As the U.S. –provided bombs have temporarily stopped killing Palestinian children, the world breathes a sigh of relief, and turns to such important issues as the wedding of Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt. Yet for the people of Palestine, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, such earth-shattering issues as that must still take a back seat; survival trumps everything else.
Israel has oh-so-generously agreed to stop bombing Palestinians, reopen some borders, and extend Palestinian fishing rights to six miles, from the current three. Although, in practice, Israeli terrorists, generally referred to as IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers, shoot Palestinians as soon as their boats leave shore. None of the current concessions should be considered some magnanimous gesture; this is only allowing the most basic of human rights that every living being is entitled to. Additionally, Israel has made these concessions on paper before, most recently in 2012, but has not adhered to them.
The stated goals of Israel have mostly been achieved: tunnels used to smuggle in goods that Palestinians desperately need, but that Israel forbids them to have, were destroyed. But the most important goal of Israel, that of destroying the newly-formed Palestinian government that united Fatah with Hamas, was not met. The estrangement between Hamas, the governing body in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the puppet-government of Israel and the U.S. in the West Bank, was often cited by Israel as a major impediment to any lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, a peace Israel has no interest in achieving. By blaming Hamas for the murder of three settlers, Israel justified its brutal crackdown, first in the West Bank, with mass arrests, including arrests of children, home invasions and general terror, and then its open genocide in the Gaza Strip.
That the government of the Gaza Strip resisted cannot be criticized; a people under brutal occupation have not only the right, but also the responsibility to resist. Yet, like the school boy who, when asked, ‘Why did you hit him?’ responds with, ‘Because he hit me back’, the U.S. and Israel only saw Palestinian resistance as aggression, and Israeli aggression as defense. But that myth, so widely accepted for decades, has begun to unravel, thanks in large part to social media. And it is social media that must be utilized to assure that the horrendous suffering of the Palestinian people is now alleviated.
This writer has a young friend in the Gaza Strip who, miraculously, survived the most recent massacre. His house is gone, a victim of Israeli bombs; three younger brothers were badly injured, and several cousins killed. During the onslaught, he and his family went days without food or water; the desperation he felt was clearly conveyed to this writer, the few times he was able to be in contact. Now his concern is rebuilding his life, and that of his family, community and nation. He is currently seeking employment as a ‘fixer’, a person working with journalists to introduce them to people to interview, provide language translation, and generally assist them in their research, interviews, filming, etc. He is one of the lucky ones; since he speaks English, and has lived his life in the Gaza Strip, he will, hopefully, get such work. But due first to the brutal blockade, and secondly to the horrendous bombing and invasion, there is little employment to be found in the Gaza Strip. International aid is desperately needed immediately.
Some countries have volunteered assistance. Among others, Venezuela is sending several million dollars, and Turkey is sending a ship to provide electricity. But the question remains: will Israel allow this aid to enter? In the past, promises to open borders have not been kept, and the global community has been silent.
Governments throughout the world have had little to say protesting Israeli genocide, but their citizens have been more vocal. They have used Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to broadcast, often in graphic pictures, the horrors that were being perpetrated by a powerful country on its weakened colony. And now, with a cease-fire in effect, the world’s citizens must assure that Israel does not prevent the aid so desperately needed in Palestine from getting there.
Additionally, as people look to the Gaza Strip, their view must not be deflected from the West Bank, where arrests of children, arbitrary checkpoints, Israeli-only roads, illegal settlement building and house demolitions continue to be commonplace occurrences. Israel’s goal of demoralizing the Palestinian people into submission has not been successful, despite its herculean efforts. The resiliency of the Palestinian people is truly remarkable, and they are entitled to the respect and constant encouragement and support of human-rights advocates the world over.
Should Palestine look to that self-proclaimed beacon of freedom and human rights, the United States, for assistance? Palestinians might just as well await the arrival of Santa Claus. The desire for the welfare, independence and dignity of Palestine is as real in the U.S. government as is the jolly fat man who drops through chimneys bringing toys once a year. The U.S.’s elected officials (one hesitates to refer to them as ‘representatives’) are beholden only to the lobbies who donate so generously to their reelection campaigns, and not to anything as mundane and tawdry as the ‘will of the people’, or even basic human dignity. And the Israeli lobby is very generous to those who dance to its tune, and U.S. elected officials are very willing to dance for it.
But it wasn’t governments that brought about an end to apartheid in South Africa. It wasn’t governments that accomplished the end of the Vietnam War nearly forty years ago. It was people, the world over, who said ‘enough’. And those atrocities were ended without the means of social media, an excellent tool now available to all. The international community must demand relief for people in the Gaza Strip, and justice for Palestine. The stakes are too high, the cost in blood too extreme, for this to be ignored.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).