Ever since Israel occupied the Gaza Strip after the 1967 War, which it provoked, its native Palestinians have suffered unimaginable terror and humiliation. Packed into overcrowded refugee camps or impoverished towns they have been forced onto the margins of existence.
They live without adequate sanitation, food, medical care, or control over their own lives. The only people with rights are the Jewish colonists who stole the land and the military that enforces the theft. The Gaza Strip has literally become an open-air concentration camp. The observations of Tel Aviv professor Tanya Reinhart that appeared in my April 29 column are worth repeating:
“What is happening in the Territories is a process of slow and steady genocide. People die from being shot and killed, many die from their wounds–”the number of wounded is enormous, it is in the tens of thousands. Often, people cannot get medical treatment, so someone with a heart attack will die at a roadblock because they cannot get to the hospital. There is a serious shortage of food, so there is malnutrition of children. The Palestinian society is dying–”daily–”and there is hardly any awareness of this in Israeli society.”
This perverse myopia is also endemic throughout North America, where the pro-Israel media have trained us to identify Palestinians as “terrorists.” Reactions against military or “settler” violence have been depicted as aggressions, whereas “settler” murders of Palestinians, airstrikes against cities, refugee camp invasions, and mass demolitions of homes and orchards have been portrayed as legitimate, defensive measures.
It should come as no great surprise, then, that the reporting of Israel’s pullout of the Gaza Strip and eviction of Jewish colonists has been grossly distorted for the benefit of Israel.
The most obvious failure is one of general focus. Instead of depicting the pullout as a long-overdue victory for the long-suffering Gazans, our attention is drawn to the “settlers” and to Ariel Sharon, who comes across as some sort of statesman who made a great sacrifice for peace.
Particularly egregious are the numerous pictures of tearful Jewish girls and women clad in the protest colour orange being dragged out by soldiers or shown praying earnestly that the eviction won’t take place.
Inasmuch as these pictures accurately depict what happened, they lack historical context and as such generate undeserved sympathy for religious sociopaths, and confer upon Israel an unwarranted aura of magnanimity. Meanwhile, the Palestinians, are relegated to the background as if the pullout were part of some “land for peace,” quid pro quo.
This is the big lie that animates the general pro-Israel spin. An Aug. 9 editorial in the Toronto Star ironically titled “Give Gazans hope after the pullout,” shows the mentality behind this perverse inversion:
“What does the State of Israel stand to gain by pulling its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip? A lot. It will become ‘more Jewish, more compact, more secure and defensible and more at peace’ with itself. That is not some woolly idealist talking. It is the considered view of Gabriel Ben-Dor, head of Haifa University’s National Security Studies Centre, an adviser to the Israeli government and an early advocate of ‘unilateral disengagement.'”
Ah yes. It’s all about the Jews. The pullout has nothing to do with obeying (belatedly!) part of UN Security Council Resolution 242, or recognizing the human suffering the military occupation caused. No–”it was only done to serve Israel’s self-interest. How fortunate the Gazans must feel knowing that Israel wants to become more “Jewish, more compact, more secure and defensible and more at peace with itself!
That Gazans are benefitting from this zionist self-interest is entirely due to Hamas and the intifada, both of which began in Gaza, and without which none of this would be taking place.
Of course, to praise Hamas would call attention to Israel’s historic injustices, and therefore invite knee-jerk calumnies and vituperations from Israeli fifth columns like B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the obscene Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy.
The second failure is tunnel vision. The Gaza pullout is a feint to justify holding onto major swaths of the Occupied West Bank, swallowing all of Jerusalem and keeping up the Apartheid Wall. Abandoning Gaza cost Sharon nothing except a few votes and two fascistic cabinet members. Jews had never lived in Gaza, and as Ben-Dor said, the security costs outweighed the benefits. Sharon’s “sacrifice” is no different from a chess player’s sacrifice of a rook to checkmate the opponent’s king.
The third failure is a complete silence on the matter of compensation–”for Palestinians, that is. We read how a consortium of Americans raised $US14 million to buy the “settlers'” greenhouses so that 3,500 Palestinians would not lose their jobs, but what of compensation for 38 years of torture, misery, terror, dispossession, and assassination?
If a Jew claims to be related to someone who died under the Nazi Reich, all efforts are made to get that person compensation. Palestinians deserve no less, for they, too, are victims of genocide.
Alas, there are no financiers rushing to raise money or lawyers lining up to sue Israel for crimes against humanity, despite a ocean of unambiguous proof. To hold Israel accountable to something as “anti-Semitic” as international law, human rights legislation, or the International Criminal Court would call into question its very creation, which as we all know was criminal and devoid of any legal, political or moral foundation.
In the end, all our media can do is report what is safe to report–”Israel is pulling out; some delusional “settlers” have to be evicted; and Gazans can now hope for a better future. Although, since the “settlers’ and the Israeli military did such a good job of destroying the Palestinian economy, road system, housing industry and medical service, “hope” is pretty much all the Gazans have, but that’s not good enough.
Israel is obliged under the Fourth Geneva Convention to care for the welfare of the Palestinians. Given its abject failure to do so, the U.S., Canada and every other nation should pass laws to tax every Jewish organization that abetted the dispossession of Gaza over the last 38 years and disburse the funds to Palestinians.
What was good for the survivors of the Nazi holocaust is good for the survivors of the Jewish holocaust.