Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Wretched of the Earth

Trapped. The people have no where to go. They can not exit and help can not come in. Life is dismal, depressing and hard. Though a thriving capital is nearby no one cares about these souls. The government has convinced everyone else that it is perfectly fine to treat human beings like this because these humans are a security threat.

Food is scarce. They have been eating basic starches for weeks now. The malnutrition is rampant. With no electricity the previously scarce water is now not being pumped at all. Families crowd into houses and the conditions for widespread disease are ripe. Trapped like animals, not knowing which moment maybe their last, this is life in the Warsaw Ghetto.....this is life in Gaza.

The state which came to be while the words "never again" and "we will never forget" were on the lips of the western world has forgotten. In stead of "never again", Israeli policies of collective punishment have continued again and again. This time, with the siege of Gaza, they have reached a new and despicable low.

But Israel has convinced itself that the people of Gaza pose a security risk and by doing so Israel can justify its vulture-like behavior. The reality is that while only12 people have been killed by rocket attacks from Gaza since the attacks began a few years ago more than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the last 2 months.

Yet where is the outcry? The western world voiced its support for the students of Tianamen square. The image of a young person standing in front of a row of tanks is symbolic of the resistance that humans around the world should rally behind. All of us where Chinese on that day. All of us who believed in political and human rights where standing before tanks that day.

And when Germans decided they would no longer except foreign influence and oppression and brought down the wall in Berlin heading the call of then President Reagan the western world stood behind them in support. Shock, disbelief and elation filled us as we stood at the end of an era. All of us were German that day.

And today we must ask ourselves...are we brave enough to be Palestinians today? Like their German and Chinese counterparts before them the Palestinians in Gaza refuse to be subjugated to the will of an oppressor. They refuse to be denied food and water. They refuse to be denied basic human rights. And they refuse to wait for the world to wake up because Gaza would have been dead before the western world had the dignity and audacity to call Israel what it Oppressor.

Human rights organizations across the globe, from east to west, from Arab to Israeli to American, all agree that what Israel is doing in Gaza is collective punishment of a civilian population. While there are international laws against torture and also against genocide there does not seem to be a crime that is by definition both torture and genocide at the same time. However this is precisely what is transpiring in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli state.

The collective torture of the Palestinian people in Gaza through sonic booms, malnutrition, aerial
bombardment, economic sanctions, periodic incursions, targeted
assassinations, food shortages, water shortages, electricity outages and the
day to day horrors of Israel occupation is nothing but the state sponsored systematic extermination of a slow motion.

What makes the policy of strangulation even more despicable is that it is politically motivated, which, since it is the targeting of civilians for political gain, is state sponsored terrorism. After Hamas was democratically elected in January of 2006 Israel, the US, and the Palestinian Authority recognized that engaging Hamas and taking into consideration the aspirations of the people in the West Bank and Gaza would mean there plans for a post-Arafat, non-representative "peace process" would be ruined. Hence, we have what we see today. After two years Hamas will not budge. The people in Gaza are not turning against them and because of this Israel, with the US and Palestinian Authority's blessing, have decided to break the Palestinians of Gaza by attempting to starve them into submission.

In the end, the events of this week have left egg on the face of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the United States. The sight of hundreds of thousands of Gazans pouring out of the prison they call home just to by food reminded me of the imagery of thousands of African-Americans struggling to find aid after hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast. Like America but far worse the deamons in Israel's closet have escaped and the only remaining question is: What are we going to do about it?

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