Friday night edition — kicking off the weekend with a bounty of post-holiday links (after the jump)
Nightmares & dreamscapes: Lisa Goldman on expressing dissent amid “a moment of national madness” in Israel:
On social-media platforms, acquaintances who had seemed perfectly sane and moderate in their political opinions were suddenly writing hate-filled, very personal attacks – on their blogs, on my Facebook wall, in long, ranting e-mails. Or bloodthirsty comments about what the Israeli army should do to the Palestinians. Yes, even the children, wrote one acquaintance. They would only grow up to be terrorists.
Amongst the Jewish Israeli public, polls showed support of the war at well over 90 per cent (Israel has a substantial minority of Arab citizens). Even in ultra-liberal Tel Aviv, I was afraid to express opposition to the war – afraid of being physically attacked. The army called up the reserves.
Gay friends donned their wrinkled army uniforms in response to emergency call-up orders; feminist friends packed lunches for their husbands to take with them as they drove to their army bases. Many told me they weren’t sure the army’s bombardment of Gaza was the right tactic, but surely one had to take some action to stop the south from being bombarded by Hamas rockets. Now was not the time to criticize. We were at war.
Amir Ben David, an editor of Time Out Tel Aviv, wrote in his first post-war column about two men who tried to have him kicked out of his local café upon overhearing him express opposition to the war during a quiet conversation with a friend, over cappuccino and cake. “People think they have the freedom to attack you – even if not physically – just because you express a dissenting opinion,” he wrote.
In Syria — which along with the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah has been Iran’s proxy opposing Israel — a revolt inspired by the “Arab Spring” could force President Bashar Assad from power and bring in a government less friendly to Tehran. Hamas angered Iran by opposing Tehran’s continued support of Assad and siding with the Syrian rebels, who are mostly fellow Sunni Muslims.
Iran’s immediate concern in Gaza is keeping Hamas from strengthening its ties to Arab capitals. This may be difficult, as evidenced by the fact that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which inspired the founding of Hamas and now is in charge of the Egyptian government, played a key role in brokering the cease-fire announced Wednesday.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is likely to press the militant group not to further agitate the region — and Egypt’s many domestic problems — with sustained violence against Israel. But Egypt has been criticized for tacitly arming Hamas by not tightening its border with Gaza to stop weapons smugglers from Libya and Sudan.
“The Iranians [had] better understand the paradigm is shifting in the Middle East,” said Nabil Fahmy, former Egyptian ambassador to the U.S. and founding dean of the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Cairo. “Hamas needs Cairo tremendously. It really has no other interlocutor to deal with Israel.”
According to estimates published Thursday by the Hebrew economic newspaper The Marker, the cost to Israel for “Operation Pillars of Defense” could top more than $800 million for military expenses and $260 million in compensation for citizens, including damage to property from direct rocket hits.
For businesses large and small, the loss could reach more than $52 million, the Manufacturers Association of Israel announced Thursday.
Meanwhile, in Gaza:
The devastation of the past eight days has shaken every corner and the relief of peace for 1.5 million Palestinians living here will soon be replaced by the reality of November’s carnage.
More than 150 have been killed. Many were militants, but 40 were children. Thousands more have been injured. Employees at Shifa hospital have reported an unusually high number of amputations, mostly among women and the young.
[Tuesday] morning, the heaviest aerial and naval assault of the conflict so far left the Hamas civil and security infrastructure in smouldering ruins. The city’s main police department, only recently rebuilt after Operation Cast Lead, had been hit, folding in on itself. The former Fatah headquarters was deconstructed by a reported eight rocket strikes. The offices of key ministries were flattened, still smoking at midday, the charred shells of minivans inexplicably lodged amid the rubble.
Over eight days, the Israeli army has hit more than 1,500 locations, targeting strategic military sites. Some were less military than others. The Ministry of Interior was destroyed and with it the machine running civil life in Gaza. While most of the populations’ records had been digitalised, the department governing births, deaths, taxes, passports and drivers licenses now no longer exists.
The damage to residential homes will run into hundreds of millions of dollars – shattered windows, collapsed walls, rocket damaged roofs.
And the economic heart of Gaza has stopped beating.
More from Sharif Abdel Kouddous:
More than 10,000 Gazans have been displaced according the United Nations. Thousands took refuge in 13 UN-run schools, many of them fleeing northern Gaza on Tuesday night after Israeli warplanes dropped swarms of leaflets on the area ordering residents to evacuate their houses or face an impending attack.
The destruction of Gaza is severe. Dozens of houses, apartments blocks and offices have been reduced to rubble. The Israeli military targeted numerous civil institutions, including a main bridge on the coastal road connecting Gaza City with the rest of the enclave, as well as several police stations, farms, the Islamic National Bank, and a sprawling government compound housing ministries that once issued identification cards, passports and other official papers.
“In eight days the Israelis inflicted the same amount of destruction as they did in twenty-two days in Cast Lead four years ago,” Sourani says. “I think the Israelis wanted to inflict pain and terror in the hearts and minds of the civilian population.”
Creeping polarization in action: Igor Volsky illustrates just how binary US state politics has become:
At least 37 states will fall under single-party control come January, with one party holding the governor’s office and majorities in both legislative chambers, the New York Times reports, “raising the prospect that bold partisan agendas — on both ends of the political spectrum — will flourish over the next couple of years.”
As a result of November’s election, 24 states will be completely controlled by Republicans, while at least 13 states will be Democratic. Power will be divided evenly in just 12 capitals — the fewest since 1952.
I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’: Ta-Nehisi Coates on the nagging subtext re: Susan Rice:
Republicans are certainly not attacking Rice simply because she is a black woman. But it is certainly likely that they are attacking her because she is a black woman, allied with a black man, who represents the party which black America believes is the best vehicle for its particular interests, and the broader interests of the country. In other words the question isn’t “Is Senator Lindsey Graham racist?” so much as it’s “Who does Senator Lindsey Graham represent?”
The answer is Graham represents a party whose candidate for the presidency believes black Obama voters are guilty of the sin of electoral bribery, while white Romney voters are simply guilty of loving their country too hard. Graham represents the party of birther claims and birther jokes; the party which thinks attempting to restrict the votes of black and brown people is good use of their resources. The notion that you can separate who Republicans target, from how their base tends to evaluate those targets is willfully naive.
Marcy Wheeler cuts to the chase:
Republicans are orchestrating yet another mob attack on one of President Obama’s African-American appointees. In this case, 97 House Republicans have signed a letter imploring Obama not to nominate Rice to replace Hillary Clinton. Yet they don’t raise any of the possibly legitimate reasons to oppose Rice’s appointment–her troubling record on Africa, her closeness to Obama.
These 97 Republicans don’t even try to make this look like legitimate opposition. Instead, they rehash a Benghazi attack that hearings last week debunked.