Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seven Years Later - It's Even Worse

Seven years ago, in 2005, Ariel Sharon, with great media fanfare, pulled 8,000 settlers out of Gaza. Women screamed and cried as soldiers dragged them from “their” homes. Sharon took bows. What a great humanitarian act and what a generous step to give independence to the people of Gaza. Of course, he did not have to project such harsh scenes of settler pain. All he had to do was announce that the thousands of IDF troops stationed in Gaza would be pulling out. The exodus of settlers would have followed without as much as a whimper.

Also, it may not have seemed so generous had the public known that at the very same time 8,000 settlers were moving from Gaza, Israel was building 13,000 units for Jews only on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and those moving from Gaza were offered $227,000 to relocate. Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948 and 1967 were given no compensation for the lives and land taken from them by force.

Sharon’s disengagement was hardly a liberation. It’s hard to feel liberated when surrounded by a hostile army. Israel maintained control of all crossing points, sea and air space. Gaza would remain alive only as an outdoor prison. Yet, we saw on the news only how much Israel was “giving up” to offer peace and prosperity to the Palestinians.

So, let’s take a look at what is not mentioned on the evening news, or in the chambers of Congress or even from Christian pulpits in America.

According to British based Save the Children:

Gaza’s only fresh water source is now too dangerous to drink and is contaminated with fertilizer and human waste.

Miko Peled, son of IDF General Matti Peled, continuing his father’s criticism of Israel writes:

Israel is getting away with murder, and it’s making me sick to sit around here and do nothing. Innocent people are being killed, children are hungry, there is mass unemployment and poverty, and it’s happening an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. None if this was caused by a natural disaster. It was caused because Israel deliberately caused these conditions, and no one in America says a thing. … Israel’s restrictions on travel and movement and the import and export of goods, plus the occupier’s complete control over land and sea have created a siege that is choking one and a half million people, including 800,000 children. Gaza has essentially been turned into an enormous prison camp. (1)

In 2008, Sarah Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, an activist organization opposing war and racism, wrote:

Conditions today in Gaza are desperate; Israel severely restricts and in some cases even denies the entrance of even basic food, fuel and electricity. Water filters, water pumps and bottled water are barred. The most basic supplies, from soap to batteries for hearing aids, are prohibited. No spare parts of any kind are permitted. Even desperately needed incubators for babies or dialysis equipment cannot be repaired or replaced. In the cold and crowded wards of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, the dispensary is out of 85 essential medicines and is close to using up almost 150 others. (2)

And this was before Israel bombed Gaza for 22 days in 2008-2009, killing 1400, of whom 1200 were unarmed civilians, wounding 5000 and destroying no less then 22,000 buildings.

When human rights activist attempted to enter Gaza bringing humanitarian aid, at least nine of them were murdered in international waters by Israel. When Rachel Corrie tried to stop a bull dozer from destroying a Palestinian home she was crushed to death. Even now, when kids wave flags and protest Israel’s occupation, they are shot to death. And what do our political leaders, preachers and news broadcasters do? They tremble in fear that someone might say that they are less than lovers of Israel.

Pictures of the suffering in Gaza would make most of us sick. Yet, without much objection, we Americans have been aiding this crime against a defenseless people for more than sixty four years. We support it through our taxes and remain silent when our politicians look the other way. The United States actually blocks actions of others, including the United Nations, when they speak out to condemn Israel’s atrocities. How the church can continue with “business as usual” while this tragedy continues is beyond my understanding. Politicians ignore it for money and votes. I guess the church does it for the same reason.

Thomas Are
June 23, 2012

1 - Miko Peled The General's Son, (Just World Books, 2012)  p. 157
2 - Cited in Joyce Chediac, Gaza, Symbol of Resistance.  (World View Forum, 2011)p. 31