Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain
1. Who won? In an immediate military sense, Israel. What do you expect? The Israeli Defense Forces made 2,500 plus F-16 and ‘copter air sorties against a densely populated urban area where the only opposing armed forces possessed no anti-aircraft guns, no surface to air missiles and no planes. It is estimated that repairing the damage suffered by the already desperate inhabitants of this colossal open air prison, the ones who survived, will run over $2 billion. 80% of the agricultural infrastructure of Gaza is reported to have been been destroyed.
Beyond the horrific destruction visited to the Palestinian people, though, the Israelis appear to have picked up a stone only to drop it on their own feet. They will have an uphill slog in the battle for summation, with direct political consequences in increased isolation as sympathy and even material support from people around the world flow to Gaza.
2. Despite careful timing–to take advantage of reduced attention to news during the Christian holiday season and to finish before administration change in the US–Israeli aggression caught world attention. Some analysts have pointed out that Israel dominated the “war of words,” banning foreign journalists from Gaza and working to see that discourse was laced with terms like terrorism, Islamic fundamentalists, security and the like. However, it decisively lost “the war of images” as photos and video provided by the Palestinian news agency Ramattan appeared on al-Jazeera and other news outlets, even CNN. This showed the people of the world the carnage, and the agony of those still living, and it documented IDF attacks on homes, schools, hospitals, mosques and UN facilities.
3. At the level of international government, Israel pretty much got a free ride at first, due in part to splits among Palestinians and between Arab states, and in part to US intransigence in blocking meaningful action in the UN Security Council. But while governments started out largely sitting on their hands, an unprecedented outpouring of mass anger and protest in country after country forced institutions like the news media and the international Red Cross and then governments to speak up in criticism of Israel. (Still, only Venezuela and Bolivia broke ties with Israel over the attack).
Three choice examples of the popular struggle, from Europe alone:
Norway, where over 85 pro-Palestinian protests and broader peace marches took place in 59 towns (in a country of 4.5 million!), saw the most intense rioting in recent memory in central Oslo as police tried to repress militant young protestors. (See the nifty interactive map–in English–from Frontlinjer magazine here.)
In the United Kingdom, even after the truce/ceasefire, students at sixteen (16, count ’em, 16) universities seized campus buildings around a series of anti-Israel and pro-Palestine demands. Most are still on. Students at the London School of Economics and Oxford report victories in negotiations with administrators.
In Greece, a January 9 news story from Reuters sent Greek activists and bloggers into research mode. They were able to identify a contracted shipment of GBU-39 bunker buster bombs scheduled to go from Sunny Point, NC through the port of Astakos en route to Israel. They started organizing for an embargo of US and Israeli shipping including outreach to dockworkers. By the 16th, one week later, the contract was cancelled!
4. In the United States, the astonishing power of the Israel lobby once again gave it unchallenged sway in the media and government. The Senate passed by unanimous voice vote and the House with a total of 5 courageous Nays (Dennis Kucinich, Gwen Moore, Maxine Waters, Nick Rahall and Ron Paul) a resolution hailing the aggression and blaming Hamas for all the Palestinian deaths. Candidate Obama last July signaled his stance, saying, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” (No one in the media asked him about whether he had stolen his house at gunpoint and was keeping the former residents and their children in a concentration camp in his back yard.)
Considering the propaganda barrage and the “conventional wisdom” in the very air we breathe here, the fact that Americans generally (according to a Rasmussen poll) “are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip” (44-41%, with 15% undecided) and that non-Republicans oppose it solidly is a remarkable development.