[Marxism] Darfur is easy - what about Gaza?

Dbachmozart at aol.com Dbachmozart at aol.com
Sun Dec 10 00:47:09 MST 2006


 

_www.counterpunch.org_ (http://www.counterpunch.org)    Dec. 4,  2006
When Will Kristoff Go to the Occupied  Territories?
Gaza and  Darfur
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN 
As  a zone of ongoing, large-scale bloodletting Darfur in the western Sudan 
has big  appeal for US news editors. Americans are not doing the killing, or 
paying for  others to do it. So there's no need to minimize the vast slaughter 
with the  usual drizzle of "allegations." There's no political risk here in 
sounding off  about genocide in Darfur. The crisis in Darfur is also very  
photogenic. 
When the RENAMO gangs, backed by Ronald Reagan and  the apartheid regime in 
South Africa were butchering Mozambican peasants, the  news stories were sparse 
and the tone usually tentative in any blame-laying. Not  so with Darfur, 
where moral outrage on the editorial pages acquires the robust  edge endemic to 
sermons about inter-ethnic slaughter where white people, and  specifically the 
US government, aren't obviously involved. 
Since March 1 the New York Times has run seventy  news stories on Darfur 
(including sixteen pieces from wire services), fifteen  editorials and twenty-one 
signed columns, all but one by Nicholas Kristof.  Darfur is primarily a "feel 
good" subject for people here who want to agonize  publicly about injustices 
in the world but who don't really want to do anything  about them. After all, 
it's Arabs who are the perpetrators and there is  ultimately little that people 
in this country can do to effect real change in  the policy of the government 
in Khartoum. 
Now, Gaza is an entirely different story. The  American public as well as the 
US government have a great deal of control over  what is happening there. And 
it is Israel, America's prime ally in the Middle  East that is, on a 
day-to-day basis, with America's full support, inflicting  appalling brutalities on a 
civilian population. To report in any detail on  what's going on in Gaza means 
accusing the United States of active complicity in  terrible crimes wrought 
by Israel, as it methodically lays waste a society of  1.5 million 
Palestinians. Of course the death rate is a fraction of what's  alleged about Darfur, but 
all the same, we are talking here about a determined  bid by Israel, backed by 
the U.S. and E.U. to destroy an entire  society. 
I wan't at all surprised there was a sharp swerve  in emphasis towards Darfur 
at about the time of the Kerem Shalom attack and the  kidnapping of Gilad 
Shalit in Gaza in June of this year. By the time Israel's  campaign of destroying 
Lebanon got under way this summer (a campaign intricately  linked to the 
Palestine issue), Darfur was hotter still as a distracting  topic. 
Where is Kristof? Couldn't he trade at least one  of his Darfur columns for 
one on Gaza's suffering? Maybe he is deferring to  Thomas Friedman, who owns 
the Middle Eastern turf on the NYT op-ed page the way  Kristof owns chunks of 
Africa. 
Israel's soldiers are not going to march into Gaza  and truck all the i
nhabitants away. The strategy is simply to make the place  into a garbage dump 
picked over by destitute people. The current ceasefire will  do nothing to relieve 
the siege imposed physically, financially, commercially by  Israel, the U.S. 
and the E.U. Israel and its accomplices are sentencing Gaza's  occupants to a 
living death in situ, with actual death meted out each day to  "terrorists" and 
those unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire, like the  family in Beit 
Hanoun or the school teacher by the minibus filled with children  (a near 
miss). 
As Gideon Levy wrote in one of his many searing  reports in Ha'aretz, the 
Israeli army "has been rampaging through Gaza-there's  no other word to describe 
it-killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling,  indiscriminately". When my 
brother Patrick was there in September he reported in  The Independent that 
"Israeli troops and tanks come and go at will. In the  northern district of 
Shajhayeh they took over several houses last week and  stayed five days. By the 
time they withdrew, 22 Palestinians had been killed,  three houses were 
destroyed and groves of olive, citrus and almond trees had  been bulldozed. Fuad 
al-Tuba, the 61-year-old farmer who owned a farm here,  said: 'they even destroyed 
22 of my bee-hives and killed four sheep.' His son  Baher al-Tuba described 
how for five days Israeli soldiers confined him and his  relatives to one room 
in his house where they survived by drinking water from a  fish pond. 'Snipers 
took up positions in the windows and shot at anybody who  came near," he said. 
"They killed one of my neighbors called Fathi Abu Gumbuz  who was 56 years 
old and just went out to get water.'" 
The sound that Palestinians most dread, Patrick  wrote, "is an unknown voice 
on their cell phone saying they have half an hour to  leave their home before 
it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no  appeal."
The Israelis have destroyed 70 percent of the orange groves; stopped  the 
fishermen from going out in their boats, destroyed the central power  station. 
More than 50 percent of the population is out of work, and per capita  income is 
less than $2 a day. 
Jennifer Loewenstein, of the Middle Eastern  studies program at the Unversity 
of Wisconsin at Madison, has visited Gaza many  times and written powerfully 
about it on the CounterPunch website. She wrote to  me last week, "If people 
received genuine information about Gaza they would also  be appalled-and that's 
of course why they don't get any real information about  it from getting out. 
In addition, if the Israeli blockade of virtually all human  traffic into 
Gaza were to end and more visitors could actually get in, more  people-including 
freelance journalists-would be outraged, or stunned into  disbelief at what 
Israel with US and EU backing has done to that miserable strip  of land. Again, 
that's why the Israeli-imposed human blockade persists. And  while diplomats, 
UN and international aid workers and a few others do get in,  the fact that 
most of them utter not a peep about this ongoing crime against  humanity 
suggests in the most sinister way that they will continue not to utter  a peep when 
things get worse. 
As Loewenstein concluded: "Servility to power  doesn't get more insidious or 
malignant than  this."



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