[Marxism] Will You Continue To Ignore Gaza’s Suffering, Mr Obama?

Dbachmozart at aol.com Dbachmozart at aol.com
Sat Dec 6 17:31:32 MST 2008


From: K & B Christison [_kb.christison at earthlink.net_ 
(mailto:kb.christison at earthlink.net) ]
Sent:  Friday, December 05, 2008 1:36 PM
To: Christison, K & B
Subject:  Gaza

This article appeared yesterday in Counterpunch's print edition, not  on the 
website.  They held it more than a week before running it,  unfortunately, 
but 
the situation is still the same.  We've changed the  time frame--four weeks 
for 
the length of the blockade rather than three  weeks--and added back in a 
couple 
of sentences that CP took  out.    --K&B
---------

Source: CounterPunch Print  Edition, Vol. 15, No. 20, Nov. 16-30, 2008, pages 
5 - 
6

Will You  Continue To Ignore Gaza’s Suffering, Mr Obama?
By Kathleen and Bill  Christison

Palestine and Palestinian suffering have always taken a back  seat in the 
world’s 
attention while the United States starts this war,  finishes off that war, or 
expands it; while the world deals with wars and  economic crises; while the 
attention of the compassionate is taken up by  starvation and pestilence and 
war 
in Sudan or in Congo or Rwanda or Somalia.  Throughout these crises – quite 
legitimate crises all – Palestine is always  left to molder, sometimes at a 
more 
rapid pace in more inhumane  circumstances than at other times.

Right now, the circumstances could not  be more inhumane. Right now, the 
paramount Palestinian crisis is in Gaza,  where Israel – with active 
political 
and ongoing financial backing from the  United States – is blockading a tiny, 
horribly overcrowded piece of land and  consciously depriving its 1.5 million 
people of all of the essentials of  life: of food, of medicines, of equipment 
to 
keep hospitals running, of fuel  for cooking, of fuel for producing 
electricity, 
of fuel for running  generators, of fuel for automobiles, of spare parts for 
sewage treatment  plants (so that plants break down and sewage pours into the 
streets and, in  quantities in the millions of liters, into the 
Mediterranean), 
of clean  fresh water.

You might want to believe, Mr. Obama, that this is all the  Palestinians’ own 
fault because they have been firing rockets into civilian  areas of Israel 
and 
they deserve all the punishment they are receiving. But,  in fact, Mr. Obama, 
if 
you were paying attention, and if you really cared,  you would know that 
Israel 
started this latest round. Israel broke the  four-month-old ceasefire on 
November 
4, when an Israeli unit entered the  Gaza Strip and attacked an area in the 
central Strip, claiming that  Palestinians were digging a tunnel and intended 
to 
“kidnap” an Israeli  soldier. When Hamas responded to this ceasefire 
violation 
with rockets,  Israel imposed a total blockade on the already besieged 
territory 
and closed  all entry and exit points.

That was over four weeks ago. Four weeks, in  which Gaza’s inhabitants have 
lived 
with dwindling food supplies, virtually  no electricity, little heat as 
winter 
approaches, no medicines, no life. In  those weeks, Israel has opened the 
border 
to one or two small food  shipments, but this is like a drop in the ocean for 
a 
million and a half  people already living in poverty. Within ten days of the 
Israeli closure,  UNRWA, the United Nations refugee relief organization that 
provides food to  Gaza’s huge refugee population, had run out of food for the 
750,000 people  it regularly feeds. Two-thirds of Gaza’s population are 
refugees 
who have  already been living a miserable life in camps for over 60 years. 
Well 
over  half of the total Gaza population are children.

The who-struck-John in  this latest round is not what matters, Mr. Obama – 
not 
that it was Israel  that broke the ceasefire, not that you and your 
Israel-supporting advisers  might believe that the Palestinian response to 
the 
Israeli incursion should  be counted, bullet for bullet, an “overreaction”: 
multiple rockets in  retaliation for one tiny little incursion. What matters 
is 
that this is  collective punishment – punishing an entire civilian population 
for 
the  actions of a few militants. What matters is that this is punishing 
people  
simply because they are Palestinians, non-Jews, intruding on Zionism’s  
desire 
for exclusive Jewishness in Palestine. What matters is the scale of  the 
oppression under which Palestinians live, thanks to Israel and to us,  its 
U.S. 
enabler.

For this latest blockade is not the first, and it  is not a new phenomenon in 
the 
long history of the Palestinian attempt to  survive Israel’s domination. The 
international embargo of Gaza, demanded by  Israel and led by the United 
States, 
has been in effect for almost three  years, since Hamas was democratically 
elected in January 2006 to head the  Palestinian legislature and government. 
The 
blockade was further tightened  in June 2007, when Hamas thwarted a 
U.S.-inspired 
coup attempt by its  Palestinian rival Fatah and took over control of Gaza. 
But 
even these last  three years in Gaza’s troubled history are only a more 
severe 
version of the  misery Gaza has been enduring for decades.

American economist Sara Roy, a  student of Gaza’s sufferings through the last 
several decades, long ago  concluded that Israel’s strategy throughout the 
occupation has been not  simply to let Gaza’s economy drift but rather to 
pursue 
a strategy of what  she calls “de-development,” ensuring that Gaza can 
develop no 
economic base  at all, by actively depriving it of economic resources and the 
institutional  development capabilities needed to create and sustain a 
thriving 
economy.  Israeli journalist Amira Hass, another student of Gaza who lived 
there 
for  several years in the 1990s, has written that even the Oslo peace process 
 
proved so oppressive in Gaza that it became synonymous “with mass internment  
and 
suffocating constriction.”

(It is worthy of note, Mr. Obama, that  both of these experts on Gaza are 
women, 
both are Jewish, and both are the  daughters of Holocaust survivors. Both 
know 
far better whereof they speak  and are far richer in compassion than all of 
the 
pro-Israel lobbyists among  your advisers who have succeeded in tying your 
tongue.)

The result of  these years and these various stages of enforced misery comes 
as 
no  surprise. According to a recent report by the International Red Cross, 
there  
has been progressive deterioration in “food security,” meaning the assured  
supply of enough nutritious food for a healthy life, for 70 per cent of  Gaza’
s 
population. The dramatic fall in living standards caused by the  
international 
embargo has resulted in a widespread shift in diet from meats,  fruit, and 
vegetables to foods, including cereals and sugar, that are  “alarmingly” 
deficient in iron and Vitamins A and D. What the Red Cross  terms chronic 
malnutrition is steadily rising and will have long-term  consequences. Forty 
per 
cent of the population is classified as “very poor,”  living on considerably 
less 
than $1 per day.

For God’s sake, Mr.  Obama, this is intolerable.  Yet you remain silent.

Several years  ago, a woman in Norway wrote us in response to an article 
about 
some other  Israeli atrocity against the Palestinians, and we have had her 
plea 
posted  over a computer ever since. “What is the worth of a civilization,” 
she  
wondered, “that has no eyes and ears for the suffering and agony of the  
people 
under Israel’s bombs?”

“What is the worth of a civilization”  that can turn aside from these 
horrors? 
This is a hard, hard judgment. But  it fits. It fits your behavior, your 
silence, 
Mr. Obama. In fact, much of  the rest of civilization has finally begun to 
notice 
what is happening in  Gaza – much too late, but anything is better than 
perpetual 
silence. The  U.N. secretary general called for an end to the blockade of 
Gaza 
last week;  the president of the U.N. General Assembly has advocated a 
boycott 
and  sanctions against Israel for its behavior; the EU parliament has taken 
note;  
various other international organizations – including the International Red  
Cross, the World Bank, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and a large  
coalition 
of mostly British charitable organizations, among others – have  expressed 
deep 
concern at the state of utter collapse in Gaza that is the  direct result of 
the 
long-running embargo, imposed on Gaza by the United  States and Israel. Mary 
Robinson, former president of Ireland and former  U.N. High Commissioner for 
Human Rights, recently condemned the blockade  after a visit to Gaza, calling 
the 
situation there ten times worse than when  she last visited in 2001. Gazans 
have 
no hope, she said.

This is a  U.S.-created, U.S.-supported humanitarian disaster, Mr. Obama. For 
God’s  sake, why can’t you – why won’t you – stop it? All it would take is 
a call  
by you for an immediate end to the blockade and embargo. The symbolic value  
of 
such a call, which would put meat on the bones of your talk about  compassion 
and 
on your call for tearing down the walls between peoples,  could be massive. 
The 
impact on Gazans would be beyond  description.

Kathleen and Bill Christison have been writing on Palestine  and traveling 
there 
for several years. Kathleen is the author of two books  on the Palestinian 
situation and U.S. policy on the issue, while Bill has  written numerous 
articles 
on U.S. foreign policies, mostly for CounterPunch.  They have co-authored a 
book, 
forthcoming in mid-2009 from Pluto Press, on  the Israeli occupation and its 
impact on Palestinians, with over 50 of their  photographs. Thirty years ago, 
they were analysts for the CIA, but this is a  part of their past that they 
would 
now prefer to forget. They can be reached  at _kb.christison at earthlink.net_ 
(mailto:kb.christison at earthlink.net) <UrlBlockedError.aspx>.
**************Make your life easier with all your friends, email, and 
favorite sites in one place.  Try it now. 
(http://www.aol.com/?optin=new-dp&icid=aolcom40vanity&ncid=emlcntaolcom00000010)



More information about the Marxism mailing list