It's Time to Visit Gaza
- It's Time to Visit Gaza
By Miko Peled
The Electronic Intifada
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one area where liberals and neo-
conservatives in America find common ground. From Nancy Pelosi and
Hillary Clinton all the way to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice one
and all are united in supporting Israel's assault on the Palestinian
people and their land.
The criticism of Jimmy Carter's book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid
is a case in point. The hysteria on the Right is not worthy of
repetition, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outdid herself by issuing
a statement that: "It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people
would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that
institutionalizes ethnically based oppression." Wrong to suggest?
Here is something right to suggest: Madam Speaker, it is time for
you to visit Gaza.
In The Tribes Triumphant, arguably one of the best books ever
written about the Middle East, journalist Charles Glass describes
children in Gaza on their way to school: "... little girls with
white fringe collars, boys leading their younger brothers ... with
canvas bags of books on their backs, hair brushed back and faces
scrubbed ... Thousands and thousands of children's feet padding the
dusty paths between their mother's front doors and their schools ...
Beautiful youngsters so innocent that they could laugh even in Gaza."
Glass reveals that 56.6 percent of the 1.4 million people living in
Gaza (if you can call it living) are under the age of 18. That means
792,400 children; Gaza has no cinemas, no theatres, no concert
halls, and no space for entertainment or amusement. Where then do
these children play? Israel controls all access to, from and within
Gaza, never allowing these children to see the world outside this
tiny crowded strip of sand they call home. If this, Madam Speaker,
is not ethnically based oppression, what is?
"Gaza First" was the slogan that got the Oslo accords off the ground
in the early 1990s. Today, as innocent, unarmed men, women and
children in Gaza are imprisoned, starved and killed by Israel in
broad daylight, its obvious that it, meaning the Oslo agreement, was
another nail in the coffin of a just and lasting peace. Then came
Sharon's Gaza disengagement, which was a disingenuous claim by
Israel to make "concessions for peace". Pretending to pull out of
Gaza for the sake of peace, Israel tightened the noose around Gaza
and its people while freeing itself from any obligation for the
welfare of the people of Gaza.
People call Gaza a hotbed of terror, neglecting, or perhaps refusing
to see that people in Gaza are attempting, albeit in all futility,
to resist the terror under which they are forced to live. Close to
one million of Gaza's 1.4 million residents are refugees or
descendents of refugees forced out of their homes from other parts
of Palestine only to be imprisoned and impoverished in Gaza. In The
Roadmap to Nowhere Tanya Reinhart writes: "Since 1967, 280,000
people in Gaza have passed through Israeli prisons, detention cells
and interrogation rooms." The connection cannot be overlooked:
Residents of Gaza have made a name for themselves in resisting the
Israeli occupation of Palestine even before 1967 and they have paid
dearly for this resistance.
On 11 December 2006 Jan McGirk described in The Independent the
effects of Israeli terror on the children of Gaza: "No sane child
can remain unaffected by the mayhem of Gaza Strip. Playmates
frequently are killed or maimed: at last count, Israeli guns had
slain 88 Gazan children and wounded another 343 between mid-June and
December, 2006" She further writes that "In Gaza's grim conditions,
mothers find it hard to tell if their offspring are crying out of
fright, pain or misery. But when normally bickering brats fall
silent, it's the first sign of mental scars from being constantly
scared." She adds, "Muhammad, who would hit smaller children or
shatter cups when he did not get his way, eventually revealed in an
after school meeting that two IDF soldiers had executed a young man
right in front of him."
In America people still speak of a "peace process", and the
situation in Gaza and in the West Bank is characterized as a
conflict between two people who can't find a fair compromise. Few
dare to mention that the only process that is taking place is
oppression for the sake of expansion. Palestinian children are
imprisoned, traumatized, starved and murdered so that Israeli can
maintain its hegemony over the: "Land of Israel".
Gaza is collateral damage, the children of Gaza are of no
consequence and the leaders of the enlightened, democratic Western
world could not care less. But in spite of its enormous military
might Israel's authority over life in Gaza can be must be defied.
People conscience must act so that the ethnically based oppression,
of which House Speaker Pelosi says it is wrong to accuse Israel,
must be brought to an end.
Miko Peled is an Israeli living in San Diego. He is the son of
Israeli General Matityahu Peled.
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