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GAZA IN CRISIS

April 26, 2009

Kristopher Floyd – Special to LIBRE! 1/31/09

Gaza: School houses lying in mounds of burning rubble, streets potholed and shattered by artillery fire, women wailing and father’s weeping over the hastily dug graves of their sons and daughters. It is from this heap of broken images that I ask: where has America’s honor gone?

A hopeless situation

The Gaza Strip is one of the most miserable and densely populated places on earth. It currently covers 139 square miles of rather useless and desolate land and has a population of about one and one half million, creating a density of about 10,700 people per square mile. These figures tell us that if every Palestinian in Gaza was given an equal portion of his state he would have only 6% of one acre on which to live. It is in this cramped condition (one that a senior Vatican cardinal recently likened to a concentration camp) that the besieged Palestinians rush about cleaning up the heaps of rubble that used to be school buildings, hospitals, and private businesses; 14 percent of all structures in Gaza have been destroyed and the total price tag for the damage stands at about two billion dollars. The lives of about 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have also been destroyed, while 4,000 more lie wounded in overcrowded and undersupplied hospitals.

Hundreds of the dead and about a quarter of those injured are children. It therefore takes no stretch of the imagination to wonder what the future of these hopeless and forsaken children will hold; it is prescribed to them. “So now we will have another generation of more aggressive behavior. They will go to more extremes because they have no future,” says Dr Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet, Gaza’s leading child psychiatrist, who points out that about 65 percent of young people in Gaza suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is the same disorder that plagues the minds of many American troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is no escape from this prison for the men, women, and children of Gaza; they are completely walled in by both Israel (to the north and east) and Egypt (to the south), while blockading Israeli warships cruise up and down the Mediterranean coast to the west. As the bombs and artillery shells (many of them decorated by Israeli schoolchildren with violent pictures and messages) rain down upon defenseless neighborhoods on this hopeless scrap of Earth, tiny leaflets drop from Israeli warplanes warning civilians to evacuate their homes and seek safe shelter. In Gaza the line between civilian and military targets has vanished; it is a futile exercise of the mind to imagine which of these 139 square miles could be called safe shelter.

Who is guilty?

It is difficult to find an innocent party; one does not even need to look beyond the walled compounds of “Prison Camp Gaza” to find a culprit. The cowardly leadership of Hamas, whose officers hide in bunkers below hospitals (thus holding the hospitals and everyone inside hostage), has failed to replicate the recent success of Hezbollah and has instead elected to allow the civilian population of Gaza to bear the brunt of the attack. There have also been rumors of internal fighting amongst Hamas and Fatah, and accusations that Hamas has seized humanitarian supplies meant for Gaza’s battered civilian population. Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, is now sitting in his comfortable home in Syria praising Hamas for its victory. The facts that Hamas was unable to protect the Palestinian citizenry and was able to kill only 7 Israeli soldiers are apparently lost on Mashaal. His ab absurdo claim of victory is counterproductive in a world governed by facts rather than illusions.

But the circle of the guilty grows larger. The brethren of the besieged Palestinians, the nations of the Arab League, have largely used the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as a political tool against Israel and the West, behavior which in 1960 was pointed out by King Hussein as being “irresponsible” and “even criminal”. Egypt, the “mother of the Arab people”, is an excellent example of such a state; this ancient nation maintains a wall of separation between itself and the Gaza Strip, thus preventing its Arab brothers in Gaza from escaping their giant prison.

Even as the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, begged and pleaded for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, elements of the Egyptian military shot at fleeing Palestinians who had blown holes through the security wall in a desperate attempt to escape the chaos.

Other Arab League Nations have refused to allow the immigration and integration of Palestinian refugees, even as many of these nations desperately search for new sources of immigrant labor to work miles upon miles of untended land.

Many Palestinians would elect citizenship in another country over their hopeless situation, but many others still hold keys to their abandoned homes in Palestine and speak of the “right of return” with a misty, faraway look in their eyes.

In addition to these Arab nations, several European nations cannot escape blame, for it was the British and the French, among others, who waved their hands across the map and created these political boundaries in the Middle East which have proven to be nothing more than catalysts for destruction and mayhem.

But the most obvious and most injurious culprit in this arena is the nation of Israel. Ancient Israel ceased to exist as a state when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70AD. Now, nearly 2000 years later, it is this claim to the “promised land” that is fueling the carnage in Gaza. Israel has grown accustomed to such harsh treatment of its native Arab population since it became a state in 1948.

The list of atrocities is long and tragic, from the apartheid wall (a violation of several UN resolutions) to the use of white phosphorus on civilian populations (a violation of the Geneva Conventions). Israel justifies this recent incursion into Gaza by citing the Qassam rocket attacks that Hamas launches into Israel on a random basis. These assaults are extremely inaccurate and have killed less than 15 people in Israel over the past ten years.

While these attacks are in violation of international law, they come from a people that are prisoners in their homeland; people who starve because Israel refuses to allow trade and commerce beyond the walled confines of the 139 square mile cage. These desperate and largely ineffective rocket attacks hardly justify the disproportionate use of force that Israel has used upon the teeming masses in Gaza, and the suffering of Palestinian civilians that has resulted.

Yet the circle of blame grows even wider, and comes closer to home for those of us in the Land of the Free. For it is Americans who float the bill for this anarchy, to the tune of 6.5 million dollars daily in direct military aid to Israel, with that number set to rise to about 23 million dollars per day within the decade. Nearly every bullet fired from Israeli guns is paid for with tax dollars that come out of your pockets.

Our responsibility

Not since the times of the American Indian and the African American slave has this country so willingly sponsored the wholesale domination of a people. It is not enough that we directly fund this offensive behavior, but must we also be recorded in the annals of history as a nation that believes this type of behavior is acceptable? As we watch the horrors unfolding in Gaza, knowing full well that it would be absolutely impossible if only the American government would disapprove or refuse to fund such actions, does anyone hear a faint cry that is the death knell of American honor? We are a country that believes in liberty and justice.

If this is untrue today, then we have ceased to exist as the American Nation and the so called American Experiment has proven to be a failure. Hopefully this is not the case.

When one takes a step back and looks at the situation objectively, it becomes very clear how un-American our support for Israel truly is. Israel is a nation founded on a 2,000 year old claim. Can you imagine if every people claimed lands that belonged to their ancestors 2,000 years ago? Say goodbye to the USA! Israel regularly defies international law, murders civilians, practices racial segregation, and merges church and state thoroughly enough to make Thomas Jefferson roll in his grave. Israel also spies on America and steals her secrets (Jonathan Pollard is the outstanding example), robs American taxpayers, bribes American politicians, and has even sunk a United States naval vessel (the USS Liberty) without just cause.

Yet we support this terrifying nation unequivocally. The populations of Arab countries, and the world at large, know that we support Israel despite these astounding facts. Thus every time an Israeli bomb lands in a Palestinian neighborhood, new animosity is created and future enemies of the United States of America are born. This is antithetical to peace and progress. The former U.S. Attorney General under President Lyndon Johnson, Ramsey Clark, has said “the greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.” This is a true statement, and the situation in Gaza is the latest evidence to prove it.

So what is to be done about this crime? Obviously no one in our government is going to really stand up for the law. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has pointed out that Israel’s actions “may be” a violation of America’s Arms Export Control Act, but his half-hearted recognition of the obvious seems more like an argumentum ad captandum than a serious attempt to hold anyone accountable or make a real change to policy.

The responsibility falls to us, the citizens of this free nation. We must become a force that is strong enough to impose our will. We must stand up for justice and compel our government to cease this unpractical, unethical, unlawful, and dangerous support for Israel.

By supporting the continuation of one people’s dominance and another’s slaughter, we are doing nothing but showing the world our true colors. Those colors are not red, white, and blue. This article ends with the closing stanza from a poem called “Eye to Eye” written by a teenage Palestinian refugee, a young lady by the name of Gilad Ali:

“And if I am killed, it will be in Falasteen.
It’s written on my every breath.
So in your own patriotic words,
Give me liberty or give me death.”

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