I have had a few comments lately to some posts about Gaza and the ‘blockade’ and I would like to thank those who have taken time to comment.
I find that most comments I receive are ‘agin’ what I have to say which is fine with me. It’s abuse and offensive language which is hard to take but I usually leave even those comments and edit out the swear words! Recent commentators often make fair points which require an answer.
I find it entirely understandable that those reading what I have recently written about Gaza will want to point out to me the very regrettable situation that thousands of Gazans find themselves in as a result of Operation Cast Lead; many are homeless; many are traumatized by the loss of family members; life is not easy for them and they feel embattled, angry and isolated.
I do not enjoy these facts. I fervently wish it were otherwise. I wish Cast Lead had never happened even though I believe it was necessary. I regret the deaths and destruction. I do not blame relief and charitable organisations for wanting to help.
However, when many commentators use language to describe Israel which is deliberately designed to compare that country’s actions with the most egregious excesses of Nazi Germany then I have wonder why Israel is attacked with this deliberate linguistic weaponry by the media, by supporters of Hamas, by the Palestinians generally. These locutions then become common currency with which to abuse Israel, and by association, the Jewish people. I say ‘and by association the Jewish people’ because if you call Israelis Nazis or say they are behaving like Nazis then you are abusing me, not just Israelis.
Why can’t people criticise Israel without resorting to Nazi comparisons? This is particularly painful when it is Hamas and the Palestinian Authority who use the most obscene means to indoctrinate their people to hate Jews (not just Israeli Jews) by means of ‘education’, literature, television and hate speech. If anyone is behaving like Nazis, including the goal to annilhilate the Jewish people, then it is Hamas and Hezbollah and their supporters.
But back to Gaza. Israel is blamed for the ‘blockade’, usually without reference to the fact that the Rafah crossing is on a border between Egypt and Gaza and Egypt is also restricting what passes into Gaza. The ‘blockade’ is not just an Israeli one. If Egypt wanted to open its border and allow in the materials that Israel is blocking, Israel would not be able to do much about it. Indeed, the tunnels under the border with Egypt have allowed anything to pass through: weapons, livestock, cars, machinery etc.
Now it is Egypt who are building a deep metal barrier to prevent this smuggling. Not Israel, but Egypt. Why? Why should a fellow Muslim country whose population is generally anti-Israel, pro Palestinian, seek to cut off this route and reinforce the ‘blockade’? The reason is that Hamas are smuggling. This is something that no country can support. But also, Hamas represent a direct threat to the stability of Egypt as they represent militant Islamism in its extreme form. Furthermore, Egypt has been working with Israel for mutual security reasons, to choke off the supply of weaponry and the means to build it (albeit, probably unsuccessfully).
So if Egypt supports Israel’s limiting materials to Gaza, then why are they not being pilloried in the same way as Israel? Why are they not being compared to Nazis? Why are the aid agencies not criticising them?
But as I have said before, the ‘blockade’ is to restrict mainly building materials and luxury goods. Israel is working with the UN on specific building projects to restore the Gazan infrastructure where it knows the materials will be put to proper use and not used to build a militarised Gaza Strip. Israel supplies electricity and gas, it allows in hundreds of truckloads of food and medicine every week, it treats thousands of Gazans in Israeli hospitals.
Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip completely by September 2005. It left behind it millions of dollars worth of equipment, greenhouses and other means for food production and to enhance the Gaza economy. Hamas chose to destroy it all; not an Israeli airstrike, but Hamas who put hatred of Israel before the welfare of their people and continue to do so.
When Israel left Gaza there was no blockade. Israel had done what the world wanted them to do: leave Gaza so that the Gazans could determine their own future. They were not asked to love the Israelis but they were given an opportunity to build a society. Instead Hamas and others chose to perceive the Israeli evacuation not as a unilateral move towards peace, but as a weakness. They then began to bombard Southern Israel with thousands of rockets. And what was the world’s response? What do you expect? These people are fighting for their freedom, the Right of Return and so on.
Hamas was outlawed by the EU but the world was content to see them fire their rockets. Little sympathy for Israelis whose lives were disrupted, whose homes could be destroyed, whose children were deliberately targeted at school times. No-one called this a war crime. No-one called this ‘collective punishment’. Why? Because the NGO’s, the UN and the likes of George Galloway had already decided that Israel is illegitimate and, therefore, anything it does is a crime and anything its enemies do, however extreme, is understandable.
No, Israel is not perfect. Yes, aid organisations are entitled to bring pressure on Israel to do more – that is what they are there for, but they are not there to make political mischief and misrepresent the truth.
Let me posit a scenario: 1945 – the Allies have a German army cornered in Northern Germany. The allies stop everything coming in and out. EVERYTHING. The ‘innocent’ Germans who allowed Hitler to take power and supported him since 1933 are starving. You are General Eisenhower. What would your response be to the NGO’s of today who are telling you that you are collectively punishing the Germans, including those who didn’t vote for Hitler, including those who oppose him in the underground movements? So don’t speak to me of ‘collective punishment’ in Gaza or tell me that they didn’t all support Hamas.
If there is a blockade of Gaza it is partial. If Israel is to blame, so is Egypt, but above all, Hamas. Excise Hamas and Gaza would be a very different place. If the West Bank can see unprecedented economic growth, why not Gaza?
Stop the hypocrisy.