Friday, January 23, 2009

Occupation: the elephant in the room

And so its done; the curtain has been draw. After months, and by some estimate, a couple of years, of careful preparation, laying the groundwork, massaging public opinion, crafting a Gulf of Tonkin; immaculate timing; hasbara campaign: its a wrap folks! Just in time to make way for an Historic American inauguration, we are reminded again and again.

Intent on proving his critics wrong, Obama wasted no time in reminding them of America's resolve and tenacity: We will defeat you.

But noticeably missing from the talk was any mention of Israel or Palestine.

Fair enough, it was a big moment on its own, no need to weigh it down with a bloody and distant conflict that you will spend the next 4-8 years getting mired down in anyway -or miring down further.

And so as we are told, Obama hit the ground running. The next day, the newly minted President in his first speech talked about the need to open Gaza's crossings-because as any casual observer might have gleamed from this recent "cycle of violence" it is that in order to have a "lasting ceasefire" we must give Israel security, and open Gaza's crossing (in case you aren't sensing it, I'm being sarcastic here).

But the devil is so often in the detail-not in what was said, but what was not. Notably missing from the call was a need to open the crossing to people as opposed to merely humanitarian aid and commerce, as though the Gaza problem can be vanished by tons of food.

It was this very clause that was negotiated to inclusion in the Agreement on Movement and Access brokered by none other than Condie rice herself shortly after Disengagement: the need to provide Access and Movement for goods AND people, and keep the crossings operating on a continuous basis. Of course, this never materialized: neither in percentage of trucks allowed in or out, nor the promised Palestinian control over Rafah within one year. OCHA keeps a good record of weekly violations of the AMA as a reference.

Obama also said the US "will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime so that Hamas cannot rearm". See this had me a little confused- because I thought it was Israel with the Merkava tanks, F 15 and F 16s, white phosphorus, DIME, and nukes.

Regardless, none of this will matter. If Palestinians are not granted their most basic human right of freedom of movemen, the tunnels will continue to thrive.

So I'm going to throw something out here that might sound a bit out there- hold your breathe everyone: how about we actually try ending the occupation instead of coming up with a million and one excuses why we shouldn't?

Notice the pattern vis a vis any Palestinian group-whether it was Fateh and the PLo before, or Hamas now: they are and always will be terrorists (the PLO is still on the US terrorist list); once you negotiate, its only a process meant to serve as a cover for continuing settlement expansion and consolidation of the Occupation; if that doesn't work, cry foul and say you have no partner for peace- then bomb their security infrastructure and say they have to have better security before they become a partner. If the people elect someone else, start over.

For real change, why start by saying things like they are: if Israel has the right to defend itself, don't Palestinians have not only the right, but the obligation to both defend themselves and resist against an illegal occupation?


Blogger Dragonfly said...

I vote for Peace for Palestinians!
End occupation! End border controls!
I'd go a step further Laila. I'd say disarm Israel and Palestine and put a neutral peace keeping force at the borders or to occupy both Israel and Palestine - with goals and time lines that MUST be met, to ensure an end to hostile occupation. All the money that was intended to further Israels genocide on Palestine should now be used to rebuild Gaza and inject Gaza's and West Bank's economy to bring it into line with that of Israels. If one is allowed to have a defense force, then so too, should the other, since every country has the right to defend itself, no only Israel and the US.

Yes, I have a dream too MLK.

7:48 AM  
Blogger goda said...

I understand that your family has been through an imaginable amount of violence but I do believe truly that President Obama will implement and demand change in the region and I do think he can be influenced to see that Israel cannot have carte blanche in the region.

I sent an email inquiring about his middle eastern policy and I truly feel that Palestinians deserve their right to return to their homeland. I guess what I am trying to say is that Palestinians need a better PR department and Lobbyists.

Israel has lost a lot of support for invading a territory of people who can barely feed themselves.

I don't just hope for peace for Palestine I hope for it's right to return to its homeland.

You should write about charities that help Palestinians, I would like to show my support not just through words.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I can't help but think about immigration to the US - particularly from the South....the US keeps signing "free trade" agreements arguing that GOODS must move freely, yet we build bigger walls to attempt to prevent the movement of PEOPLE --people who often don't want to leave their land, yet can't make ends meet because of "free trade," U.S. imperialism, and corporate globalization.

Obviously the situation in occupied Palestine is quite different, yet there are these parallels around control of goods and people.

Thank you for your blog!!

Take care,
Oakland, CA

10:40 AM  
OpenID ananosa said...

wonderful post Laila

I agree 100%

I am quite weary of our future. I can forsee assasnations.

May God help us.


10:59 AM  
Blogger Dragonfly said...

On another note, many of your readers express helplessness at not being able to do anything. Perhaps signing this petition will help
"Creation of a Special Tribunal to try Israeli War Criminals".
Laila you may want to consider setting up a link to it on your blog.
So far just over 8000 signatures registered.

2:44 PM  
Blogger MIchael said...

I vote for peace as well. I don't think any of normal people on earth want to fight with anybody.

I really want to know what occupation are you talking about? There is not a single Israeli inside the Gaza strip. All were thrown away in 2005 and turned into refugees inside Israel.

If Israel was disarmed of its forces, then we have not made till now. I'll remind you that Israel had quite a lot of wars since 1948, most of them not been started by Israel. So disarming a state with enemies in its borders its simply a death penalty to its people.

I can understand if Israel want to close its borders with Gaza or the West Bank. Why would you send help to your enemy when their goal is to destroy you? Moreover, therer were cases that Gazans themselves shoot on sites of products entry from Israel to Gaza, caused their own people not to recieve food.
Why they don't talk to their Egyptian brothers and ask them to open their borders? Israel are their enemy, why would they help them?

There was not genocide is Gaza. There are no plans for exterminating palestinians one by one. The only ones who Israel want's to banish are terrorists, who use citizens as human shields.

During war, innocent people do get hurt. During WW2 many citizens died out of the bombing of the Allies. Will you demand to put them on trial?

First step for establishing a Palestinian state, is understand the fact that Israel is not going anywhere. Its a fact. It exists. You cannot delete them from the map. If you want a country of your own, you can built one. But not instead of Israel, you can build that near Israel.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Rob Kent said...

Laila, I absolutely agree with you.

While everyone would like to see the cycle of violence come to an end, so long as the Israelis have a strangle-hold on all supplies and utilities in Gaza, and so long as Israel has all the military muscle, why should the Gazans not build tunnels with which to get supplies to both feed and defend themselves?

If the Gazans give up their tunnels, or the US and Egyptians manage to stop them, then Gaza is totally at the mercy of Israel. And to me, Israel does not appear at all like a merciful nation.

Having given up its tunnels and its weapons, Gaza would be completely helpless and Israel would have hold all the cards.

A better solution would be if the US and Europe stopped supplying arms to Israel (and money, in the US case). I have written to all the MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) for my region on this subject and received a sympathetic reply from some of them.

A group of MEPs put forward a resolution on the 13 Jan, which can be found on the European Parliament site.

To me, Gaza seems to be a large open air prison, similar to the Warsaw Ghetto. The graffiti left by the Israeli forces during the recent attacks exhibits a mindset reminiscent of that shown by the Germans to the Jews during the Holocaust, when Jews were not even seen as human beings.

Sadly, the sanitized News coverage of war these days (including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza) allows these dehumanizing portraits of other human beings to be unconsciously accepted by many people, or at least to go unchallenged.

Fortunately we now have alternative channels of information and those in power can no longer control the story. Smiling, self-satisfied Israeli spokespeople on our evening News are no longer trusted or even believable.

Everyone knows that this is a massive crime against humanity even if it is never legally proven.

Israel is becoming a pariah nation and I wonder how those prominent Israelis feel knowing that they can no longer safely travel to Europe without fear of being arrested.

5:01 PM  
OpenID said...

I want nothing more than peace -- and I mean peace everywhere, not just in the Middle East -- but realistically it's not going to happen overnight. I know you are afraid for your family and I am, too. All we can do is hope and try to get more awareness out there. You are doing a great job with this blog.

What else can we do to get people to see how important it is to have peace in the Middle East?

9:22 PM  
Blogger Foulla said...

Dear Laila,
Last week,I was wearing a scarf with "peace" written on it in different languages.Usually I feel kind of "good" when I have this "peace' statement on me, but last week I felt awkward, coward and ...very bad.
I went back home, and thought about this new weird feeling..
What I concluded was that I sincerely cannot talk about peace while there is no war, it's an occupation people and it should end first. Israel should apologize to the palestinians for a the atrocities and genocides witnessed by the whole "civilized" world..and if this sounds like a weird wish...than be it!
I so "endorse" this post!

9:51 PM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...

I am also disappointed by Obama's response to this issue. But I think we need to give credit too, when it comes up. It was a good step for him to talk about the need for humanitarian aid to go in there.

9:57 PM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...

Michael: I am so glad to hear that you feel there is no occupation, in Ghaza or presumably the West Bank. Because I was just now planning to invade and cluster bomb your neighborhood. I recognize you have done nothing wrong yourself, but there is a sexual predator living within a mile of your house, and you have allowed him to live there. In the interest of protecting all of our security, I therefore feel it is a moral obligation to use phosphorous bombs on your entire neighborhood. Please note, this is in no way an occupation, but simply a legitimate defense. After all, I have the right to defend myself and my children.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Faroha said...

These are the double standards of the West.As the Syrian president said, it is hypocrisy of the West that has made the conflict worse. Why is it that they criticize the tunnels so much? Don't they realize that Gazans would not need the tunnels if the borders were open?Mr Robert is right, Israel does not seem to be a merciful nation. THey are so myopic that they can't see how much they have damaged their own cause by this violent attack on Gaza. Hamas's popularity is going to soar and people will be more likely to overlook their flaws. It's Israel vs Hamas and so far, Hamas is winning hands down.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Dragonfly said...

I think Michael is on drugs on again!
"If Israel was disarmed of its forces, then we have not made till now. I'll remind you that Israel had quite a lot of wars since 1948, most of them not been started by Israel. So disarming a state with enemies in its borders its simply a death penalty to its people."
So is this true for Palestine too?
Oh, I forgot, you don't recognise Palestine, you already consider it part of Israel...silly me.

4:29 AM  
Blogger Pedro said...

only a few people can feel the pains of both sides when it comes to the pali israeli conflict.
If that were not tragic..,it would be almost comical.
The fellows that cry.., feel for the victims when a suicide bomber does blow himself in a jerusalem bus.., are the ones who feel nothing when 50 children are blown up in Gaza.
And the reverse is true.
The ones who cry for the children of Gaza..., feel almost happy when a martyr does blow himself in a Israeli Pizzaria.

When it comes to our sensibility we are savages.

We feel the pain of the ones who belong to our own group.

When it comes to the ennemy..., he can be blown up.

We could not care less.

This is true for the pro Israelis and the Pro Palestinians.

They are alike.

People claim Obama.., US.., has double standarts.

I admit it is so.

But Arabs.., also have double standarts.

Look at Dafour.
Thousands.... get killed.
Millions expelled.

Arab league could not care less.

And even when it comes to Gaza..., the powerfull Saudis look the other way when the killing was going on.

Since Hamas was considered to be pro Iranian.., the Saudis..., well.., looked the other way while hundreds of pali homes were being razed to the ground.

5:00 AM  
Blogger Pedro said...

if Israel has the right to defend itself, don't Palestinians have not only the right, but the obligation to both defend themselves and resist against an illegal occupation?

My comment :

If we place in the same room you ( completely convinced pali have the right to resist ocupation ) , and Livni ( completely convinced that Israelk must fight terror ) , there would be a fight.

Neither Israel should have the right to fight @ terror @ blowing up innocent children.., neither should palis have the right to fight ocupation in a violent way.

People should talk, instead of fight.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Yonit said...

Has Hamas or Hezbollah ever apologized for the rockets and suicide bombs?

8:42 PM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...

Yonit: the IDF doesn't either. That's the problem- no one is repenting, no one is contrite, no one is willing to love their enemy.

9:14 PM  
Blogger MIchael said...

Everybody has the right to defend himself.

I have not seen any legitimate Israeli politician says that "Palestinians should be all slaughtered", mainly muslims do the opposite about Israelis.

sad facts.

3:44 AM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...

Michael, what is sad is that you are so unaware. Not only are you quite obviously comparing apples and oranges (legitimate Israeli politicians with "many Muslims"), but yes, there have just recently been Israeli leaders who have used language similar to slaughter to talk about what they want to do in Ghaza. And the vast majority of Muslims don't want to slaughter all Israelis, nor even the vast majority of Palestinians. Your next statement will be that there are some, too many, and I will agree, because one is too many, and then I'll remind you of Timothy McVeigh, who I assure you does not represent me.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Edila said...

Israel need to be punished for all the massacre against the palestinians, self defense it just a excuse to kill used by israel, hamas rockets are dangerous as fire works.

God bless the palestinians!
Edila - porto alegre

10:35 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

First I would like to extend my sympathies to your family and everyone in Gaza for what has happened in the last two months – and half century.

I don’t want this to sound like blaming the victim, but I have an honest question. Why is there so little talk about Hamas’s choice for violent opposition to the occupation? Wouldn’t that be the real game changer? The violence, the pointless shooting of rockets, the suicide bombers, all the carnage of the last decades, it all plays into the hand of the worst elements in Israel. Would the real way to disempower the occupation be non-violence? Hamas cynically uses weapons of minimal destruction, taunting Israel until it responds as expected. The winners? Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, and Hamas. The losers? The Gazans. Why does the right to resist need to be the right to kill?

4:47 AM  

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