In light of the recent attacks on Gaza, I have finally decided to put my two cents in: this most recent attack is reminiscent of the 2006 Lebanon War. The blatant disregard for human life on part of the Israeli government and military is one again on display and the reaction on the political and diplomatic level is once again disheartening, disgusting, and outright ridiculous.
The spring semester of 2007, for me, was a semester where I think my life took a dramatic turn, academically at least. I no longer could get myself to have any type of faith with any political party or government or even people to do the right thing. I took courses on US and Middle Eastern Foreign Policy, Islam in the Modern World, History of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and Film of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (there were a couple of more classes in there–but these were the reason I changed). Exploring history, coupled with religion and politics, really gave me a view of the big picture. I don’t think you can ever get the “big” picture or at least a glimpse of it until you explore a situation from it’s geopolitical, cultural, religious, social and historical aspects. Especially that of the Middle East. Which, by the way, is the BIGGEST flaw of our “foreign” policy that we like to pretend we have. My whole point of this mini rant is this: Western foreign policy is a farce.
Now onto the discussion of what is currently in play in Gaza. Let’s do a quick track back and understand what is going on.
“The Israeli government did indeed withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005 – in order to be able to intensify control of the West Bank. Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser, Dov Weisglass, was unequivocal about this, explaining: “The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians… this whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely.”
Ordinary Palestinians were horrified by this, and by the fetid corruption of their own Fatah leaders, so they voted for Hamas. It certainly wouldn’t have been my choice – an Islamist party is antithetical to all my convictions – but we have to be honest. It was a free and democratic election, and it was not a rejection of a two-state solution. The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 per cent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 per cent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine. So, partly in response to this pressure, Hamas offered Israel a long, long ceasefire and a de facto acceptance of two states, if only Israel would return to its legal borders.
Rather than seize this opportunity and test Hamas’s sincerity, the Israeli government reacted by punishing the entire civilian population. It announced that it was blockading the Gaza Strip in order to “pressure” its people to reverse the democratic process. The Israelis surrounded the Strip and refused to let anyone or anything out. They let in a small trickle of food, fuel and medicine – but not enough for survival. Weisglass quipped that the Gazans were being “put on a diet”. According to Oxfam, only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza last month to feed 1.5 million people. The United Nations says poverty has reached an “unprecedented level.” When I was last in besieged Gaza, I saw hospitals turning away the sick because their machinery and medicine was running out. I met hungry children stumbling around the streets, scavenging for food.
It was in this context – under a collective punishment designed to topple a democracy – that some forces within Gaza did something immoral: they fired Qassam rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities. These rockets have killed 16 Israeli citizens. This is abhorrent: targeting civilians is always murder. But it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to claim now to speak out for the safety of civilians when it has been terrorising civilians as a matter of state policy.
The American and European governments are responding with a lop-sidedness that ignores these realities. They say that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate while under rocket fire, but they demand that the Palestinians do so under siege in Gaza and violent military occupation in the West Bank.
Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don’t take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, “told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms.” Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.” —Johann Hari
Now, looking at this, the story changes a bit, but no..how many Americans actually read “The Independent” from the UK? Okay, so I give you that much. Maybe it’s those crazy Brits coming up with some crazy liberal idea and we can’t admit to it. So I searched another outlet, still British, but more reliable in terms of a global source of news (at least if you have an ounce of education). I went to the BBC to make sure that I wasn’t twisting the facts. This is what I found: “Propaganda war: trust what we see?”. Now for another “side” of the story–Bush is blaming Hamas for this air raid and here is the BBC article on that. And to make those who fear an unbalanced story I did something I never do and I found this site called Fox News.
Fear not academics! Bill O’Reilly makes sure he keeps it straight in the “No Spin Zone” with his constant yelling and “true” accusations. I pray one day I’ll be asked to star on his show, it will only make my life more complete 🙂
This is what I found….
I know it’s a little stretched out but if you look on the bottom right hand corner there is a video link. The video is titled “Heroic Treason: Son of Hamas leader converts to Christianity and lives in the U.S.” Made me laugh, just thought I would let you all know the “truth” that Fox News finds newsworthy.
Back to the point–now that we have seen what the news tells us (which is our main source of information, so I’m going to use that as my source for the sake of argument). What do we do? How do we stop this? The death toll is above 420 and the injured is above 2,100. When is enough enough?
If this is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.. why is no one doing anything about it?
THAT my friends, is the question of the year.
Make sure you pray extra hard this year, we’re going to need it.
“Those who show patience, and self-control; who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend (in the way of Allah); and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning. ” (Aal-Imran, Verse 17)
And never forget:
“On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray:) “Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith.” (Al-Baqarah, Verse 286).