In an incredible display of ignorance if not crass insensitivity to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, US Senator Chuck Schumer, addressing the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America a few days ago (above), actually stated that it ‘makes sense to strangle (Gaza)’ economically, ‘until it votes the way Israel wants.’ This statement is not so much an abrogation of democracy as it is about send people into the voting booth with a gun behind their heads.

This past Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a wide-ranging speech at an Orthodox Union event in Washington, D.C. The senator’s lecture touched on areas such as Iran’s nuclear program, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and several domestic policy issues.

During one point of his speech, Schumer turned his attention to the situation in Gaza. He told the audience that the “Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution,” and also that “they don’t believe in the Torah, in David.” He went on to say “you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay.”

New York’s senior senator explained that the current Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip — which is causing a humanitarian crisis there — is not only justified because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it shows the Palestinians living there that “when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement.” Summing up his feelings, Schumer emphasized the need to “to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go”:

A deep in-depth analysis of Schumer’s remarks substantiate that he is either seriously misinformed or acting as a conduit of Israeli propaganda.

First of all, Schumer is simply wrong that the majority of Palestinians refuse to accept a two-state solution. On one major point, a recent poll found that 74 percent of the Palestinian population wants to see a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel. This is also the position of Abbas, and there are indications that Hamas may also be compelled to support such a solution. The problem is that Israel is unwilling to give up Hamas, lest it lose its ‘victim of terrorism’ meme gained after 9/11 (when Netanyahu acknowledged that 9/11 was good for Israel) and give up a prize red herring that distracts from the continuing colonization of the West Bank. The siege is of course a staple aspect of the Hamas terrorism bugaboo.

The reality is that Israel’s right wing government, including Likud and the religious parties, and perhaps even the moderate right Kadima party, prefers Hamas over two-states, the will of the Israeli people notwithstanding.

A golden rule about discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that Nazi analogies are not permitted lest a charge of anti-Semtism follow soon afterward, but Juan Cole, whose site Informed Consent, follows the IP conflict (among other Arab world topics) reminds Israel of the German concept of Sippenhaftung ( roughly, kin liability laws). Sippenhaftung was the practice in Nazi Germany in which relatives of persons accused of crimes against the state were held to share the responsibility for those crimes and subject to arrest and sometimes execution. In short, it is a form of collective punishment. However, it was never practiced against Jews, who suffered a worse fate, but against German dissidents and their families.

According to Cole, Sippenhaftung is now being practiced by Israel against the Gazan Palestinians, half of whom of are children. Cole also reminds Israel of some facts that it is reluctant to repeat publicly about Gaza and its inhabitants.

“Gaza” is an abstraction to most Israelis, including Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. A majority of the 1.5 million Gazans is not even from Gaza, but rather is from what is now Israel.

Americans do not know, and perhaps do not care, that 68% of Gazans are refugees living in 8 refugee camps, who were ethnically cleansed and violently expelled from their homes in 1947-48, in what is now Israel. And no, they were not combatants, just civilians caught up in a civil war of sorts. They lost massive amounts of property and their homes, which would now be worth billions, but have never received a dime from the Israelis in reparations or compensation. Then in winter of 2008-2009, the Israeli military destroyed one in every eight Palestinian homes, rendering even more people homeless.

Schumer accuses the Gazans of not `recognizing’ Israel, which is sort of like accusing the pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico of not `recognizing’ BP. If Schumer wants the recognition and good will of the Gazans, he should arrange for them to be paid for the homes and farms out of which they were chased by the Israelis, who made them homeless refugees in a kind of vast concentration camp in Gaza, and are now half-starving them.

So anything short of `starving to death’, i.e. mass extermination in the camps, is all right as long as it convinces the enemy?

How about something short of starving to death, such as 10% of children being stunted from malnutrition? Would that be worth it? Or a majority of Gazans being `food insecure’ according to the United Nations?

It would appear that Senator Schumer supports the practice of  Sippenhaftung, collective punishment, in Gaza.

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