The Coalition for Palestinian Rights (CPR)

A Minnesota based Palestinian Solidarity Coalition

Gaza Massacres; The Time is Now

Posted by Administrator on January 4, 2009

Please, everyone, stop what you’re doing. This is not just any report from
Palestine, but the worst in my lifetime, the worst in 40 years. At this
moment, Israel is raining bombs down on Gaza, an enclosed tiny area that
is home to 1.5 million men, women, and children, most of them innocent
civilians. This space is tightly sealed by Israel, which constantly denies
Gazans electricity, food, medicine, and the ability to leave. Gaza is one
big prison being bombed from above. The death toll is up to 428 in the
past 7 days. That’s more than the number of Israelis killed in the last 7
years. This is what I would call a massacre.
 
Yes, more Palestinians killed in 7 days than Israelis in 7 years, and yet
no comments from President Bush or President-elect Obama. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice places blame solely on Hamas for holding Gazans
“hostage,” as if Israel’s actions were beyond judgment. Would Rice ever
respond to a Palestinian attack on Israelis by blaming the Israeli
government for holding its citizens hostage with their army’s violence?
 
I am writing you from Jordan. I arrived the day after the attacks began.
The day before they began, my friend and colleague Hannah had asked me to
deliver a book of poetry to her friend Summer in Gaza, hoping I’d manage
to make it on a Free Gaza boat. Since then, these boats bringing unarmed
witnesses to Gaza (www.freegaza.org) have been attacked in international
waters, and Summer’s house has been blown to pieces, her brother almost
died under the rubble, and her father desperately needs an operation but
the hospitals are overflowing. In every home or shop I enter in Jordan,
people are huddled watching the stories unfold: a family killed in their
home, a university destroyed, a pharmacy blown to pieces, countless bloody
babies screaming or worse, silent.
 
I wonder if people in the US are also seeing the bodies and faces or, as I
fear, only some rubble and angry Gazans. The day after attacks began,
Israel’s largest newspaper Yediot Aharonot covered almost the entire front
page with the words, “500,000 Israelis Under Attack!” In smaller font, one
could learn that in addition to 1 Israeli, 225 Palestinians had also been
killed. It was surreal. Consider where you are getting your news, and what
is not being told to you.
 
For example, the stated purpose of the attack is to drive out Hamas, i.e.
to kill anyone in Hamas and scare the rest into turning against Hamas. Not
only does this tactic not work (brutality fosters violence), but it
clearly fits the definition of terrorism: unlawful violence intended to
frighten or coerce a people or government in order to achieve a political
or ideological agenda. Israel is operating as a terrorist state in the
true sense of the word.
 
Hamas is also a terrorist organization by this definition, so it would be
easy to simplify the conflict as “an endless cycle of violence” were there
no historical context. But there is a context, and there are alternatives:
Let us remember that Hamas was elected after an intentional shift away
from violence towards a mainstream political agenda. Hamas stopped its
attacks and began offering the Palestinian people an alternative to the
corruption of Fatah. Hamas was democratically elected and immediately
strangled by a US-led boycott, preventing the government from functioning.
Hamas continued to hold to its one-sided ceasefire (totaling almost 2
years), meanwhile the US and Israel began to train and arm the opposition
government, Fatah, which they preferred. In response to plans for a coup
in Gaza (anti-democratic takeover by the US-supported opposition
government), Hamas secured its control (again, democratically-elected
whether or not we like them) over Gaza, and continues to offer Israel an
indefinite ceasefire – no more violent attacks, period – if Israel simply
complies with international law. The Arab League (comprised of 22 Arab
nation members) has offered the same. These offers are dismissed by Israel
and silenced in the US media. Israel says it has tried everything else,
but it has not tried the most obvious: complying with international law
and accepting repeated offers for a peaceful resolution.
 
As events unfold in Gaza neither the media nor the people are silent here
in Jordan, where people refuse to go on as if nothing were happening to
their brothers and sisters (sometimes literally – more than 60% of
Jordan’s population is Palestinian refugees). Just one day after attacks
began, the king of Jordan gave blood to send to Gaza and inspired hundreds
of others to do the same (meanwhile President Bush was on vacation in
Texas). Spontaneous demonstrations have erupted at least twice here in the
capitol today, and thousands are protesting in various major cities around
the Middle East and around the world.
 
Please, wherever you are, do something. Write a letter to the editor. Get
a large group to inundate your congressperson at once. Protest! There are
demonstrations being organized around the US. If there isn’t one happening
near you, then do what I would do: buy a poster-board and large marker and
write something on it (“Gazans Are People Too,” “Massacre in Gaza: Silence
is Complicity,” “Our Weapons Are Killing Palestinian Children,” or
anything you can think of). Go outside and stand on a busy corner with it.
Force others to confront the reality. Talk to people, invite them to join
you. People around the world are empowered enough to take to the streets;
we have no excuse not to. The time is now.
 

 Anna Baltzer

http://www.annainthemiddleeast.com/

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