Israel's chickens coming home to roost
I'm reading the Goldstone Report (warning: relatively big PDF) a 600-page document that details the findings of a panel investigating the attack on Gaza last winter. It's an astounding document. Not only is it an interesting and immensely readable introduction to the contemporary situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the oppression of the Palestine people, it is also simply an exquisitely convincing argument. Meticulous, detailed and balanced. It is the objective document that critics on both sides have argued for. It doesn't hesitate to show the full force of Palestinian in-fighting and unlawful attacks on Israel by mortar and Qassam rockets, but it also does not hesitate to shove Israel's face in what they've done. And they have done so very, very much.
It details and substantiates the allegations of deliberate attacks on civilians. I mean, some people might have gotten the impression that those allegations came from crazy, Kalashnikov-toting jihadists. No, those allegations came from so many credible sources that they can no longer be denied. The Goldstone Report documents a pattern of systematic attack on a defenceless civilian population. The Israeli army committed crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The people responsible need to lose their jobs, then they have to be tried and convicted and spend the rest of their lives in prison.
I've read a few documents like The Goldstone report when I was a member of Amnesty and a couple of times afterwards, as well. There is always some detail that gets you. Some ridiculous little piece of information or a telling story that is the convincing detail in the argument being made. It might be the story of how a political activist was shot in front of his children in Chile or the story of how the police routinely administered beatings to 12-years in the US. In the Goldstone Report, for me, it was the chickens:
For some reason the image of Israeli soldiers bringing the roof down on 31.000 chickens, for no good military reason other than just to fuck with the civilian population of Gaza; for spite, out of malice, is the detail that really got me.The chicken farms of Mr. Sameh Sawafeary in the Zeitoun neighbourhood south of Gaza City reportedly supplied over 10 per cent of the Gaza egg market. Armoured bulldozers of the Israeli forces systematically flattened the chicken coops, killing all 31,000 chickens inside, and destroyed the plant and material necessary for the business. The Mission concludes that this was a deliberate act of wanton destruction not justified by any military necessity and draws the same legal conclusions as in the case of [a similar destruction of a flour mill a few days before].
The Goldstone Report is, in short, mandatory reading for anyone looking for an understanding of the contemporary situation in Gaza and Israel/Palestine. It is readable, well-documented and convincing. As Klassekampen's reviewer Espen Stueland said of another recently published book on Gaza, I know of no words of greater significance that could be read right now.
(Norwegians will find that Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse's book Øyne i Gaza (Gyldendal, 2009) makes a wonderful supplement to the report.)