OPINION

Gaza Is Aflame. Again!

December 27, 2008
Sarah Islam

Just heard on the television that Israeli F-16 bombers have carried out massive air strikes in Gaza which have killed 200 and injured 400 mostly women and children. Scores of dead bodies have been thrown out on the streets as hospitals have no place to keep them.

They said that the weather had been exceptionally beautiful in the West Bank, for the past couple of days. Christmas was celebrated with much pomp and splendor and tourists had thronged Bethlehem for the first time in many years in record breaking numbers. Taking advantage of good weather, Israeli planes bombed around 40 Palestinian police stations, posts and other targets early Saturday morning. Time says that the ‘the first strikes came in a coordinated three-minute blitz’.

Israeli officials say the strikes are being carried out on response to the rocket attacks from Gaza, a Hamas ruled territory. The Israeli Government spokesperson on BBC told viewers that the ‘Palestinians were exaggerating the number of civilian casualties for propaganda purposes’.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in June this year. Israel wants the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shilat. Hamas needed a break to consolidate its control over Gaza. Neither side recognizes the other’s legitimacy but had agreed to negotiate through an Egyptian mediator.

On November 5 this year, the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. fuel, electricity, food, medical supplies and water equipment are no longer being allowed to enter the besieged Palestinian Territories.

According to Oxfam only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza in November.

Sara Roy, author of Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict says in the LRB: ‘The majority of commercial bakeries in Gaza – 30 out of 47 – have had to close because they have run out of cooking gas. People are using any fuel they can find to cook with. As the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has made clear, cooking-gas canisters are necessary for generating the warmth to incubate broiler chicks. Shortages of gas and animal feed have forced commercial producers to smother hundreds of thousands of chicks. By April, according to the FAO, there will be no poultry there at all: 70 per cent of Gazans rely on chicken as a major source of protein.’

The holocaust is happening all over again right here, right now. The International Community is not bothered and apart from a few UN warnings, there is no concentrated effort to stop Israel from carrying out violent attacks on the Palestinian people, their properties, their civil institutions, their livestock and their very dignity.

The EU announced recently that it wanted to strengthen its relationship with Israel while the Israeli leadership openly calls for a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip . Ehud Barack has just announced that ‘the time to fight in Gaza has come.’

The world is talking about change, countries are quick to pounce on their ‘right to defend’ themselves and Barak Obama’s victory in the US presidential elections has triggered a Mexican wave of joy across the world. It is scary that here is a man who has not even taken over the office yet and people everywhere are already treating him like he is the next best thing after sliced bread.

Obama has already shown his pro-Israel stand and is said to be a firm believer in Israel’s right to defend itself. I suppose we should resign ourselves to Obama murmuring the same clichéd lines when asked to comment on the Isreal-palestine conflict. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already accused Hamas of having triggered the new bout of violence. So Israel’s hands are clean. Again.

The mind boggles how the world can be so spineless once again and not ask Israel a simple question that Sara Roy asks: ‘How can keeping food and medicine from the people of Gaza protect the people of Israel? How can the impoverishment and suffering of Gaza’s children benefit anyone? International law as well as human decency demands their protection.’

Never before has a noble and dignified slogan like ‘Never Again’ been twisted into such a cruel joke.

India has the dubious distinction of being Israel's principal arms market, as well as being eager customers of Israeli intelligence reports, technological expertise and its propaganda prone foreign policy. Haven’t we all seen how we in India were singing hymns in favour of Israel after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai? Didn’t we all listen in as various experts and the aam junta upheld Israel as a ‘model state’ against combating terrorism on their soil?

Pakistan, on the other hand has always had a hardnosed religious approach to the issue of Palestine. Hardliners in that country have always treated Israel as another Kashmir that is theirs to be fought for. Calls for Jihad have been given many times and truckloads of eager illiterate Pakistani and Afghani youth have left their families to fight for their Palestinian 'brothers and sisters'. Again, a supreme example of how agood idea can be completely distorted.

What Palestine needs right now is not patronizing behavior but a few brave countries to stand in its corner and help their cause in front of the international community. No amount of humanitarian aid or sympathy can help the West Bank. The political leadership in that country has failed. It needs civilian action, not violence, to make the world hear its plight.

There is an overkill of the Israel-Palestinian issue in world media and I suppose a certain fatigue has set in with the common man who does not live in the Middle East. What we need to do right now is to shake ourselves out of this apathy, yes, you and me, and do whatever we can to make the Two-nation theory a plausible option for the world community. Let’s write letters, blog about it and create a human network that not only sympathizes with the Palestinians and their troubles, but is also active enough and strong enough to take this to the end.

This is not a Muslim-Jewish-Christian conflict. This is the unraveling of a society and the annihilation of a people and their way of life. Violence is the not the way forward. Neither is helplessness.

Sarah Islam is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes on politics, history and food. She has lived and worked in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Canada.
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#1
Lexiss
December 28, 2008
04:01 AM

"This is not a Muslim-Jewish-Christian conflict."

Incidentally the terrorists shooting people in Mumbai had this as one of the reasons for killing people citing killing of Muslims in Palestine.

"truckloads of eager illiterate Pakistani and Afghani youth have left their families to fight for their Palestinian 'brothers and sisters'."

Do you think they went to fight on humanitarian grounds or because one of the parties are Muslim ?

I don't quite get it, why is Islam on one side of most of the major conflicts in the modern world.

Be it Hindu's vs Muslims, or Christians vs Muslims or Jews vs Muslims. Why is Islam always the common factor ?

#2
Amitabh Mitra
URL
December 28, 2008
04:47 AM

A wonderful article. The Israel/Hamas conflict has gone beyond a stage where everything looks so unreal. Yet Gaza gets strangulated slowly. I read your article on Kolkata. Reminded me of the seventies in Park Street and Braz Gonsalves / Pam Crain crooning at Trincas.

#3
Ruvy
URL
December 28, 2008
04:54 AM

Lexiss,

Be it Hindu's vs Muslims, or Christians vs Muslims or Jews vs Muslims. Why is Islam always the common factor?

I would suggest to you, in partial answer to your question, that if you rephrase it just a bit, you'll see the answer staring out at you.

Be it HIndus vs. Deobandist/Salafis or Jews vs. Deobandist/Salafis; why are Deobandist/Salafis always the common factor?

The common factor is the hatred and intolerance preached by the Deobandists and Salafis. The Deobandists are at the root of the Taliban, and the Salafis (followers of el-Wahhab) are at the root of The Moslem Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and a host of other terror groups world-wide. They claim to be Moslems, but the Salafi, at least, were kicked out of the faith (Islam) several times before westerners (Brits and Americans) gave them money to conquer Makka and Medina. Because the followers of el-Wahhab own Makka and Medina, it is hard to accuse and characterize them as what they really are - heretics hiding under the robe of Islam, giving it a bad name. Please, don't believe me.

Read this condemnation of the Wahhabi by Sheikh Professor Abdulhadi Palazzi. I looked for the two links available condemning Wahhabism generally, but apologize to you for having failed to find them. However they are at this site linked to above.

I disagree strongly with the author of this article as to her approach to the problems facing the Children of Abraham. But whatever my disagreements with her may be, it is wrong to paint all Moslems with the brush of the terrorist. That just ain't so.

#4
Ruvy
URL
December 28, 2008
10:03 AM

I received this e-mail a few moments ago:
Ashdod, Gan Yavne, Yavne and Eshkol Region joined the attacked areas

More Katuyshas were fired at the various areas mentioned above. The range of targets like from Lebanon in the old days if 40KM or 25 miles. Gaza can be seen from Ashdod and visa versa on a clear day so targeting is easy.

According to foreign stations based on Gaza Sources 280 have died in the raids so far and perhaps some under the rubble. 600 Arabs wounded. Barak keeps the humanitarian aid of food and medical supplies flowing so as not to get the wrath of the world while the UN calls for a cease fire. Who listens?

Even the PLO condemns Hamas and the rest of the neighboring Arabs are paying lip service. A limited call up of 6000 reservists have been authorized. Schools 8in the south closed.


End of e-mail
.................................................
tzav shmóne - mobilization orders - have been issued for 6,700 reservists according to Ynetnews. The government would like us all to believe this will be a hard and long war. It will be hard on those on whose heads the bombs will fall, and on those soldiers who have to fight, but I fail to be convinced that it will be long.

The PA let the cat out of the bag this morning, confirming my analysis in the article, and confirming, in essence, an article found in World Net Daily. This morning the Jerusalem Post carried an article saying that the PA was ready to resume control in Gaza as soon as Hamas had been wiped out. The article in the World Net Daily said that MaHmoud Abbas had been lobbying the Israelis for months to attack Hamas before his term ran out on 9 January. That gives us a time frame for this campaign - about two weeks.

Finally, near where the incoming Jerusalem buses turn onto the highway leading to the center of town, Shuafat, Arabs have be throwing firebombs and rocks at Magavniks, members of the Border Patrol.

This affects me personally, as roadblocks are set up slowing traffic considerably. My sons, who want to go to J-lem to sleep over at a friends house there are having trouble getting into town, and my wife, who was working in J-lem today, may have trouble getting home.

#5
Ruvy
URL
December 28, 2008
10:09 AM

My apologies, Sarah, for posting the above update to your article. It was meant for my own, and I didn't realize that I was posting to your article until it was too late and after I had hit the "publish" button.

#6
sarah islam
URL
December 28, 2008
10:46 AM

No problem Ruvy
Very informative though. And very touching. My heart goes out to these people..

#7
temporal
URL
December 28, 2008
04:10 PM

Israeli Attack on Gaza: Bombs Fall as Children Go to School

Warning: Some of the video contained in this article includes raw footage from the aftermath of the attack and is graphic.

#8
temporal
URL
December 28, 2008
05:02 PM

Who is the Goliath?

The Occupier Goliaths

high quality tanks 970
Medium and low quality tanks 1830
APCs, IFVs, ARVs, LCVs 6930
Self-propelled artillery 1204
Combat warplanes 875
Transport warplanes 84
Training warplanes 171
Military helicopters 286
Heavy SAM batteries 25
Warships 13
Submarines 3
Patrol boats 50 50
nuclear bombs over 300-500

and

The Occupied Davids


Militants: Five major militant factions operate in Gaza. These are the Islamic groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad; the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is loosely tied to Abbas' Fatah faction; the Popular Resistance Committees, a shadowy umbrella group; and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The size of the groups is unclear, but they are equipped with assault rifles, mortars, anti-tank missiles, homemade rockets and other explosives.

****

the point neoconzix in israel and the west refuse to fathom:

force is not the solution




#9
bob
December 28, 2008
06:27 PM

Ruvy said "The common factor is the hatred and intolerance preached by the Deobandists and Salafis..."


the real common factors are israeli aggression, blockades, unwillingness to allow humanitarian aid or basics needs such as fuel and medicine to enter Gaza, and a blind eye by the west. I pray that the Palestinians get their revenge

#10
commonsense
December 28, 2008
07:27 PM

Bob:

"I pray that the Palestinians get their revenge"

I non-pray that nobody gets their revenge and all parties get some commonsense.

#11
bob
December 29, 2008
12:17 AM

dear commonsense,
commonsense would be great. but when has the west or israel ever had any?

#12
sarah islam
URL
December 29, 2008
05:58 AM

Dear Lexiss

Islam is the common factor because short sighted muslim leaders have created a panic among the iiterate and semi literate classes that Islam is under threat. What they do not realize is that even though it isn't, Islam will now certainly be threatened by the actions of these people who think they 'care'.

Dear Amitabh Mitra,
Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate that you took the time out to read my blog:-)




#13
commonsense
December 29, 2008
10:37 AM

Bob:

""dear commonsense,
commonsense would be great. but when has the west or israel ever had any?""


Why would they need any commonsense if they already had it? You make my point, albeit without being aware of it.

#14
Amitabh Mitra
URL
December 29, 2008
10:55 AM

With your permission. I would like to reproduce the section on Kolkata at a Cheenai based Poetry web group, Glorioustimes. Obviously your link would be mentioned.
I wish to write about the seventies Park Street, Trincas, Karkos. Noni babu strumming his guitar, Desmond Doig, Frustrationsamalgamated and The Savages.

#15
sarah islam
URL
December 29, 2008
12:50 PM

Dear Amitabh Mitra,

You are welcome to use that piece anywhere:-) I will be honoured. But that is a very smlal piece though isn't it? Keep in touch, thanks:-)

#16
Lexiss
December 30, 2008
01:24 PM


Well, I understand that Islam has been hijacked by the power hungry leaders. But why isn't someone like Martin Luther emerging to create a new faction ?

Darwin seems to say - "Survival of the Barbarian".

Also, I'd like to hear the correct interpretation of the verses, which many translations claim to explain "what kind of a stick should be used to beat one's wife".

#17
sukhendu mukherjee
January 8, 2009
01:04 AM

Lexis,

"I'd like to hear the correct interpretation of the verses, which many translations claim to explain "what kind of a stick should be used to beat one's wife"."

Every holy book is rife with this kind of nonsense. let's just leave it be...

#18
commonsense
January 15, 2009
09:56 AM

BBC:

""Claims have been received by the BBC and an Israeli human rights group that Israeli troops have fired on Gaza residents trying to escape the conflict area. Israel has strongly denied the allegations.

BBC journalists in Gaza and Israel have compiled detailed accounts of the claims.

Some Palestinian civilians in Gaza say Israeli forces shot at them as they tried to leave their homes - in some cases bearing white flags.

One testimony heard by the BBC and human rights group B'tselem describes Israeli forces shooting a woman in the head after she stepped out of her house carrying a piece of white cloth, in response to an Israeli loudhailer announcement.""

#19
commonsense
January 15, 2009
10:03 AM

BBC:

""The charity Christian Aid says a clinic for mothers and babies in Gaza, which it funds along with the EU, has been destroyed in an Israeli air strike.

The clinic, which was run by the Near East Council of Churches, was struck by a missile after a 15-minute warning was sent to the building's owners.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of medical equipment was destroyed by the strike, which happened on Saturday.""

#20
Ruvy
URL
January 15, 2009
11:03 AM

The mewlings of the BBC cited by the commenter above are fitting vengeance for Arab savagery towards our own people, a savagery that left 77 doctors and nurses dead on the road to Hadassah Hospital in 1947, a savagery that left tens of kibbutzniks dead in Kfar Etzion in 1948.

Arabs particularly but not only from Hamas routinely call for the extermination of Jews. We will not be so easily or cheaply exterminated.

A reminder for every reader here. The British - who fund the BBC - shut the door of our own country in our faces in 1939 - so that the Nazis would have more Jews to murder.

And the scum Amin el-Husseini, the mentor of Yassir Arafat and inspiration of Hamas, pushed the Nazis to exterminate Jews on European soil - a monstrous version of NIMBY practiced by an Arab - who has the blood of millions of Jews on his head, along with the Nazis and the British.

The Arabs who run the terror gangs in Gaza and Judea and Samaria are the spiritual descendants of this satanic bunch or scum.

This is the kind of garbage we are expected to call "peace partner".

#21
Anamika
January 15, 2009
11:48 AM

Two word re 1947/48: Deir Yassin!

#22
sarah islam
URL
January 16, 2009
02:24 AM

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them

By Amiram Barkat

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=487412&contrassID=2&subContrassID=5&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y&itemNo=487412

"A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face..."

How much longer are we supposed to stand by and let racism like this exist because of what happened in history?

Great arguments by many people here, many different viewpoints. But genocide is genocide and it is happening NOW and has been allowed to happen for the past 60 years. Having compassion for the Palestinians should NOT mean having compassion for Hamas.

But I can no longer see why a Palestinian who has been subject to the atrocities in Israel can now ever be reasoned with. And I can no longer see how NOT boycotting Israel is still an option.

Peace!

#23
Anamika
January 16, 2009
05:56 AM

"Edward S. Walker, former president of the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank, says the fuel supply program is emblematic of U.S. military support for Israel. Walker, who has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel, explains that the FMF money allows the Israelis to "do with it what they want. They can buy equipment or fuel. It's their choice, not the government's choice. It's the only program where we give someone a blank check and they can use it any way that they choose."

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/01/16/gaza_invasion/index.html

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