Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I held this post for a week, not being sure what exactly I wanted to say; and not liking fights. Talking about Israel is a good way to get into fights.

I am horrified by the current Israeli attack on Gaza, which was timed for just before the Israeli elections, a way for the ruling party to show they are tough on Arabs, which is the way to win elections in Israel. As you doubtless know, the Gaza Strip has been blockaded, leaving the people without adequate food, water, fuel and medical supplies. The Dignity, a ship from Cyprus carrying medical supplies and doctors to the Strip, was rammed and shot at by the Israeli navy in international waters and had to limp to safety in Tyre. I read one report that said people in Gaza are gathering grass to eat.

Journalists and outside observers have not been allowed into Gaza, presumably to keep the world from learning what is happening there.

We do know the following. The children are malnourished. Many have lost hearing due to sonic booms, as the Israeli air force flies over and over, deliberately causing the deafening noise. (Imagine living with repeated sonic booms. Loud noise can be torture.) 50% of the children see no reason to live, according to one study.

One fifth of all US foreign aid goes to Israel. Three billion dollars a year,according to a report I read yesterday. This isn't a lot of money in an era when we give tens of billions of dollars to bankrupt banks, and when we are talking about an 800 billion dollar stimulus package for the US economy. But it's more than the US is giving to any other country, including the desperately poor countries of Africa.

Most of the aid is military aid. We are paying for the weapons used against the Dignity and the children of Gaza.

Don't write comments telling me about Palestinian crimes. I'm not interested. People who are oppressed and desperate will strike back. It's human nature. When the Dakota were starving on their reservations during the Civil War -- when the agent responsible for their welfare said, "Let them eat grass" -- they rose up, and innocent people died, along with the guilty. (The Indian agent was killed and his mouth stuffed full of grass. I'd put him down as one of the guilty dead.)

What should be done?

Tell the US government we don't like the way our money is being spent. Phone or email your congresspeople. American politicians are firmly committed to Israel, but 70% of the American people think the US should not be taking sides. We need to remind the politicians over and over that they are not representing the voters on this issue.

Give to organizations that are helping the Palestinians or trying to get their story to the world. The Middle East Children's Alliance is one. The Electronic Intifada is another.

Refuse to buy anything from Israel.

Encourage the organizations to which you belong to consider divesting any investments they have in Israel and Israeli businesses.

Stand up for people who are harassed because they criticize Israel.

There are many places to go for more information. There is an essay by Richard Falk online in The Huffington Post. It's worth reading. Falk is the UN's rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories.


Blogger Nancy Ewart said...

The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.

There cannot be peace until this changes. For Israel will not rely on airy guarantees and international gestures to defend it. At its very core, it will not. It will lay down its arms when the Jews are safe, but it will not do it until they are.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Nancy Ewart said...

Opps - forgot to add that the quote is from Daniel Finkelstein at The Times.

7:17 PM  

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