It was not my intention to post here until the New Year, when my access to the internet would be more secure. Unfortunately the world still turns even while I take a break; events on the ground continue, people die and atrocities occur, imperialism remains, whether I tuck into a turkey dinner or enjoy the haunting beauty of winter woodlands or not. It is true that there is perhaps little that I can do to reverse these injustices, to contribute to building a better world where these atrocities will one day be recalled as scarcely believable myths of darker ages. But that is true of most things; nonetheless I can see no other option than to try.
One of the key motivating forces in my life stems from an experience with a humble mosquito. Whenever I hear someone say ‘what can I do? I am but one against many…’ I recall the experience of being locked in a room with a lone mosquito. As small as it was, it was able to produce a reaction from me far disproportionate to its size relative to myself. True, I eventually killed it, but it does show that no matter how small one is, one may still have a great impact.
What has prompted me to post now, earlier than I would have liked are the events in Gaza of the last few days. Most by now are aware of the massive aerial assault on this piece of land, one of the most densely populated and impoverished places on our planet. Indications are that a ground assault (I doubt a sustained full occupation though) are to follow in the next few days.
The Palesitine-Isreal question is one not very dissimilar to the race question in Bermuda – views can become quickly polarised and emotional to the degree that discourse ends up talking at cross purposes, positions become entrenched, and we have the trench warfare becoming the norm.
Knowing this, I hope that the discourse, if any, that follows will prove to be the exception to the rule of such discourses. Optimistically idealist of me, perhaps.
I should state right away – and I doubt this will come as a surprise to many – my sympathies lie primarily with the Palestinian people. Often the pro-Israeli side attempt to create a strawman of pro-Palestinians, saying that they are ready to demo against Israel but say nothing about the tragedies caused by Palestinian rockets or bombings. While there are no doubt some within the pro-Palestinian camp that cling to the maxim of the ends justify the means (and they have their mirror image amongst the zionists for sure), I think it is unfair to misrepresent the pro-Palestinian camp as being such.
Its not hard to empathise with the terror that Palestinian suicide bombings or rudimentary rockets can instill within the Israeli people. The greatest terror comes simply because the victims of these tragedies are largely civilians going about their daily life, while most of the attacks are tragically random due to the rudimentary and imprecise mechanisms available to the Palestinian militants. It is horrible, it is terrible, it has a distinct social impact. For one, it leads to a dehumanisation of the ‘enemy’ which makes it easier to legitimise using violence – preferably overwhelming – with the aim of either destroying or incapacitating the enemy.
At the same time, I can also understand, and better justify the actions of the Palestinian militants. Their actions come largely out of desparation and limited access to weaponary to defend themselves with. The same social impact of terror attacks that may be seen within the Israelis occurs within Palestine itself, but magnified due to the greater destructive power of the Israeli state as opposed to the Palestinian people.
Israel has failed to address the root causes of the conflict; if anything they have exacerbated the situation. And they continue to do so. The current assault on Gaza is no different. The systematic destruction of Palestinian society and economy, combined with constant military incursions has certainly not helped.
Israel today is a Goliath, the Palestinians are a David, only David’s sling and stones are this time no match for Goliath. And the world stands by and watches the strong stamping on the weak. Some pious words are spoken, resolutions are passed in the UN, but nothing comes of it. The US continues to arm Israel, despite the terrorist activities of Mossad throughout Arabia, despite Israel’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, despite its illegal occupation of land, its state-sponsored settlements of occupied lands, its warmongering in Lebanon, Syria and Iran. I have long since lost all illussions of the West as standing for democracy and human rights. I have found these to be empty rhetoric and propaganda to hide the actions of the West throughout the world. I have little faith in the UN, shackled as it is to the West and rendered impotent as such.
Perhaps I am overly cynical. But it certainly has not escaped my notice that the Israeli general election is coming up in February, with the ruling Kadima Party facing charges of being soft on Hamas by the resurgent Likud Opposition. Nor does it escape my attention that President-elect Obama (who is predictably siding with Israel here) is thought by the Israeli’s to be less strongly pro-Israel than the outgoing Bush II regime.
I cannot envision a full ground assault on Gaza, only limited incursions to gather intel, assassinate Hamas leaders and target institutions better destroyed on the ground than from air, while also further humiliating the people of Gaza and Hamas. The full attack will probably be over by the end of this week, if not sooner. It will certainly be over by inauguration day in the US. This too, indeed, shall pass.
But the festering and open wound that is the so-called holy land will continue. The apartheid regime perpetuated by Israel will continue. This guarantees further desperate reactions from Palestinian militants.
I don’t know what I can do. But I’ll be the best darned mosquito that I can be and work for a resolution to this crisis.