We Need to Talk About Gaza

I lost my temper on Twitter the other week.

It had been a long day on a delayed train. I was sat in a hotel room while DorkySon slept and DorkyDad was out at work, and I was whiling away the time online. On one tab, I had the Guardian live feed of events in Gaza, and on another tab I had Twitter, where it seemed like half the people I follow were getting all excited about I’m A Celebrity, and the other half were taking part in a sponsored discussion about Christmas presents.

What I should probably have done is turned the iPad off and gone to sleep, but I couldn’t. The rage had arrived.

Why are you all ignoring this?’ I tweeted.

Why is no-one talking about Gaza? What has to happen before we start paying attention to this? How many children have to be killed before we’re outraged?

I ranted on for a while, before finally giving up and turning the lights out. Perhaps luckily, I then spent ten days offline while we were on holiday.

But the questions have been rumbling around in my mind ever since and I’ve been trying to find a way to write about them in more detail. It is hard. I have started this post several times and deleted it because what I’ve written doesn’t seem adequate. I have a deeply emotional response to the situation without having the extensive background knowledge to make every argument in as perfect and coherent a way as I would like.

I am not an academic or an expert on the Middle East. I am neither Jewish nor Arab. I don’t always know the right terminology to use, or the exact dates of what happened when. Although I read a huge amount about the area and the history and the current politics, I have barely even made a dent in the mountain of literature that is available. But I feel like unless people with moderate voices start talking more about this, extremists on both sides will drown us out.

I have visited Israel and Palestine once – which is more often than a lot of people who deem themselves qualified to talk about it – and that is perhaps why I care so passionately about it. It means that I cannot see a news headline without thinking about the individuals behind it. I see stories rather than statistics, and if nothing else I think that my time there justifies my desire to write and express an opinion just as a human being – just as a person who cares about other people.

I am open to other opinions. There are people I like and have respect for who hold different positions to mine. I am willing to learn, and to accept that there are many things that I do not know, but I feel so strongly about what I do know that I can’t keep saying nothing.

I believe the biggest injustice – and the reason I feel so incredibly upset and angry about what is happening to the people of Gaza – is the inequality. This is not a fair fight between equals. It is a David and Goliath situation.

I don’t just mean in terms of the horrific outcomes, and the fact that the number of Israeli civilians killed or injured is so much smaller than the number of Palestinians killed or injured. Those figures are startling and do not support Israel’s assertion that it is acting in self defence, but I don’t think it is helpful to try and make a judgement about who is right or wrong based on who has suffered the highest number of losses. Who are we to judge the value of one life over another? Every incident is a tragedy, no matter whether it is an Israeli or a Palestinian who loses their life.

It is more the imbalance in terms of resources, strength and support that makes me feel so strongly about this. Israel is an occupying power. It is a well-armed, well-funded country, supported by other well-armed, well-funded countries, fighting against a ramshackle, poverty-stricken collection of people who are disadvantaged in almost every way.

It is a deeply unfair situation. As well as the on-the-ground advantage in terms of available weaponry and infrastructure, Israel holds the power that allows them to dictate the narrative every time things come to a head. On this most recent occasion, as on so many others, they claimed the attacks on Gaza were in self-defense – but if you look at the timeline of events it was they who broke the ceasefire.

I do not condone rocket attacks that target Israeli civilians – of course I do not – but here are the facts. The UN recognizes Israel as being an occupying power. In Gaza it controls the borders, the territorial waters, the airspace, the communications, the power supply, the water supply, the movement of goods (including food and medicine), the movement of people, and the access for journalists and NGOs.

International law states that if a country is being occupied, then it has the right to resist that occupation. So here is the question. If we cannot accept rockets being fired at southern cities in Israel – and we can’t – then what are the other means of resistance available to Palestinians in Gaza? How can they work productively to change their situation, and how can we help them?

International protests – both in the Occupied Territories and across the world – have made little difference. The Oslo Accords appear to have failed. Previous attempts to resolve things through the UN have been derailed. So what options are left?

We have to provide alternative routes to change, otherwise the cycle of small-scale violence initiated by Palestinians, and disproportionate responses from Israel will continue.

Save the Children say “As a matter of urgent priority for the health and wellbeing of Gaza’s children, Israel must lift the blockade in its entirety.”

Christian Aid say “Women and children are among the most badly affected. They have been directly exposed to life-threatening experiences that cause constant fear, shock and trauma. Men feel helpless and powerless to protect their families and loved ones. They are left speechless when their children talk about death more than they talk about life.”“Christian Aid believes the international community must do more to ensure that the rights and security of all are protected.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), say “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”

These are not organisations that are known for taking radical or extreme positions. They are charities that try and take care of the most vulnerable people in our societies – wherever that is needed – but their statements that change is needed seem unequivocal, and it is not the Palestinians who have the power to make that change.

So my second question – and this is the one that was troubling me the other night on Twitter – is why we aren’t talking about this more? Why aren’t we trying to help make that change? Why does it feel like we are scared to talk about it? After Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 the BBC refused to show the DEC Gaza Appeal (although Tony Benn did a fairly impressive one-man job of getting the information out anyway).

Why is that? Are we afraid of offending our Jewish friends and neighbours? Surely it is possibly to love those people dearly while at the same time having the courage to voice criticisms of the Israeli government. Two of the strongest pro-Palestinian campaigners in my time at Edinburgh University – in fact the two people who proposed the twinning of Edinburgh and Birzeit – were both Jewish. There is no more consensus in the international Jewish community than there is in the rest of us.

Is it because Israel has such support from the US and UK? Surely we have not become so afraid of our own Governments. We have protested against so many of their bad decisions before – from the Iraq War to NHS reform – so why not this one?

Is it that we feel we are not well enough informed to express an opinion? We do not know every detail of the historic situation in Syria either, or in many of the African countries where there is civil war, but that does not stop us speaking out and sharing petitions and having the courage to say when we think something wrong. Killing children is wrong. Killing civilians is wrong. We can say those things without feeling that we have to come down 100% in one camp or another.

At the very least, we have to start talking about this. It is our responsibility to inform ourselves just a little bit, to begin a conversation, learn from each other, challenge our preconceptions, and refine our arguments. That is just a little bit more important than Friday night reality television, no?

When I had my Twitter rant, a lot of people responded saying that they wanted to do something, but they felt powerless and didn’t know what to do and that was why they were burying their heads in the sand. I can understand that. That frustration and disempowerment is how I feel too – it’s why it has taken me two weeks to write this without getting upset about it.

But if you do care, and you do want to do something, here are some suggestions.

- Read more about the situation. I’ve linked to some articles and reports below that I’ve read over the last few weeks and have found myself nodding along agreeing with. There are literally thousands of books, articles, videos and blogs out there, addressing the situation from myriad perspectives.

- Donate to an international aid or humanitarian organisation that is helping in the area. Save the Children is my charity of choice, but Medical Aid for Palestinians, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, CAFOD, Christian Aid and many, many others are also running appeals at the moment.

- Support one of the Israeli or Palestinian organizations working for peace. Israeli Committee Against House Destructions, Jewish Voice for Peace and B’tselem are three well known ones.

- Sign the Avaaz petition calling on UN Member States to recognise the state of Palestine

***

Yossi Beilin in the New York Times – Support Palestinian Statehood

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian on US support for Israel

Seumas Milne in the Guardian on Palestinians’ Right to Defend Themselves

Oxfam – On the Brink report

Save the Children Report: Gaza’s Children Falling Behind

Save the Children’s Gaza Blog

UNICEF’s report on Children Affected by Armed Conflict

The Israeli and the Palestinian: ‘We have discovered a joint pain.’

Breaking the Silence

Rachel Corrie Foundation blog

Gaza Mom

Boxologies on academic boycotts

Israel and the Inconvenient Truth

Keryn Banks on Tumblr

Not my Year Off

Gaza – It Takes Two to Make Peace

Occupation Escalates

***

Midlife Single Mum is a parent blogger based in Jerusalem, and she has been kind enough to send me links to a few of her recent posts which offer a different perspective on the situation – Life in 15 Second Timeslots is Terrifying, Thoughts from the War, and A Reply to Comments on the War. I really appreciate her taking the time to do this, and remind us that there are difficulties and challenges faced by families on both sides of the border.

Rachel also recommended reading Through the Eyes of the Reservist, which is an incredibly powerful and well written piece, and this piece on Hamas by Melanie Phillips.

Marc Goldberg wrote a response to this post here, on his blog Marc’s Words

57 responses

  1. This is the kind of post that needs to be written about Gaza. I have posted on the Save The Children Gaza Crisis Appeal and donated, but that is all I have done. I can imagine what it has taken to put this post together and then have the courage to click ‘publish’. You make so many valid points, I can’t even begin to start pulling them out or this will become the longest comment ever. I will shout about this post in every way possible today.

  2. An intelligent and well argued post. But I wouldn’t conclude that Twitter frivolity means it’s being ignored. I had to double the length of a telephone interview I was doing last week because the actor in question and I got so distracted by the troubles of Gaza. But I setter clear of political or indeed any contentious debate on Twitter because tweets are too tiny a platform for measured argument and can easily, by their inevitable brusqueness, be misunderstood. But you’re right – I think there is too great a fear at government level – and in some newspapers – that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

    • That is probably very sensible of you, and keeps your blood pressure at a much better level than mine! I really enjoyed my time off Twitter on hols – and am making a big effort now we’re back to cut down on how much time I spend on there now.

      One of the main reasons I think it’s important for Joe Blogs (har har) to be ‘seen’ to be talking about it on social media is that Twitter & Facebook were so widely used by the key players during the most recent attacks. The IDF in effect announced the Operation on Twitter – http://rt.com/news/israel-gaza-war-hamas-825/ – and I think it’s important to counteract that official line with alternative and less well known narratives. I completely agree with you that nothing can be solved by people arguing with each other 140 characters at a time, but as a way of sharing links and disseminating information I think it can be useful.

      I will look forward to reading your interview – be sure to ping a link my way when it’s published xx

  3. I agree with everything that you say.

    I would add, though, that I think talking about such issues on Twitter and social media in general is difficult. I read about, donate to and spend a lot of time thinking about causes and situations including Gaza. With friends, I talk about them. Yet posting about them (especially when they are in the news) feels awkward, and (because Twitter etc are very one-dimensional) like jumping on a bandwagon. Where there are layers and layers of history and politics behind a desperate humanitarian crisis, it’s even harder to express what one feels in 140 characters. I blogged a while ago about Mrs Jellyby syndrome, and I know that ties my hands often.

    I agree that the answer isn’t not to talk about it. Avaaz campaigns etc; targeted campaigns which encourage specific actions (eg petitioning William Hague re UN proposals) come into their own here.

    It’s very difficult, but thank you for starting a conversation which needs to be had.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I agree with everything you say too! I’ve mentioned in my reply to Anna’s comment why I think using social media is important, but you’re completely right that if it’s not done with care and thought, it can be counter-productive (like when I lost my rag!). I think it’s brilliant that people are sitting down and talking about this with friends – I had some good and interesting chats with people in the States about it over Thanksgiving, and I was heartened that even though we come from completely different perspectives, we were able to respect each other and keep things extremely civil. That can be much harder online, can’t it? xx

  4. Super Post Ruth. For me it is a lot about just not understanding what is going on and why. I have tried in the past to find out more, but the more I read the harder I find it to understand. Taking it back to basics I find it very hard to actually believe that we could just give a religion a piece of land that wasn’t ours to give in the first place. I k ow that is far too simplistic, but I just can not get past that it is out fault that this is happening and we are not stepping in and putting a stop to it all.

    I also find it even harder to fathom as ,my background is Jewish, albeit Italian Jewish.

    • No, I don’t think that is too simplistic – I think you’re completely right – and that’s what I struggle to get my head around too. It makes it even more imperative I think that we (by which I mean the UK and US, not we personally) work hard to make things right and rectify this almighty mess that we’ve helped create.

      It’s just really hard to see how things can be turned around when that unquestioning support for Israel is so ingrained, and if you question it you are often deemed anti-semitic.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  5. Excellent post, Ruth. I’m hardly on Twitter these days and feel a little lost when I do dip in – especially if I walk into the middle of some ‘party’ or reality TV commentary.

    I feel I want to talk about Gaza, too, but I find it difficult to do so because:

    (a) I really, really, really do not understand what is happening and why – and most of the people I talk to about ‘important issues’ (quotes because what is important is so very subjective) also don’t understand

    (b) (which is really a part of (a)) I don’t know who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’ (if indeed anyone is). I have feelings and impressions and an inclination to believe that Israel is wrong, but I don’t *know* this to be the case

    (c) I feel very uncomfortable making moral judgements about other people’s belief systems or cultural traditions. But, as you say “Killing children is wrong. Killing civilians is wrong,” and I don’t think there should be any discomfort about saying that and standing up to anyone doing that.

    So. Thank you. Yes, we should talk about it. We shouldn’t bury our faces in the sand. But (much as I detest pretty much any and all reality shows), I don’t think we should stop talking about trivia and inanities, just because there is something bad happening. Because there is always something bad happening and the trivia and inanities help people to cope with the existence of bad. But let’s make sure we talk about the bad and why it is there and what we can do to help the bad go away – and not just this bad, but all bads.

    • **applauds wildly**

      Yes to all of this, you raise some very good points. Maybe part of the problem is that because the loudest and most dominant voices are the most extreme ones, we are inclined to see it as there being one ‘right’ side and one ‘wrong’ side, when in fact a peaceful solution would be the best answer for both sides. It has echoes of that whole ‘axis of evil’ terminology in the Bush years which attempted to erase individual stories and perspectives in favour of a comic book style fight between good and bad. Not helpful, but I don’t know how we get around that and give more airtime to moderate voices.

      Your last point is a good one – there will always be hard things happening in the world and it doesn’t mean we can stop having fun. I’ve been reading quite a few Gazan blogs recently and they say the same! If you live there, everything is political, but sometimes it’s important to switch off from that for your own sanity, and just write about what you had for dinner that night. I guess it’s a bit about finding a balance isn’t it – living your life, but also appreciating how lucky you are to be living a life free of violence, and maybe putting some work into helping others do the same.

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment, and sorry for the novel in response!

      Xx

      • I wonder if, like in other areas of the news, they need to find more female experts? I’ve been following the campaign for more female experts to be discussed in the media (http://thewomensroom.org.uk/) and I have a feeling that coverage of many issues, including Gaza, could be very different.

        Am going to talk about this post on Sunday in my new ‘Things that have made me think’ post.

      • Ooh, that’s a very interesting suggestion, and I suspect you may be right. I’ll look forward to reading your take on things on Sunday x

  6. I avoid talking about it. Which doesn’t make me happy, actually it makes me very far from happy that it’s a bit of a taboo subject around here. Annoyingly, the Jewish and Palestinian people I know I can talk with about it quite sensibly, but the Christians I know just go so badly off on one I can’t bear it most of the time. (And obviously I don’t mean all Christians there) After having to explain to the MIL again and again that Palestinians are just normal people like us (she had been told that if they are offered a toilet they won’t use it) I just got fed up. It’s actually a subject I feel very strongly about, having a friend from the Gaza Strip (as I told you on twitter ;o) ) who has written about his young nephew wanting to die because he had just had enough of the way he was forced to live. Its an awful situation and one in which everyone should concentrate fore-mostly on the fact that this is peoples lives we are dealing with. I try to speak up when I hear something over the top stupid, but it’s a tragedy that it can’t be discussed more or more sensibly.

    • Isn’t it odd how otherwise fairly rational and reasonable people can find it so impossible to talk about religion and politics with a clear head.

      One thing I like about having a blog is the feeling that even if I’m not well informed about something, I can use it as a space to host posts by people who do know a lot about a subject. I’d love to connect with some Palestinian and Israeli bloggers & let them tell their stories on here in their own voices.

      • I think that would be wonderful if you could do it. I think hearing ‘normal’ people’s viewpoints is so important in such a situation, and something we often don’t get in the mainstream media.

  7. You’ve hit on something so key here. I too feel very strongly about what’s happening and am appalled by the propaganda that is being perpetrated by an increasingly Zionist worldwide media, but I haven’t blogged or tweeted about it for a few reasons. Firstly, like you, I worry that I’m not in receipt of enough facts or educated to the extent that I would need to be to do this topic justice (although with this post you’ve proved that you’re exactly the woman for the job).

    Secondly, there is so much sensitivity surrounding ANY issue involving Jewish people because of what happened to them, not just during the war, but in the previous few thousand years of persecution and rightly so, TO AN EXTENT. However, as you say, the figures speak for themselves and we cannot blindly allow Israel to blindly play the victim card any longer.

    As for Twitter? I’m very rarely on there these days, other than for work, as the constant drone of X-Factor this and Strictly that is not just overwhelmingly boring, it makes me fear for the state of our society as a whole. Twitter has me jaded.

    • Yes to all of this (thanks for the compliment!) – it is sensitive because of the historical treatment of Jewish people. No-one in their right mind would argue with that, and in a sense I find that even sadder that it is the Jewish state now behaving like this. Have we learnt nothing? There’s an excellent video by a Pulitzer winning journalist in one of the blogs that I linked to below (the one called An Inconvenient Truth, I think) that deals with this.

      I am in a similar place to you re Twitter at the mo. I have come very close to leaving a couple of times recently, even before my meltdown, but there are just enough people on there that I want to stay connected with but amn’t yet ready to friend on FB that I’m hanging in for a bit longer.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated xx

  8. Thanks for adding your post to our Gaza Awareness Week linky

    I am so glad you have felt able to do a post about this and speak up. Sadly not many feel able to for some reason…and yes sometimes it does feel like people are of ignoring the issue.

    Your David and Goliath line pretty much sums it all up!

  9. Ruth – well done you for being so brave, asking pertinent searching questions and getting this conversation going! I agree with you totally. I also share your strong emotions about the WBGS as I too have been there, twice, once taking MPs there just as the 2nd intifada (2000) broke out, and have written parliamentary advocacy reports on it for World Vision (before digital age so can’t send you a link!), one of which I presented at a parliamentary meeting with Jeff Halper of ICAHD (wonderful brave man) back in 1999. (Funny story is he brought to the meeting a twisted metal door handle from a demolished house which managed to be missed by the scanners in House of Parliament!) I know how emotive the subject it and also how complex. The saying goes, “Go to Palestine for a week and you could write a book, go for a year and you write an article, go for years and you struggle to write anything!” But write about, it needs, as you rightly have pointed out. And many wonderful people have written eloquently, sensitively and passionately.

    Since having my 2nd child I no longer work so am not involved anymore, but i do what I can as a UK citizen online mainly.

    I can understand why your readers shy away from commenting on social media as its too short/trite to do justice to the complex subject, they’re also, I fear, concerned about offending others. Us British, and mothers in particular, shy away from offending others’ feelings. However, as you say, we should use social media for the positive power that it can be – forwarding links to campaigns/literature, which is what i’ve tended to use it for (mind you, i’ve only recently started to tweet, and then only sparsely as I fear its domination of my time). Supporting the bid for UN status this week was top of my agenda, despite being extremely busy with v boring, less significant St Albans life, as I knew that would do more than a donation (though I’ve done that too – Medical Aid for Palestinians is a great charity too).

    Your point about alternative routes to change is bang on. And many wonderful Jewish organisations (interestingly) have been at the heart of this such as ICHAD and Rabbis for Peace, seeking to change attitudes within Israel, and humanizing the ‘other’. Supporting these organisations, and Palestinian ones too, is essential. But ensuring the conversation is continued here, and particularly in the US, is essential too.

    So thank you. Its wonderful to hear another passionate, yet balanced, argument. Better go, quiche is burning in the oven…..

    • Goodness, we do have to get that coffee sorted, don’t we?!

      Thanks for your comment, really appreciate it, and agree with everything you say. I’ll add in links to MAP and Rabbis for Peace, ta for the reminders there.

      I haven’t met Jeff but he sounds like an incredible man – I went on a tour organised by ICAHD when I was out there.

  10. Excellent post. Mainstream sepulchral silence reigns not ony about the killing in Gaza but about the political and social repression there generally. Human rights anyone? We do the marches, the petitions etc but it’s kind of verboten to raise it in conversation beyond friends who share our beliefs. We have wonderful friends, who we love to bits, who are are ‘Jewish’ by politics, not religion. Avid Zionists. Gaza is an exquisitely-tender subject with them. I don’t do twitter beyond my blog posts. Enough drivel of instant reaction in my life as is. Well done for posting. And for caring.

  11. Incredibly useful post. I am guilty if staying on the sidelines because I feel so ignorant if it all, but you’re right, of course and I will get out of my comfort zone and read some more…

  12. I have read an awful lot about the situation and listened to much balanced discussion on the radio. I would love to write about it but to do so seems insensitive when one of my regular readers and a blogger I love, is in Israel, so for her I try to see it from both sides, but I take all your points on board and have read Guardian articles that aren’t the typical UK/US doctrine… xx

  13. Thought provoking post though I think we have to be careful not to judge how people are usng twitter. Because people may appear to be chatting about trivia doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about humanitarian issues. The problem with twitter is that it is a hard medium to conduct a balanced debate on serious issues; what someone says can easily be misinterpreted. Saying that though it can be a very important way of connecting with others as I’ve experienced in the special needs and disability communities. There is a growing global connection happening here which is having a significant impact on helping individuals and families and contributing pressure for social change.

    With regard to Gaza, I admit to not understanding enough to contibute to any meaningful discussion though of course I am concerned for the wellbeing of innocent people. I sometimes wish the media did more to provide us with a clearer picture of what is going on (and the history of the region) though I suspect that might not be in their best interests or the governments who may be controlling those media outlets. It doesn’t surprise me therefore that people are too ill-informed or confused to comment. I also think there is a lot of political apathy; a feeling that as individuals we can’t affect change, particularly regarding international affairs. I’ve met many people who admit to feeling like this though I’m of the opinion that it is important to talk about things and to press for change, however small.

    Anyway, I could go on about this because politcal apathy bothers me but I wont. I’lI end by saying I agree with many of your concerns about the Gaza situation. As for me, I will definitely try and read more about this and attempt to get a more balanced understanding because it frustrates me that I don’t.

    • Mine too. The challenge is the lack of ‘definitive’ knowledge. It’s not like there’s one place to go where you can find everything you need & become fully informed. There are so many conflicting sources :( xx

  14. I do understand what is happening in Israel and Gaza because I live in Jerusalem and have good friends who have been showered with 1000s of rockets on their homes and schools over the past 12 years.
    You call Israel and occupying nation. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 – since then we have had no presence in Gaza. But still the rockets have rained down on Israeli civilians including women and children.
    You say Israel controls the powers and water supply – Yes, we give Gaza free electricity and sanitized water. No charge. No restrictions on quantity. Even during the war we did not impose a collective punishment and turn off these services.
    You say the borders are closed. There is a border with Egypt that the Egyptians control. The other land borders are with Israel. No Israelis are allowed to cross the border and go into Gaza by law. Many Gazans have work Israeli permits and cross everyday to work in Israel. We also allow Gazans to come into Israel for medical attention in our hospitals. And we send regular supplies of food and medicines in to Gaza to help those whose froeign aid was spent on rockets to fire on our people.
    The sea around Gaza is patrolled by Israel to stop guns and explosives being delivered – and the proof that it is a necessary patrol is the number of these weapons that are intercepted. Other humane foreign aid is invited to enter Gaza through Israel.
    After 12000+ rockets on our civilians we finally, after waiting years since leaving Gaza and until thousands of our people are at breaking point – mentally and economically, went in to target Hamas who are the force behind the attacks.
    Hamas are not Gazan citizens fighting back against a non-existent occupation. Most Gazan citizens would like to live in peace and just get on with their lives. They did not vote for Hamas nor do they want them there. Hamas occupies Gaza and it’s fight against Israel is because Israel exists whereas they want to destroy it ans all it’s citizens.
    More Gazans were killed during this last operation because 100s of rockets fired into Israel were intercepted by out Iron Dome defence system and every house in the country has a bomb shelter. In Gaza, though the hits by Israel were targeted at known terrorists and weapon stores, these are usually located in public areas like schools, hospitals and private apartment blocks. Despite this only about 70 Gazana were killed and many of these were killed when Gazan rockets fell short of Israel and landed in Gazan territory.
    I hope this helps you understand a bit better.

  15. This is an interesting post but it and many of the comments have saddened me as this issue appears to bring out the “respectable” face of anit-semitism in so many people with Israel and the Jewish people described as “Zionist” and the idea that there is some sort of media conspiracy surrounding the issues in Israel (although I’m not saying your post is anti-semetic I mean more in that this is a wider issue thrown up by Gaza) . It is also upsetting that people say “oh we can’t say anything because of what happened during the war” and claim that Israel are playing the “vicitm” card which I don’t belive is true at all. It is true that Gaza is an emotive issue but it appears to be played out in the media as a very one sided issue. There are many reports about the Palestinian victims but when Hammas launch an offensive on Israel and when Israeli people die it is very rarely mentioned. We should remember that Hammas are hardly great lovers of Western culture and many of their actions are those of terrorism which we are meant to be fighting against. Israeli people are human too and just because they may be a richer nation does not mean that they should just sit back and let themselves be attacked. I’m sure if a country was launching rockets into England every day we would be calling for our government to fight back which is what Israel are doing – and it is their right to do so. I also feel that the Palestinian cause has become fairly fashionable amongst celebrities and many people are jumping on the bandwagon due to this. Of course people are allowed to make their own decisions but maybe they need to do some research as to what is actually going on out there and reading some history about the situation instead of just proclaiming Israel are “wrong” – the situation is not so black and white as that.

    • Hiya, thanks for your comment – especially appreciate it given that you felt so saddened by reading the post. Sorry it made you feel that way – I did want to encourage some discussion, because my blog readers have shown before that they’re pretty good at talking about difficult things in a reasonable way. If there are any particular comments that upset you I’m sure the commenters would appreciate your feedback.

      More generally, if you have any resources I can direct people to so they can read other perspectives I’d be very happy to add them to the post. Xx

  16. Pingback: We need to talk about Gaza | Tots 100

  17. Excellent post – this is written really well. I did a bit of a ranty post on this last week and Im not sure I wrote I too well but I did sun up what I was feeling at the time. I kind of expected a lot of backlash but all the comments were very supportive and showed that others agreed too. Some didn’t understand the situation but that’s because it’s not in your fave on the tv (I find). I found the stats from looking at the UN website following someone’s tweet on it. I really really hope they are able to live freely one day soon.

    • I hope a solution can be found that allows everyone – Israeli and Palestinian – to live the peaceful lives that the majority of them want. I’ll check out your post shortly xx

  18. I really enjoyed reading your post and am really grateful for your participation in our Gaza Awareness Week.
    Talking about Israel/Palestine situation has been a taboo for far too long. It’s a sensitive topic for many, but honestly, for how long can the Israelis hide behind the holocaust? For how long do we have to feel guilty about it? And why do the Palestinians have to suffer for it? This whole situation has nothing to do with religion.. Before the estabishment of Israel, jews, christians and muslims we’re living side by side in peace… Then the Zionism State was estabished and everything changed… They’ve stolen lands, demolished homes, set up illegal settlements, etc etc the list is so long..
    I would really recommend you all to watch two documentaries, they are over an hour long each, but they will give you enough knowledge to understand who, where and why..
    Occupation 101 tells you how it all started, but focuses more on Gaza and the people within.
    The Zionist Story is made my a former Israeli soldier, who goes into details of the estabishment of the Zionist State, Although he has made it privately, no professional editing, i find his documentary very beneficial

    What we can do to help the Palestinians, is to bring awareness out to the wider community, both online and in real life. Also try to talk to the Palestinians who are in your community. Ask them about the life in Palestine, ask them how it has affected their lives and let those stories be heard. Talk to some of the humanitarian workers who have been there and seen it with their own eyes.

    One day the world will wake up and see what really is going on down there

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  21. Totally agree with mother.wife.me having just attempted to shed some light on the world of boycotts I still feel there is so much more to say on the plight of the Gazans, I hope this campaign to raise awareness doesn’t fade away like other trends. I really see a shift in public opinion, especially on twitter.

      • Thank you Harvey – I’ve already linked to that post in it’s original context (on Marc’s Words blog) in my post above. I’ve only had a chance to skim read it this morning but I agree that it is a very thoughtful and reasonable piece, which I’ve bookmarked to read properly when I can take the time do it justice. As I stated above, I am completely open to other positions and perspectives, which is why I’ve included all the links that I’ve been asked to by commenters.

  22. ““I believe the biggest injustice – and the reason I feel so incredibly upset and angry about what is happening to the people of Gaza – is the inequality. This is not a fair fight between equals. It is a David and Goliath situation.”

    I challenge you to find any treaty or any clause in the Geneva Conventions or anything else ever written about the laws of armed conflict, that requires the forces to be evenly matched. This notion is downright silly.

  23. It all depends how you quantify ‘might’. If by ‘might’ you mean better quality and quantity of (quality, anyway) weaponry, then Israel is Goliath. If by numbers then (originally) Palestinian and their other Arab Muslim and Christian allies (with a fair quantity of quality weaponry thrown in, too) are Goliath, who resisted a Jewish presence in the land in above the tiny number imperial/imperious Christian and Islamic apartheid decreed.

    Once Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christian were numerically and qualitatively the stronger, and Jews kept to a (highly discriminated against) minority by the once imperial Christian and Islamic regimes that held Jews justly and permanently dispossessed, in large part, for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets. In pre-Mandate history Jews were decidedly the discriminated against minority not only locally in Palestine but regionally, until finally expelled altogether.

    Hamas still largely holds to that view (and (the elected government of) Hamas scarcely appears in your piece), while the PLO was hardly less expulsionist towards most Israeli Jews until at least 1988 then were its predecessors.

    By 1988, however, the clock couldn’t go back to 1947 or 1967. You can’t fight international law for 40 years and expect the last, best opportunity you missed, By 1988 all developments subsequent to 1947, including the settlements, had to be negotiated. That was the purpose of the Peace Process. At least twice parties have come close to an agreement, at Camp David ii/Taba in 2001, and Annapolis in 2007-2008. Each failure ends in the victory of more rightwing or reactionary groups in both parties.

    One must also figure into one’s calculations what each party’s goals are, since absolute quality of their means can only be fairly judged in so far as they can execute their ends e.g. Hamas may be technologically inferior, but that has never stopped its being highly ‘ambitious’ towards Israel’s ultimate extinction. In a similar vein, it is scarcely fair to cast in Israel’s teeth her sine qua non, her strength, since were she not strong she could scarcely have been born nor would likely live for most longer.

    ‘How can they work productively to change their situation, and how can we help them?’

    Perhaps encourage them to subscribe to the formula, two states, for two peoples, division of Jerusalem, old and new, borders on the 1967 lines, or with territorial compensation i.e. the Geneva Accord: http://www.geneva-accord.org/. Either that or a single state with two rights of return. But that is unlikely to come about without the intermediate stage.

    UNGAR 181 recommended the partition of Palestine into a ‘Jewish’ and an ‘Arab’ state, according both peoples a fundamental right of self-determination, as well as right of return (before the 1947-49 war, the Jews were pretty much the only ones considered the historically dispossessed group). Given that the whole conflict arguably devolves to Palestinian and other Arab Muslim, Islamist and Christian nationalists resisting Jews in above the tiny numbers to which they were historically accustomed, both groups have to learn to see and define their experiences, as peoples with a yearning for return and restoration, in terms of that of the other. Once that process is complete, one could speak of a single state. Until that time, outsiders can contribute to the imaginative process of empathy by example, towards a two state solution.

    I’d have no problem with a boycotting settlements goods +provided+ a specific goal is touted such as the Geneva Accord. Unfortunately the general goal of PSC, BDS, ISM is (pretty much explicitly) the end of Zionism, a Jewish state of Israel, a Jewish right of return and the implementing of a Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian one e.g. ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free’.

    As Prof. Norman Finkelstein, no friend of Israel, has said, this goal is counterproductive since, for a start, most people aren’t daft enough to miss that its ultimate goal is the end of any kind of Israel, and it constitutes a kind of disingenuous hypocrisy that, were he an Israeli, ‘I wouldn’t trust either’.

    http://vimeo.com/36854424

    “What is the result [if the BDS demands are satisfied]?” Finkelstein rhetorically asks in the interview. “You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel!”

    http://electronicintifada.net/content/transforming-finkelstein-bds-attack-opportunity/11008

    • Morning conchovor – just a quick note to acknowledge your comment and say thanks for taking the time to respond in such detail, I very much appreciate it. I’m not ignoring you – I’m just not replying in depth until I’ve had the chance to read and digest it properly. As with Marc’s post, I want to do it justice rather than just skimming.

  24. Pingback: Israel and the inconvenient truth « Damien Clarkson

  25. Well, you deserve high praise and applause, not specifically for coming down on anyone side of the fence but for encouraging the discussion, you have motivated people to respond to your call.

    The overarching view that I get from all of the responses is that ‘we are aware’, obviously all to varying degrees, and there are different vested interests in the situation. I echo the response that I feel that I cannot talk about the situation with enough authority or knowledge. Every time I read of the situation, or see a news item, I feel like I am intruding on a conversation that was started a thousand years ago, and as I was not there at the beginning, its best keep my mouth shut.

    Although I am of no religious faith myself, I certainly believe in the proverb ‘first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ Now I mean no disrespect, the problem in Gaza is not comparable to a speck, but I think we need to understand more about our (UK) involvement, and how our position affects what we can, should or shouldn’t do. The shrinking of the world via social media and the press can place a hefty weight of responsiblity on our shoulders, and make us feel guilty for our lack of involvement. However, when many people do not speak to or look after their neighbours, this level of detachment is hardly surprising. Lets look closer to home before exporting our model of morality around the world.

    • I agree with so much in this comment, thanks so much for taking the time to write it. And thanks for the kind words – I’m glad that this has started a conversation too – to the extent that someone wrote a post in response giving a very different perspective and I’m now engaged in an interesting dialogue with them. It is so challenging, but talking about it is so important.

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