Massive Protests in London, Barcelona

Some videoblogging for a snowy Sunday (where I am).

Israel renewed its strikes and shelling against targets in densely-populated Gaza on Sunday morning. Some 850 Gazans and 13 Israelis have been killed in the fighting.

Cameraman films death of younger brother (CNN). Warning: graphic:

There was a little-covered demonstration in Washington DC that addressed president-elect Obama and asked for a change in policy.

A protest culture around Gaza is growing up in the West of some sophistication, as exemplified in this professional and touching performance by musician Michael Heart :

A wave of street protests swept Europe and the Middle East on Saturday. Personally, I don’t think these events are very effective, though they can help with networking and social solidarity. They won’t cause significant changes in Israeli policy. Setting up an effective counter to the Israel and military-industrial lobbies on Capitol Hill, now that would make a big difference.

Still, the scale of the protests is breathtaking.

100,000 protesters came out in London on Sunday against Israel’s war on the civilians of Gaza.

About 20,000 protested in front of the Israeli embassy, and some elements of that crowd became unruly, as this video from ITN explains:

BBC has video of how things went bad in that particular section of the event.. The announcer noticed British Jews and even expatriate Israelis at the rally, who joined in disgust at what the Israeli government is doing.

Singer Annie Lennox was among the speakers on Saturday:

She called what is happening a genocide. If one thinks of genocide as large numbers of people being killed, as in Rwanda or Cambodia, then her terminology seems exaggerated. But a case could be made that she used the right word.

Contemporary international legal thinking on genocide does consider destroying the lifeways of a people to be in this category. Here is the UN definition:

‘ In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part . . . ‘

That what the Israeli government is doing is intended to destroy in part the Palestinians as an independent people seems to me incontestable.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz considered what Saddam Hussein did to the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq in draining their swamps and expelling them to slums around Basra and Amara to be one of the reasons an Iraq War needed to be fought. I can’t see any particular difference between what Saddam did to the Marsh Arabs and what Israel did to the Palestinians who became refugees in Gaza and who are now under bombardment again.

At our Global Affairs blog, see the columns on Gaza by Dick Norton and Farideh Farhi; Farhi’s is “Israel, Gaza War, Return of “Emboldened Iran,” and Obama.”

Jean-Baptiste Gallopin argues in a French op-ed for Liberation that the Israelis are destroying the civic infrastructure of Gaza, including police stations and municipal buildings, that will ensure that chaos reigns when Israeli troops withdraw. He is right. None of us can understand why a country would want to create chaos right on its borders.

Prominent British Jews are calling for a ceasefire.

David Rose has discovered documents demonstrating that the summer, 2007 break of Fatah with Hamas was orchestrated by the Bush administration after the two had finally achieved a national unity government that January. The plan was later doctored to make it look like it was all coming from Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

For other takes on Gaza see Helena Cobban, Marc Lynch, and Joshua Landis, among others (see my Friends and Interlocutors on the right).

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Oooops, this part of the first draft of the posting was an older video coming out of an operation in Bethlehem. Sorry for the error.

CBC reports on Israeli military killing of civilians with Israeli army footage that Israeli television leaked. It shows the killing of a mother of two. There is touching footage of a young girl trying not to show the enemy her tears. Israeli soldiers appear to have delayed an ambulance from coming in time to save her. One of the Israeli soldiers says “I don’t know what we are doing here. Purification maybe. It’s dirty here. I don’t know why a good Hebrew boy should be here so far from his home.”

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