left. In particular, writers who consistently offered scathing condemnation of evil policies enacted during the Bush administration lost all credibility when they utterly failed to criticize the same evil policies under Obama — or worse, began defending them. I still read some of those writers, but with a jaundiced eye: I find that they frequently make insightful or informative points, but since 2009 I am no longer under the illusion that these are people who object to evil on principle. Put another way, I may visit their Palaces from time to time but I would never trust them with the keys to my own. Or with children.
And so it was that I came across David O. Atkins’ recent piece at digby’s blog, which I read with accelerating horror and disgust. Although he does not deign to say it, it was written in response to this post by Chris Floyd (whose Palace we find very much to our liking, and would not fear for the safety of any small children residing there). The good Mr. Floyd had written about the deafening silence of leading progressive bloggers on the slaughter in Gaza, which I excerpt here at some length (although I urge you to go read the whole thing):
It sure was a quiet weekend in the progressive blogosphere, where peace, justice and the alleviation of human suffering is an earnest, burning concern. At Eschaton, Atrios gave an amiable shrug and declared, “I got nothing to say.” Digby and her co-pilot, David Atkins, did have a few things to say — about Sarah Palin, General Pants-Down Petraeus, the grubby “Grand Bargaining” in the Beltway, and several examples of the stupidity and perfidy of right-wing Republicans. The posters at Daily Kos plied the same themes.
But even for those who didn’t got nothing to say, it was all very much in a low-key, mopping-up, post-election mode. It seemed as if there were no major news events going on anywhere in the world that involved the violent, unjust infliction of human suffering, with the direct monetary, military and political support of United States government and its entire bipartisan political and media establishments. Nothing that might grab the attention — even in passing — of writers publicly and professionally dedicated to discussing and analyzing major news events involving American policy, politics and the media.
Anything like that going on this weekend? Anyone? Digby, Dave? No? Kos and the gang? Anything? Atrios?
Nope. They got nothing.
Not on Friday. Not on Saturday. Not by Sunday evening (as I write this).
If you were a follower of many of the major “progressive” bloggers, you could have passed the weekend blissfully unaware that the American-armed, American-backed Israeli military was busily raining death into the cramped and crowded concentration camp of Gaza. Children dying, old people being blown to bits in their houses, the Israeli government ordering a massive call-up of troops and reserves for a possible invasion; top officials from Egypt and Tunisia flying into the besieged camp to show solidarity, mass demonstrations across the Middle East, some meeting with violent repression, others threatening to escalate into revolutionary outpourings. On every side: death, turmoil, suffering, chaos, whole nations in ferment — and Barack Obama standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Benjamin Netanyahu in defending assassination, aggression and the bombardment of defenseless civilians with massive military force.
As everyone reading this well knows, the Palace currently operates as a strictly VIP operation: Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ do not an A-List progressive blogger make. (We prefer to think of our readership as exceptionally discerning.) Still, we were more than a little stung by Floyd’s criticism. After all, we too had remained silent.
Not out of cowardice or amoral indifference mind you, but at least in part from sheer, wanton laziness exacerbated by our rather notorious capriciousness — which vices look positively virtuous next to the aforementioned failings, I would add in my defense. Nor did I avoid the topic of Gaza out of a sense of complicit guilt. Such guilt, I strongly suspect, accounts for the silence on the part of Atkins, Kos, and the rest of the A-list prog bloggers who actively campaigned to reelect Barack Obama. But as Loyal Readers know, I did not vote for Barack Obama. Indeed, I deployed every weapon in the Palace arsenal in an effort to convince others to desert him in droves. And I hope that this is not interpreted as some smug sense of vindication on my part, but in that series of posts (and elsewhere) I have said all I could think of to say about the unconscionable evil that is U.S. foreign policy, under Bush and now Obama. Watching it play out this week in Gaza (again) I noted with a grave weariness that the details change, but the story arc never does. Nor, apparently, does the blood-soaked self-deceit of the American public. I do not feel vindicated: I feel saddened, sickened, and, more troubling to me than anything else, resigned. That is about as uninspired a state in which a writer can find herself. And so I remained silent — or perhaps more accurately, distracted myself with other topics. But whatever one might say of my motives, there is no denying this fact: instead of opining on the American-armed, American-backed Israeli military busily raining death into the cramped and crowded concentration camp that is Gaza, I chose to write an insufferably long post about Conservative Personality Disorder and my theory that a hierarchical worldview is the nexus between fiscal and social conservatism. And then I threw a fucking birthday party for Voltaire.
And so I will remedy my omission now.
I do not support Israeli actions against Palestinians. One of those two groups is an impoverished, oppressed minority whose lands were (and are presently being) forcibly taken from them and whose children are stunted from malnutrition due to years of punishing sanctions following a victory by Hamas in a democratic election; the other one is a theocracy backed to the hilt by American military power. And if there is one thing I hate, it’s a goddamn theocracy with heavy artillery.
The notion that Israel is acting in self defense is a lie so enormous it would be hilarious if it were not so deadly. Look at this map [h/t born on the wrong continent]:
How does a defensive action result in the total conquest of someone else’s lands? The answer is that it does not. Israel is the aggressor. The maps of Israel then and now prove it. [source]
I have no love for Hamas, which desires nothing more than its own theocracy with heavy artillery (and as I believe we’ve already established, I fucking hate those). I am certainly no fan of rockets being rained on Israeli civilians, and I condemn such actions by Palestinians or anyone else. But I simply cannot bear Barack Obama, a unanimous U.S. Congress, and the entire U.S. media establishment deliberately ignoring the fact that those rockets were not unprovoked: on November 14, Israeli forces assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the very Hamas minister with whom Israel had been negotiating a long-term peace agreement via a backdoor channel. (Jabari was killed in a targeted airstrike that took out a bunch of innocent civilians too, including the 11-month old son of a BBC cameraman.) As Chris Floyd put it:
In other words, the Netanyahu government deliberately scuttled a deal which would have provided exactly what it says it is seeking. They knew the assassination would kill the deal; they knew it would provoke violent relatiation.
I found illuminating this Op-Ed in The New York Times by Gershon Baskin, who with the knowledge of Israeli security officials had been crafting the negotiated proposal for a long-term cease-fire with Jabari (via an intermediary, the deputy foreign minister of Hamas) at the time he was killed:
In the draft, which I understand Mr. Jabari saw hours before he was killed, it was proposed that Israeli intelligence information transmitted through the Egyptians would be delivered to Mr. Jabari so that he could take action aimed at preventing an attack against Israel.
Moreover, it included the understanding that if Israel were to take out a real ticking bomb — people imminently preparing to launch a rocket — such a strike would not be considered a breach of the cease-fire and would not lead to escalation.
Instead, Mr. Jabari is dead — and with him died the possibility of a long-term cease-fire. Israel may have also compromised the ability of Egyptian intelligence officials to mediate a short-term cease-fire and placed Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt at risk.
This was not inevitable, and cooler heads could have prevailed. Mr. Jabari’s assassination removes one of the more practical actors on the Hamas side.
More from Baskin:
This war is being presented in Israel, once again, as a war of “no choice.” The people of Israel are rallying around the flag as would be expected anywhere in the world. The United States government has voiced its support of the Israeli operation by stating, “Israel has the full right to defend itself and protect its citizens.” It certainly does, but we must ask whether there is another way to achieve the same goal without the use of force.
And if we are not @$$holes, we must also ask why Israel has a right to defend itself but Palestinians do not.
Unlike David Atkins, I do not give a flying fuck if I am deemed a vicious anti-semitic terrorist enabler (or worse) for saying this: I stand squarely on the side of all of the world’s children and its innocent civilians — and the government of Israel is the belligerent, bellicose aggressor in the region. Just like its big, bullying brother, the United States government, which endorses and enables all of it.
But of everything related to the story I so shamelessly avoided writing about this week, this little nugget absolutely takes the cake:
Barack Obama: “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”
Well, except maybe for Yemen. Oh, and Somalia. And Pakistan. Afghanistan. Libya. And now, apparently, Gaza.