Gaza

gazabombingThe horror of what’s happening in Gaza is there for all to see. Here are the opening lines of Mahmood Darwish’s poem on Gaza:

Gaza is far from its relatives and close to its enemies, because whenever Gaza explodes, it becomes an island and it never stops exploding. It scratched the enemy’s face, broke his dreams and stopped his satisfaction with time.

Because in Gaza time is something different.

Because in Gaza time is not a neutral element.

It does not compel people to cool contemplation, but rather to explosion and a collision with reality.

Time there does not take children from childhood to old age, but rather makes them men in their first confrontation with the enemy.

Time in Gaza is not relaxation, but storming the burning noon. Because in Gaza values are different, different, different.

The only value for the occupied is the extent of his resistance to occupation.

You can read the whole poem & see a range of images from Gaza on Tom Clark’s blog, here. You can also follow detailed analysis of the situation on Jadaliyya, here.

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Comment on “Gaza”

  1. If the Israelis were indiscriminately shooting off rockets into Gaza during what passes for ‘peace’ time over there as well as in war, I might rise to some level of indignation. They do not and so I remain relatively calm.

    On my daily walk I often fantasize about many things. 4 to 7 miles can do that to an old man. I do my best writing out there as I wander about. Some of it is quite good. Unfortunately, I rarely remember any of it. Lately, however, I have imagined rockets taking off between houses, by the school and in the park for points south like Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and the like. I then imagine me up on the roof, waving my fists at the U.S. jets who would quite rightly be bombing me and my wee town back to the dirt we once were.

    The local police, and all other levels of government here frown on rockets in neighborhoods let alone their indiscriminate use by civilians regardless of their wacko affiliations. Nor would they hide in tunnels and shelters while encouraging me and my neighbors to wave at the incoming jets. I guess the difference is what passes for civilization and culture these days.

    All those Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Israel activists I read about don’t seem to be helping much either. In fact, looking at things as they are in Gaza, a good case can be made that they are making things worse. Just what have they done to encourage democratic development, academic freedom, economic growth or equality for women and gays in Palestine? Beyond name calling, what? I fail to see what is accomplished by the ‘usual suspects’ who can be relied upon to show up for anything, rants on social media or protests such as just occurred in Paris that ended in an attack on a synagogue with the mob shouting “Death to the Jews.” Lovely and ever so helpful to the Palestinians if what you wish is to portray them as intolerant and violent yobs.

    Israel did not strike Gaza until the terrorists had fired more than 150 rockets into Israel. Hamas had also rejected a cease fire. As for civilian casualties, Israel has taken unprecedented steps to avoid them. Hamas can’t say the same as it openly rejects the whole idea that it is wrong to target civilians. In fact, it is what they do.

    War is a horrible thing and people, innocent people beyond combatants die. That is the tragedy of war as it always has been. Collateral damage they call it. But the Israelis make phone calls, send text messages and ‘knocks on the roof’ to warn residents of incoming strikes. They allow terrorists and their families to escape. In the history of warfare, this kind of systematic warning is unprecedented. Why terrorists hide behind women and children is a separate question but if they do they run a terrible risk. What does Hamas send beyond more rockets?
    By the standards of war, which are admittedly low, Israel’s efforts to spare civilians have been unusual as well as exemplary. Still, it is war and their best efforts are not always enough. And Hamas? In a TV interview, a Hamas spokesman praised the courage of human shields. Gaza’s interior ministry urged Gazans not to “pay attention” to Israel’s “communications on the phones of citizens.” The results are dead civilians.

    Body counts are disgusting but another side bar to war and other disasters, man-made or natural. The civilian casualty rate thus far is low by comparison to other recent skirmishes. Civilian deaths in Gaza are skewed by the low number of Hamas military deaths. Israel has mostly targeted assets such as rocket launchers, command centres and ammunition depots. Most Hamas terrorists and commanders are lying low in the maze of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for them but off-limits to civilians.

    Stefanie Dekker, an Al Jazeera reporter in Gaza, said Israeli troops were targeting the tunnels Hamas fighters were using.”Hamas has managed to set up a tunnel – the Gaza under Gaza – which is a new thing that didn’t exist in the last conflict,” she said. A group of attackers, the Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) already attempted and failed tried to enter southern Israel through a tunnel from Gaza. The Israelis have reason to attack these tunnels wherever they find them.

    No one ever writes about what Palestine might have become had it not devoted so much of its time, energy and resources towards the destruction of Israel. Palestinians receive more foreign aid per capita than any people on earth and yet still inhabit a poverty stricken and infrastructural mess. The picketing, Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Israel mobs end up not helping but serving as apologists for the tyrants and killers who lead both Fatah and Hamas. Gazans may have voted for Hamas in the last Palestinian election but the terrorist organisation has ill-served its constituents. Gaza’s real enemy, Palestine’s real enemy is Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah. It is most assuredly not Israel.

    In 2005, Israel left behind farm equipment and other material capable of feeding the population. A plethora of donor countries promised support, financial and political, if Gaza would live up to its potential as a Singapore on the Mediterranean. Think of it, Gaza as Singapore on the Mediterranean!

    For the record, Singapore is one of the world’s major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports. Its globalised and diversified economy depends heavily on trade, especially manufacturing, which represents a quarter of Singapore’s GDP. Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world. It places highly in international rankings with regard to education, healthcare, and economic competitiveness. Just over five million people live in Singapore, of which approximately two million are foreign-born. There are four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. The country promotes multiculturalism through a range of official policies. Anything remind you of Gaza yet?

    Singapore is a unitary, multiparty parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People’s Action Party has won every election since self-government began in 1959. The dominance of the PAP, coupled with a low level of press freedom and suppressed civil liberties and political rights, has led to Singapore being classified as a semi-authoritarian regime. I’m thinking Gazans could live with that. Singapore’s rapid development has given it significant influence in global affairs, leading some analysts to identify it as a middle power. I bet Gazans could live with that too.

    The leaders of Gaza chose, however, to enrich themselves rather than improve the lot of Gazans. They used their remaining resources to build rockets instead of ploughshares. They fired these rockets at Israeli civilians and used their own innocent civilians as human shields. Israel ultimately imposed a painful blockade against Gaza that contributed to the area’s poor economic situation. What else could they do, offer up their civilians, their children?

    Hopefully, more and more Gazans are beginning to understand how ill-served they have been by Hamas. Media reports have documented the extraordinary wealth accumulated by Hamas leaders. With multi-million-dollar land deals, luxury villas and black-market fuel from Egypt, Gaza’s rulers made billions while the rest of the population struggled with 38 per cent poverty and 40 per cent unemployment. Like so many others of their ilk, the violent theocracy that is Hamas has become a criminal kleptoc­racy. No real surprise there. We’ve seen it all before.
    Gaza needs an underground much like that of the free French during WW2. The Israelis can in no way be compared to the evil confronted by the French of the time. That was an occupation! Gaza could, given time and resources, which would be readily available to them, overthrow the Hamas regime and make a deal with Israel. Gaza could give up its rockets in exchange for a plan that would feed and bring normality to its citizens. Israel still delivers water and medical supplies, war or no war. Who knows how much they and others would do for a real and lasting peace? We know that Hamas will never accept any plan that takes away its money and weapons but if the people of Gaza could achieve a real “Gaza Spring,” well, who knows what could happen?

    Anti-Israelis/Pro-Palestinians absurdly accuse Israel of apartheid. Do they really know what apartheid is? These same folks feel a kinship with Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, an alleged “moderate” who repeatedly promises that an independent Palestine will be totally Jew-free. Huh? Wouldn’t that be apartheid? On what planet would it be called “moderate?”

    The lives of Palestinians remain mired in violence and poverty due in large part to their “friends” as much as their own government. Maybe if their coterie of overseas “friends” encouraged Palestinian leaders to stop inciting their people to war and instead to focus on the countless peace proposals put on the table by Israel, the United States, the Quartet, Arab states and others, going back to the UN in 1947, there would be peace and a Palestinian state now. If worldwide activists demanded it, that state of Palestine might even be a democracy, maybe even another Singapore. Why not?

    Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Israel activists have shown themselves to be nearly as fanatical as suicide bombers. They act as an uncritical cheering section that goads Palestinians to seek nothing less than the complete eradication of Israel. They also do this from the comfort and peace of home. Couch terrorists I call them. Should we really expect the moderation, compromise, tolerance or coexistence that is required for peace to result from such support? Or should we expect the unyielding dogma that only prolongs the conflict? There is no moral victory in counting the dead.

    Differences in military technology accounts for some disparities in the tragic numbers of the current conflict. But, as an Israeli military spokesperson noted last week, Israel “uses its weapons to defend its civilians. Hamas uses its civilians to defend its weapons.”

    Terrorist fanatics who groom their children and others like them to become suicide bombers have little worry about death tolls. Hamas believes a public relations war can be won by showcasing children’s corpses in a schoolyard. Most of us prefer the sight of children playing in parks and school yards. Every day I walk through a park with a school playground to one side and baseball and soccer fields to the other. Just beyond are basketball and tennis courts. I imagine Palestinian children playing on them. It staggers me that there are those in my own community that would not only condone but reward those who would use these children in such a barbarous fashion.

    Today we tend to think of Israel as the superior force. The demographic and economic facts reveal another story. Perception has overwhelmed reality. The Arabs surround Israel. They greatly surpass Israel in population, wealth and historical military might.

    After the UN voted for partition in 1947, it left the Jewish state huddled on 18% of the original British Mandate land. The Jews accepted it gratefully. The Arabs rejected it with a vengeance. The British mandate expired at midnight, May 14, 1948. The State of Israel was declared the following day. Seven Arab states immediately declared war against Israel. As a gesture of goodwill, Israel’s Arab neighbours waited a full 5 hours before attacking. They haven’t stopped yet.

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