Gaza -- Humanitarian Emergency and the Threat of Nuclear War

Bruce Cox, national director of Greenpeace, recently spoke at an Amnesty International conference in Toronto about the reversal in the meaning of “reality” in establishment discourse in that claims of being “realistic” now indicate manipulative deceit. The emergency in Gaza, a siege and now an invasion, is a catastrophic culmination of massive deception and convenient untruths. Gaza is a man-made tragedy of psychotic proportions and distortion of reality.

Israel, with its U.S. and Canadian supporters, claims that Gaza poses an existential threat to Jews. Israel has the fourth largest military in the world and President Bush’s FY2009 budget request to Congress includes $2.55 billion in military aid to Israel, a 9% increase over actual spending in FY2007. According to Seymour Hersh, Israel has at least 500 nuclear warheads and would actually use them as a “Samson option.”1 These distortions, this sense of entitlement to perpetrate aggression, was heightened when Labor M.K. Deputy Minister of Defense Matan Vilnai threatened Gaza with a holocaust (BBC News, 2/29/08).

The actual facts of Israel’s criminal acts are highly accessible and reliable:

  • Regarding the danger of Qassam rockets, as of January 2008, 2,677 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were killed by Israel, and 11 Israelis from Siderot have been killed by Qassams since 2000 (UN/OCHA). Air and land bombardments have killed 101 Palestinians since 27 February, and injured hundreds of others (Palestinian Centre for Human Rights).
  • Israel “withdrew” from Gaza in 2005 but maintained control of all air, sea, and land access, control of water, and left 40% of the land buried in rubble and uncultivable. According to UNRWA, 2007 saw the closure of 95% of Gaza’s factories due to the siege.
  • Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, has called for an international effort to end the siege of Gaza. He writes that 85% of Gazans depend on humanitarian aid for securing their basic needs of survival, and writes of the “critical humanitarian and mental ramifications of this siege on the civilians which threaten their life and significantly deepen[ed] their suffering.”
  • Physicians for Human Rights/Israel documents how the Israeli army deliberately delays its responses to allow seriously ill patients to leave Gaza for life-saving treatment, and Amnesty International states that dozens of Palestinian patients have died because of refusal to allow passage.
  • Defense for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS —BBC report) states that 40% of children suffer from insomnia in Gaza. Many children have known nothing but conflict and poverty in their lives and the ongoing cycle of poverty and violence is having a devastating impact.  Rates of anemia caused in part by a lack of food and adequate nutrition has increased since 2007, with 70% of infants aged nine months now suffering from anemia. Diarrhea is on the increase, partly due to lack of clean water and the lack of hygiene. The most recent figures indicate that 13% to 15% of Gaza children are stunted in growth due to malnutrition. This NGO details the circumstances of each child’s death, usually by deliberate Israeli military operations or through unexploded ordnance.

This is only a partial report of facts on the ground, an account that consistently eludes our major media. In February, 2008, McMaster University took the position that the phrase “Israeli apartheid” was unacceptable and inflammatory and barred its use on campus. But in Israel, the country supposedly threatened with annihilation, over one hundred Israeli intellectuals went a great deal further in criticizing Israel in what is known as the “Olga Document”: “The State of Israel was supposed to tear down the walls of the ghetto; it is now constructing the biggest ghetto in the entire history of the Jews. The State of Israel was supposed to be a democracy; it has set up a colonial structure, combining unmistakable elements of apartheid with the arbitrariness of brutal military occupation.”2

The manipulation of reality to justify aggression appears to be a callous perquisite of people in power. It involves an intolerable distortion of reality and it is now rampant.

Notes

1 Hersh, Seymour (1991). The Samson Option. Faber and Faber, Boston. ^

2 In June 2004 Israeli activists and scholars met in Givat Olga. The result of a series of meetings resulted in a new initiative called “The Olga Appeal”. In this document they state their unity “in the belief that peace and reconciliation are contingent on Israel’s recognition of its responsibility for the injustices done to the indigenous people, the Palestinians.” Among its endorsers are Prof. Anat Biletzki, Andre Draznin, Haim Hanegbi, Yehudith Harel, Michel (Micado) Warschawski, Oren Medicks, Prof. Kimmerling and Meron Benvenisti. ^