[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
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
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
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
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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