[Marxism] Gaza settlers, Israeli troops stage psychodrama for US, British, German consumption

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Aug 17 16:26:35 MDT 2005

Watching the Gazan Fiasco
The Shame of It All

A great charade is taking place in front of the world media in the Gaza
Strip. It is the staged evacuation of 8000 Jewish settlers from their
illegal settlement homes, and it has been carefully designed to create
imagery to support Israel's US-backed takeover of the West Bank and
cantonization of the Palestinians.

There was never the slightest reason for Israel to send in the army to
remove these settlers. The entire operation could have been managed,
without the melodrama necessary for a media frenzy, by providing them
with a fixed date on which the IDF would withdraw from inside the Gaza
Strip. A week before, all the settlers will quietly have left -with no
TV cameras, no weeping girls, no anguished soldiers, no commentators
asking cloying questions of how Jews could remove other Jews from their
homes, and no more trauma about their terrible suffering, the world's
victims, who therefore have to be helped to kick the Palestinians out of
the West Bank.

The settlers will relocate to other parts of Israel - and in some cases
to other illegal settlements in the West Bank -handsomely compensated
for their inconvenience. Indeed, each Jewish family leaving the Gaza
Strip will receive between $140,000 and $400,000 just for the cost of
the home they leave behind. But these details are rarely mentioned in
the tempest of reporting on the "great confrontation" and "historical
moment" brought to us by Sharon and the thieving, murderous
settler-culture he helped create.

On ABC's Nightline Monday night, a reporter interviewed a young,
sympathetic Israeli woman from the largest Gaza settlement, Neve Dekalim
- a girl with sincerity in her voice, holding back tears. She doesn't
view the soldiers as her enemy, she says, and doesn't want violence. She
will leave even though to do so is causing her great pain. She talked
about the tree she planted in front of her home with her brother when
she was three; about growing up in the house they were now leaving, the
memories, and knowing she could never return; that even if she did,
everything she knew would be gone from the scene. The camera then panned
to her elderly parents sitting somberly amid boxed-up goods, surveying
the scene, looking forlorn and resigned. Her mother was a kindergarten
teacher, we are told. She knew just about all of the children who grew
up here near the sea.

In the 5 years of Israel's brutal suppression of the Palestinian
uprising against the occupation, I never once saw or heard a segment as
long and with as much sentimental, human detail as I did here; never
once remember a reporter allowing a sympathetic young Palestinian woman,
whose home was just bulldozed and who lost everything she owned, tell of
her pain and sorrow, of her memories and her family's memories; never
got to listen to her reflect on where she would go now and how she would
live. And yet in Gaza alone more than 23,000 people have lost their
homes to Israeli bulldozers and bombs since September 2000 -- often at a
moment's notice - on the grounds that they "threatened Israel's
security." The vast majority of the destroyed homes were located too
close to an IDF military outpost or illegal settlement to be allowed to
continue standing. The victims received no compensation for their losses
and had no place waiting for them to relocate. Most ended up in
temporary UNRWA tent-cities until they could find shelter elsewhere in
the densely overcrowded Strip, a quarter of whose best land was
inhabited by the 1% of the population that was Jewish and occupying the
land at their expense.

Where were the cameramen in May 2004 in Rafah when refugees twice over
lost their homes again in a single night's raid, able to retrieve
nothing of what they owned? Where were they when bulldozers and tanks
tore up paved streets with steel blades, wrecked the sewage and water
pipes, cut electricity lines, and demolished a park and a zoo; when
snipers shot two children, a brother and sister, feeding their pigeons
on the roof of their home? When the occupying army fired a tank shell
into a group of peaceful demonstrators killing 14 of them including two
children? Where have they been for the past five years when the summer
heat of Rafah makes life so unbearable it is all one can do to sit
quietly in the shade of one's corrugated tin roof -- because s/he is
forbidden to go to the sea, ten minutes' walking distance from the city
center? Or because if they ventured to the more open spaces they became
walking human targets? And when their citizens resisted, where were the
accolades and the admiring media to comment on the "pluck," the "will"
and "audacity" of these "young people"?

On Tuesday, 16 August, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than
900 journalists from Israel and around the world are covering the events
in Gaza, and that hundreds of others are in cities and towns in Israel
to cover local reactions. Were there ever that many journalists in one
place during the past 5 years to cover the Palestinian Intifada?

Where were the 900 international journalists in April 2002 after the
Jenin refugee camp was laid to waste in the matter of a week in a show
of pure Israeli hubris and sadism? Where were the 900 international
journalists last fall when the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza lay under an
Israeli siege and more than 100 civilians were killed? Where were they
for five years while the entire physical infrastructure of the Gaza
Strip was being destroyed? Which one of them reported that every crime
of the Israeli occupation - from home demolitions, targeted
assassinations and total closures to the murder of civilians and the
wanton destruction of commercial and public property- increased
significantly in Gaza after Sharon's "Disengagement" Plan - that great
step toward peace - was announced?

Where are the hundreds of journalists who should be covering the many
non-violent protests by Palestinians and Israelis against the Apartheid
Wall? -Non-violent protesters met with violence and humiliation by
Israeli armed forces? Where are the hundreds of journalists who should
be reporting on the economic and geographic encirclement of Palestinian
East Jerusalem and of the bisection of the West Bank and the subdivision
of each region into dozens of isolated mini-prisons? Why aren't we being
barraged by outraged reports about the Jewish-only bypass roads? About
the hundreds of pointless internal checkpoints? About the countless
untried executions and maimings? About the torture and abuse of
Palestinians in Israeli prisons?

Where were these hundreds of journalists when each of the 680
Palestinian children shot to death by Israeli soldiers over the last 5
years was laid to rest by grief-stricken family members? The shame of it
all defies words.

Now instead report after report announces the "end to the 38 year old
occupation" of the Gaza Strip, a "turning point for peace" and the news
that "it is now illegal for Israelis to live in Gaza." Is this some kind
of joke?

Yes, it is "illegal for Israelis to live in the Gaza Strip" as
colonizers from another land. It has been illegal for 38 years. (If they
wish to move there and live as equals with the Palestinians and not as
Israeli citizens they may do so.)

Sharon's unilateral "Disengagement" plan is not ending the occupation of
Gaza. The Israelis are not relinquishing control over the Strip. They
are retaining control of all land, air and sea borders including the
Philadelphi corridor along the Gaza/Egypt border where the Egyptians may
be allowed to patrol under Israel's watchful eye and according to
Israel's strictest terms. The 1.4 million inhabitants of Gaza remain
prisoners in a giant penal colony, despite what their partisan leaders
are attempting to claim. The IDF is merely redeploying outside the Gaza
Strip, which is surrounded by electrical and concrete fences, barbed
wire, watchtowers, armed guards and motion censors, and it will retain
the authority to invade Gaza on a whim. Eight thousand Palestinian
workers working in Israel for slave wages will soon be banned from
returning to work. Another 3,200 Palestinians who worked in the
settlements for a sub-minimum-wage have been summarily dismissed without
recourse to severance pay or other forms of compensation. Still others
will lose their livelihoods when the Israelis move the Gaza Industrial
Zone from Erez to somewhere in the Negev desert.

The World Bank reported in December 2004 that both poverty and
unemployment will rise following the "Disengagement" even under the best
of circumstances because Israel will retain full control over the
movement of goods in and out of Gaza, will maintain an enforced
separation of the West Bank and Gaza preventing the residents of each
from visiting one another, and will draw up separate customs agreements
with each zone severing their already shattered economies-- and yet we
are forced to listen day in and day out to news about this historic
peace initiative, this great turning point in the career of Ariel
Sharon, this story of national trauma for the brothers and sisters who
have had to carry out the painful orders of their wise and besieged

What will it take to get the truth across to people? To the young woman
of Neve Dekalim who can speak her words without batting an eyelash of
embarrassment or shame? As the cameras zoom in on angry settlers
poignantly clashing with their "brothers and sisters" in the Israeli
army, who will be concerned about their other brothers and sisters in
Gaza? When will the Palestinian history of 1948 and 1967, and of each
passing day under the violence of dispossession and dehumanization, get
a headline in our papers?

I am reminded of an interview I had this summer in Beirut with Hussein
Nabulsi of Hizbullah - an organization that has had nothing to do with
the movement for Palestinian national liberation whatsoever, but one
that has become allied with those it sees as the real victims of US and
Israeli policies and lies. I remember his tightly shut eyes and his
clenched fists as he asked how long Arabs and Muslims were supposed to
accept the accusations that they are the victimizers and the terrorists.
"It hurts," he said in a whispered ardor. "It hurts so much to watch
this injustice every day." And he went on to explain to me why the
Americans and the Israelis - with their monstrous military arsenals -
will never be victorious.

Jennifer Loewenstein will be a viisiting Fellow at the Refugee Studies
Centre at Oxford University beginning this fall. She can be reached:
amadea311 at earthlink.net

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