Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Luxurious Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

Chapter 1: Conditioning the mind

"This August, a group of 40 international human rights activists from 15 countries, including Palestinians and Israelis, will attempt to sail directly from the island of Cyprus into the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza. I will participate as the ship's doctor. Two ships, provided by an organization called the Free Gaza Movement, will challenge Israel's policy of imprisoning 1.4 million Palestinians within the Gaza Strip."

So begins BILL DIENST's tale of Palestinian woes, here.

"Gaza stands on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe, with its population confined in a crowded area to which land, sea and air entry are all controlled by the Israeli military. Israel ... it denies the vast majority of the population access to ... medical care and basic necessities. "

" People are dying from lack of access to medical facilities, which are held up on the borders.. " reports Stefanos Evripidou of the Cyprus Mail.

Chapter II: Gleeful Anticipation of horrors to come

"In a statement issued as they departed yesterday, the activists said they would lodge a legal protest against any attempt by the Israelis to arrest them.

"If Israel chooses to forcibly stop and search our ships, we will not forcibly resist," a statement said.

"If we are arrested and brought to Israel, we will protest and prosecute our kidnapping in the appropriate forums ... it is our purpose to show the power that ordinary citizens have when they organise to stand against injustice." (Source)

Chapter III: Disappointed Expectations

Today, the story reached its anticlimactic end. Having breathlessly anticipated a confrontation with Israel's military navy, shootings, searches and hopefully maybe arrests, the two yachts sailed on an undisturbed journey and reached safe harbour earlier today.

"We knew about this Hamas attempt to create a PR event at sea for weeks," Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesmen Arye Mekel told the Israel News Agency.

"We knew who's on these boats and what they contain, and therefore we decided weeks ago to allow them to come into Gaza. They were not carrying weapons and had only a handful of equipment for the hearing impaired.

...According to the Israel Defense Forces, approximately 300 humanitarian trucks filled with food, medical supplies and fuel pass daily into Gaza. "Gaza has food," says Mekel. "They only thing they lack is freedom and democracy."

Under the security closure imposed by Israel in June 2007 after Hamas violently attacked the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, Israel has allowed tons of UN supplied humanitarian supplies into Gaza." (Source)

Chapter IV: Blogger's Note

Juxtapose the following statement:

"Gaza stands on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe... [its population actively denied] medical care and basic necessities. "

with this report:

"The mission is intended to challenge the economic blockade imposed by Israel and deliver a cargo of 200 hearing aids for a deaf school and 5,000 balloons. "

When you rush to a place where you expect to find severe humanitarian crisis, do you bring Tylenol, Advil, penicillin, baby food, flour, rice, oil, eggs? Or do you bring 200 hearing aids and 5,000 balloons?

And are we allowed to deduce from the incongruity between the declared mission with the actual cargo, that the activists had never really been seriously worried about humanitarian crisis, but were using this grim terminology to incite hostility and resentment towards Israel?

Here is a roundup of the latest humanitarian crises taking place in the world:

Somalia: "The UN Food Program and UN children's fund (UNICEF) said in a news release that up to 70 percent of the rural population in the south are threatened by food shortages, and some 36 percent of children in Somalia are underweight, with one in six is suffering from acute malnutrition." (source)

ZIMBABWE: "..doctors went on strike yesterday and aid officials warned of an impending humanitarian crisis that could see at least 5-million people facing chronic food shortages because of one of the worst harvests on record." (Source)

Georgia: "International pressure is mounting against Moscow over its conflict with Georgia as fears of a humanitarian crisis grow.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said he was "extremely concerned" about the humanitarian situation, lawlessness and lack of access for aid workers in parts of Georgia." (Source)

The Philippines: "Aid agencies are working furiously to avert a humanitarian crisis in the souther Philippines. An estimated 160-thousand people have fled their homes following renewed fighting between the army and Muslim rebels." (Source)

Ethiopia: "The humanitarian crisis prevails in Ethiopia four months after the initial mobilization of resources and response to the needs of vulnerable people hit hardest by the drought and food insecurity. People living in drought-affected regions of the country urgently need food, water, emergency treatment for malnutrition and support to recover and rebuild livelihoods devastated by the drought. " (Source)

The list goes on. But you'll have to do your own legwork. If you care.

So what explanation can anyone advance about the media blitz around this cheap show, the frantic declarations of solidarity, the avowals of outrage and pity for Palestinians in Gaza, who are de-facto acknowledged not to be in a humanitarian crisis?

I think I may have hit on the answer when I did a short research about the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. He stated on one occasion:

"Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you, not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy, because it enjoys unlimited support. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because the Jews are the center of attention. You’ve brought us defeat and renown.”

You can draw your own conclusions about the meaning concealed of this confession.

What I want to know is how long will the UN continue to coddle and indulge the victimhood of Palestinians while the world continues to ignore the very real suffering, the killing, the maiming, the starvation, of genuine victims, whose enemies are people no one cares to challenge or destroy.


At 12:54 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you keep up on all things Israel. You might be interested in this which is currently in Foreign Affairs magazine...which you should be familiar with.

Israel's Original Sins

by Shlomo Ben-Ami

Israel should pull back settlements and give up its '67 gains in order to secure its '48 victory.

At 10:21 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...


The review suffers from one big no-no in academic, or analytical, writing: the reliance on one book and one author (Morris) for explaining historical events. He should have at least mentioned Morris' challenger, Efraim Karsh, who published a book detailing all the mistakes and "distakes" committed by Morris in the book that Ben Ami admires so much. He also provided more recently, a very thorough scrutiny of what was happening within the Arab side during those momentous years of war.

His solutions are old news. Israel is still waiting for the Palestinians to decide that they actually want statehood. When they do get there, I daresay the lines can be drawn to fit Ben Ami's solution...

At 6:41 AM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

A superb post, if I am allowed to say so.



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