I woke up to beautifully quiet and snowy streets in Boise today. I went for a bicycle ride with my new snow tires to pick up some groceries at the Boise Coop and the serene feeling I got from the weather was interrupted. There are new products for sale that I had not noticed before. Putamayo now has a CD for sale there of “Israeli” music. This is not the first time the Coop has sold products with such a label. Right before I moved to Palestine a few years ago I noticed the deli counter sold something with a rather oxymoronic name: “Israeli couscous.” I’m not sure when Zionists started claiming the Maghreb as part of their territory, but at least in terms of cuisine it appears that they have.
Despite the clean white snow outside my window, I also woke up thinking again about Gaza. A place I’ve never been, but a place I can only imagine seeing the sort of total devastation the Zionist state can unleash in other parts of Palestine and in Lebanon. Every day seems as if the situation in Gaza cannot get any worse and yet it does. I’m thinking about the things my friend Josie witnessed on her trip there last week. While I am able to come into my apartment and turn on the heat, use my computer without interrupted electricity, people in Gaza are subjected to power cuts that affect not only people’s private spaces, but also public spaces such as hospitals.The death toll continues to rise–35. No 37. How many Palestinians have to die at the hands of the U.S.-Israel death squads before the world wakes up? A friend just called and described images she saw of body parts on trucks–torsos, limbs. A friend reported on her radio show that there are no more coffins in Gaza. There are more funerals than weddings. And what does the world do? Do they listen to those who do bear witness? Do people listen? Do people know? Even when I was in Palestine a couple of months ago it seems as if Palestinians who are not in Gaza appear to be increasingly detached from what is going on. The myth of “security,” which only ever means security for Israelis, always seems to mean insecurity, suffering, death, and a slow genocide for Palestinians. This genocide takes many forms. It is a slow starvation by plowing people’s land so they cannot grow food, by closures making it impossible for Palestinians to import or export food or any other products, by forbidding ill Palestinians from leaving to receive medical treatment, by not allowing essential medical supplies or equipment inside to treat people in Gaza hospitals. Fishermen who want to fish risk being fired on by Israeli Occupation Forces. The list could go on and on.
This was all in the background of Bush’s recent visit to Palestine. His travels through Palestine did not include Gaza. Nor did it include any refugee camps for that matter. Even his movement through checkpoints were devoid of the reality of suffering at the hands of the U.S.-Israel. But Bush did make a statement about Gaza, which indicates that he, too, is separated not only from the geographical space of Gaza but also its reality:
In the first phase of the so-called roadmap that Bush boasts of having revived, Palestinians are supposed to build the institutions of a responsible state. Yet Israel and the US continue to do all they can to undermine this laudable goal by blatantly taking sides in the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. Bush’s comment yesterday in Ramallah about the situation in Gaza was one of history’s most extraordinary examples of tunnel vision. “Hamas has delivered nothing but misery for Palestinians,” he declared. Had he said, “My reaction and that of my Israeli and European Union colleagues to the mandate given Hamas by Palestinian voters has delivered nothing but misery for Palestinians”, he would have been closer to the truth.
The human catastrophe deliberately inflicted on Gaza by western policies over the past two years is one of the great crimes of this century so far. It is especially unjustified since Hamas had been observing a truce in its attacks on Israelis for several months prior to winning the “free, fair and open elections” that the roadmap asked for. Hamas was, and continues to be, punished not for its occasional use of violence but simply for being popular. And, as often happens with sanctions, it is not the leaders who suffer, but the whole civilian population of the territory – deprived of medicine, adequate food, public services and jobs. Rather than pursuing the chimera of a final settlement that would mean nothing without Hamas’s endorsement, western policy should focus on more manageable humanitarian and political goals: lifting the boycott of Hamas, promoting Palestinian unity, and forcing Israel to end its brutal siege of Gaza.
The logic of Bush baffles me. The irony of it all. And, of course, the hypocrisy of it all. The U.S. is somehow allowed to “defend” itself against Iraq, a country that never attacked the U.S. and that has instead been under attack via embargoes and bombings since Bush the first and through Clinton. But Palestinians who are literally under siege on a daily basis are not allowed to resist, to defend themselves. I’m so sick and tired of waiting and trying to get people to understand, to see that Palestinian resistance by any means is entirely justified given the conditions they’ve endured for sixty years. The Zionist state is, of course, no better with the recent moniker of “hostile entity” that they bestowed upon Gaza enabling them to perform their various forms of massacre and annihilation on a daily basis. Again, the height of ironies given that it’s the Zionist state that is hostile. Here is a recent montage/video that demonstrates how young Israeli children are indoctrinated into the world of militarization:
For people who are disgusted by all of this and want to do something, there are things you can do to learn more, for starters check out Free Gaza. And the people who miraculously manage to get medical supplies in always need funds: Middle East Children’s Alliance.