A few days ago I happened to be watching, once again, the documentary about Live Aid first shown 5 years ago on the 20th anniversary of the event.
Like millions of people on the actual day, I was enjoying the performances until we got to the part where they showed the film of the starving Ethiopian children and experienced again the horror of millions of people dying from famine, whilst we in the first world get increasingly obese.
And then it struck me; here was a genuine disaster where the whole world was mobilised by the efforts of one inspired man. So if Gaza is such a humanitarian disaster, and if people are really starving as so many in the anti-Israel organisations and commentators and journalists would have us believe, where are the images? Why are there no Live Aid type concerts? Where is the international outrage? Not the outrage of those with a political agenda, but the outrage which comes of genuine humanitarian concern?
As ever, I do not deny that many in Gaza do not have the greatest standard of living or quality of life, but is it not telling that the world actually understands real disasters, such as Haiti and the Pakistan floods. The world realises that the difficulties in Gaza, though real, are not in the same league as Haiti or Pakistan, let alone Ethiopia.
The only people fixated on trying to tell us that there is a humanitarian issue worthy of international attention are the flotillaniks and aid organisations whose agenda is to break the blockade, embarrass Israel and keep Gaza on the UN agenda. They are doing a fine job, often aided by UNWRA, but it does seem to me that the message that there is a humanitarian disaster worthy of the name is growing a little weak. And the idea that it is only Israel that is responsible for the conditions in Gaza is also beginning to pale.
Let’s not forget that Egypt also has a land embargo and one third of Gaza’s border is with Egypt.
Israel delivers thousands of tonnes of food and other aid and equipment every week through crossing points. Israel delivers electricity through its grid. Israel provides medical aid to thousands of Gazans a year. Shops in Gaza are well-stocked with food and white goods.
Yet Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, declare that their goal is to destroy Israel but complain that Israel is a little wary of the free passage of marine traffic into the Gaza strip. What nation in history whose enemy declared that its goal was to destroy it has provided the means for that enemy’s people to survive, although not thrive? And these are the same people who voted Hamas into power in the first place.
We hear how Gaza is a prison camp, that there is a humanitarian disaster, that Israel must end the ‘siege’. Bear in mind, also, that Hamas holds Gilad Shalit captive without access to the Red Cross. Bear in mind that rockets are fired daily into Southern Israel. Still Israel sends in the trucks.
How many countries have organised food aid for Gaza? How many worldwide broadcast concerts have the pro-Palestinian groups in Europe arranged to raise money?
So, as I said, I was thinking, maybe the world is not fooled. Maybe they actually understand it’s more about politics and less about suffering. Aid convoys and flotillas may have a small effect on the conditions in Gaza but their real purpose is political, not humanitarian.
No, the Gazan people are pretty well provided for by UNWRA, the EU, the United States and Israel. If they could get rid of Hamas, they might actually begin to thrive.