For your consideration: Jimmy Carter on ending the war in Gaza

An article from Foreign Policy

Ending this war in Gaza begins with recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political actor

I know. Right off the bat, even the idea of recognizing Hamas rankles. Here’s the thing, though. In 2006, as a result of a thoroughly monitored election, the people put Hamas in power. That is the definition of self determination. That is the definition of legitimate political actor. The hazard of democracy, especially when it works, is that we won’t like who the people put in charge. If we can’t live with those outcomes, then we just need to accept that we really don’t care for democracy at all. Further, that what we do believe in is hegemony of one people, one culture, over others. Naturally, that would mean ours and not theirs. This, in spite of the fact that anyone would be hard pressed to seriously and legitimately make the case that we are one people, one culture, and that our chosen version of that should be the one that calls the shots.

Having read a fair bit of the news surrounding this latest outbreak in massive, asymmetrical violence, I can only sympathize with the position President Carter takes in this piece. Disregard it if you will, but in the interest of truth and justice, at least spare him and the Palestinian people the few moments of your day it would take to read this article. That’s not much to ask in exchange for nearly 2,000 dead. At least then, when you oppose the position, you’ll know exactly which points you oppose. I trust you’ll then take the time to identify reliable sources that support your opposition to those points with which you disagree.

Some highlights:

Since pro-Israeli voices, typically not known for giving the opposition the time of day from what I’ve seen, like to talk about provocation, consider this:

This tragedy results from the deliberate obstruction [ed note: by Israel] of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members [emphasis added]. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza [emphasis added].

In light of justifications for Israel’s decidely one-sided and heavy handed assault on Gaza predicated on Israel’s right to self-defense, I’d also like to offer this observation. Those pro-Israel voices tend to be either Jewish or Christian. Last I checked, Mosaic law expressly forbids killing, notwithstanding the long history of divinely inspired slaughter both Jews and Christians have engaged in for centuries, at worst because “God ordered it,” at best because of the tortured reasoning leading to so-called just war theory, initially instigated by the Catholic Church in aid of, you guessed it, justifying Christian wars over every sentiment on that matter ever expressed by Jesus. Never mind that whole bit where one of the key points of the New Testament, uncomfortable as this may be, was that Jesus “fulfilled” the law. In doing so, he took the letter of the law and made clear, time and again, that it’s the spirit of that law that matters. Which manner of warfare would Jesus approve? I think none. If you are Christian and endorse this mass slaughter, I think you might need to stop, take a breather, and maybe even pray about it. “Jesus, how should I support the slaughter of anyone? If in no way, what else can we do?” I’ve said it before, and will keep saying it, if the answer to the question is hundreds of dead children, whoever is asking isn’t asking long enough or hard enough. That thing about not being able to serve two masters certainly applies here. You can’t serve “not killing” by serving the powerful war interests. Pick one.

There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides. Hamas’s indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is equally unacceptable. However, three Israeli civilians [emphasis added] have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while an overwhelming majority of the 1,600 Palestinians killed have been civilians, including more than 330 children [emphasis added]. The need for international judicial proceedings to investigate and end these violations of international law should be taken very seriously.

If we can start with those two items, in earnest, then I think one might see their way clear to at least paying heed to the rest of what President Carter has to say. If you disagree, that’s fine and laudable in itself. What do you propose that will stand a chance of stopping the slaughter? If your answer doesn’t accomplish that, then just be honest. It’s neither Christianity nor Judaism that drives your agenda, but nationalism and hegemony. Is that the trade off you mean to make? For non-believers, clearly this line of persuasion has no leg to stand on. In that case, which moral basis do you take to justify the continued slaughter if not the interests of Israeli right-wing nationalism and Western hegemony?

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Imaged credit: Brian Glanz @ flickr.com. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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