“Rockets, rockets, rockets, and don’t forget those Palestinian rockets.” That’s about all you can hear from the news media and political leaders and pundits. If those stupid Palestinians would not have chosen to fire rockets at Israel they would now be living high and happy. After all, Israel left them with factories, farms and freedom to have everything they ever wanted and look what they did. Fired rockets. Listen to the evening news and you would think rockets were the first chapter. No consideration of history.
But, rockets were not the first chapter. Long before rockets or suicide bombers, Palestinians were abused, tormented, gunned down and starved by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Back in August 2002, the late Edward Said, Columbia University Professor and Jerusalem born Christian, wrote of life in Gaza:
“Every Palestinian has become a prisoner. Gaza is surrounded by an electrified fence on three sides: imprisoned like animals, Gazans are unable to work, unable to sell their vegetables or fruit, unable to go to school. They are exposed from the air to Israeli planes and helicopters and are gunned down like turkeys on the ground by tanks and machine guns. Impoverished and starved, Gaza is a human nightmare. Hope has been eliminated from the Palestinian vocabulary so that only raw defiance remains. Palestinians must die a slow death so that Israel can have security, which is just around the corner but cannot be realized because of special Israeli “insecurity.” The whole world must sympathize, while the cries of Palestinian orphans, sick old women, bereaved communities, and tortured prisoners simply go unheard and unrecorded.”*
Before rockets, Palestinians had endured among other things:
Zionist terrorism, such as the Hagannah, Stern gang and Palmach. Palestinians can remember the King David Hotel, Deir Yassin and Count Bernadette.
1948 Nakba and the ethnic cleansing of 1947-49 and Plan Dalet
Almost 800,000 Palestinians driven out of their homes and from their land and water, sixty years ago, many of them to live in Gaza behind cement barrels and barbed wire for the rest of their lives, many are still there.
1967 Six Day War with more occupation of Palestine and more refugees driven onto West Bank and Gaza.
Confiscation of Palestinian lands, warrentless arrests and torture, with 9,000 still in Israeli prisons.
Suppression of Palestinian industry to create a cheap labor pool for Israel.
Sabra and Shatila.
West Bank with 450,000 settlers with guns and Jewish only roads and over 600 check points, accompanied by closures and curfews and a wall shutting out Palestinians from their aquifers, farms, schools and hospitals.
Gaza has become an open air prison with Israel cutting off access to food, electricity and medicine.
Israel controls most of the US media, but we can still Google any of these subjects and find much that explains, not excuses, but helps us to understand the frustration behind rockets. But do it soon. Israel has declared the blogosphere an enemy. You can start by Googling anything by antiwar.com, or Jennifer Loewanstine, IF HAMAS DID NOT EXIST. She says it better than I ever could and with much more authority.
January 7, 2009
* Edward Said, The Politics of Anti-Semitism, Cited in Dignity, Solidarity and the Penal Colony, Counterpunch, Sept. 25, 2003