Phyllis Bennis and Josh Ruebner on Israel’s Gaza Assault

Talk Nation Radio for December 31, 2008

Phyllis Bennis and Josh Ruebner on Israel’s Gaza Assault

Israel has been justifying the Gaza assault as provoked by Hamas violations of the ceasefire facilitated by Egypt. But Israel itself violated the ceasefire in November. Oversights in the US media and analysis of news on Gaza.

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Special Thanks to Middle East Report for putting us in contact with today’s guests.

Produced by Dori Smith, WHUS Radio FM 91.7, a Pacifica Affiliate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT

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We move through several days of news coverage on Israel’s assault on Gaza featuring interviews with Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies and Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Their web page is End the Occupation dot org.

Our coverage on Gaza began with a December 26th interview with UN special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk about dire conditions in Gaza due to Israel’s blockade preventing even humanitarian supplies from being delivered by the UN and other agencies. (See also our interview with Darryl Li on Gaza, legal and political rights remain important despite ongoing stories about hunger, shortages of medical care and fuel here.

-Falk had been detained by Israeli officials when tried to visit the occupied territories. Israeli security services then searched him, put him in a holding center, and finally deported him without regard for his UN status.

-Falk has appealed to the UN Security Council, asking them to pressure Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza to save lives there.

-He also called on the ICC, International Criminal Court, asking them to investigate Israel’s violation of the ceasefire in November. Shortly after that interview aired Israeli troops began bombing Gaza and moved troops and heavy artillery in for a possible ground attack. Between 390 and 400 Palestinians have died in these air attacks with many wounded. On December 28th we turned to Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. to learn more about what was going on.

Phyllis Bennis goes over, ‘The Gaza Emergency,’ her piece published at and offers her analysis on political and military conditions in war torn Gaza.

US citizens heard little about the humanitarian crisis ongoing in Gaza when Israeli warplanes attacked. There was silence from the US press, even after UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asked Israel to allow humanitarian aid in to save lives.

After the attacks began US news anchors mentioned only the Hamas violation of the ceasefire, calling Israel’s action a retaliation. NBC’s David Gregory interviewed Israel’s Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, we hear a clip.

Tzipi Livni is running for the office of Prime Minister against the hard right former PM Benjamin Netanyahu. She was one of the first voices Americans heard from after Israel launched the attacks on Gaza, Livni telling NBC’s David Gregory that Israel wanted to change the realities on the ground, then Gregory ignoring Israeli violations to make it seem as if they never occurred. — We asked Phyllis Bennis to comment on Livni’s call for a new reality in Gaza.

As of early December 30th, the 4th day of Israel’s bombing of Gaza, web pages of network news outlets were featuring Gaza slide shows with portraits of dead or dying children. US based news networks like ABC were still reporting Israel’s attacks were retaliation for violations of the ceasefire by Hamas without mentioning Israel’s violations of the ceasefire which in this case did some first. World leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel were blaming Hamas for Israel’s attacks.

(See update JP January 4, 2009) Germans protest here. Meanwhile, headlines repeating what Angela Merkel says here that terror of Hamas cannot be accepted. — Meanwhile, Israeli ground troops enter Gaza. “The terror of Hamas cannot be accepted,” said Merkel in her New Year’s address. According to her spokesman Thomas Steg on Monday, she said in a conversation with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the responsibility for the conflict lies “clearly and exclusively” with Hamas.”) See Israeli Ground Troops Enter Gaza here.

Josh Ruebner of the Campaign to End the Occupation.

Josh Ruebner fills us in on what the group, End The Occupation, is doing in the organizing of a petition (also here) calling on President-elect Barack Obama to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Josh Ruebner also shares his thoughts on what else the President-elect can do to help solve the crisis. He points out that Israel’s Attack on the Gaza Strip could not take place without US weapons. And he urges the President elect to look into Israel’s illegal uses of US supplied weapons.

We discuss a possible strengthening of Hamas due to sympathy generated by Israel’s air strikes on Gaza. And the way the media has been covering Israel’s Gaza assault.

End the Occupation is planning over 100 protests within some 30 states and 65 cities across the US calling for an end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza. We discuss news and offer some analysis on Gaza, calls for investigations into Israel’s violations of the ceasefire in November, prior to Hamas violations, and review the humanitarian emergency in Gaza.

UPDATE: As of 2 PM eastern time December 31st, the death toll was nearing 400, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel’s cabinet decided to continue the attacks on Gaza, On the fifth day of Israeli air attacks on Gaza, Hamas official Mushir al-Masri told AFP quote: “Israel will embark on a veritable adventure if it decides to invade Gaza. We have prepared surprises for them,” he said. The exiled head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, speaking by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, voiced “readiness to cease armed confrontation but on condition of the lifting of the blockade of Gaza,” the Russian ministry said. Israel has warned that its “all-out war” on Hamas could last for weeks. It has massed tanks on the Gaza border, authorized the call-up of 9,000 reservists and warned of a ground invasion.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called for a ceasefire, as have the so called quartet of Middle East peace brokers — the UN, US, Russia and the EU (pdf file on EU). Israel considered the idea but rejected it.

Recent NY Times piece mentions President elect Barack Obama’s comments on Gaza: “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,” Mr. Obama said in July. “And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” Times story published, December 27, 2008

Palestine, Ground Forces enter Gaza, January 4, 2009 by Ayesha Saldanha, and moments in Gaza both here.

Inheriting Bush’s Blinkers, Obama and American liberals readily adopt positions on Israel that they would deem extremist and racist in any other context, by Ali Abunimah here.
“[But] as more than 2,400 Palestinians have been killed or injured – the majority civilians – since Israel began its savage bombardment of Gaza on 27 December, Obama has maintained his silence. “There is only one president at a time,” his spokesmen tell the media. This convenient excuse has not applied, say, to Obama’s detailed interventions on the economy, or his condemnation of the “coordinated attacks on innocent civilians” in Mumbai in November.”

Jen Marlowe: Abeer’s Baby here.
Abeer’s Baby, by Jen Marlowe. “Last time I saw Abeer, a year ago, she had shown me pictures of her fiancé, a teacher, and last time we spoke, months ago, she told me she was pregnant. But I had no idea how far along she was and that she was about to give birth now.”

One Response to “Phyllis Bennis and Josh Ruebner on Israel’s Gaza Assault”

  1. [...] We also hear a portion of our interview with Josh Ruebner that we did not have time to air last week. Ruebner fills us in on the origins of the people of Gaza, their longstanding plight, and important details not being mentioned in the media throughout coverage of Israel’s air and ground assault that began some 12 days ago. We also discuss his thoughts on approaching those who are presently supporting Israel’s attacks, which he is calling war crimes. [...]