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Islam and the West ( 15 Aug 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

World Media on Gaza and Israel Part - 16

 

 

 

 

 

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Desk

16 August, 2014

Articles:

From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, the Arab World Has Abandoned the Palestinians

By Mehdi Hasan

Gaza Crisis Is Linked To Palestine Issue

By Uri Anvery

Tragic Deaths in Gaza Are A Reminder of A World Full Of Unexploded Bombs

By Ishaan Tharoor

Destroyed Lives, Bombed Homes: Why Gaza Is Fighting Back

By Ramzy Baroud

The Telegenically Dead: Why Israel And Its Supporters Fear Gaza's Dead.

By Sarah Kendzior

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From Egypt to Saudi Arabia, the Arab World Has Abandoned the Palestinians

By Mehdi Hasan

 08 August, 2014

Forget for one moment the timid pronouncements of Barack Obama and David Cameron. When will Arab rulers dare raise their voice against Israel's pounding of Gaza? "I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummelling of Hamas," the former US diplomat Aaron David Miller, who advised Presidents Clinton and Bush on the Middle East, told the New York Times on 30 July. Their silence, he said, "is deafening".

But their silence isn't the worst part; their complicity is. Take the collective punishment of the 1.8million inhabitants of Gaza which is referred to as the "blockade". Israeli officials may have bragged to their US counterparts that they wanted to "keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge", but they couldn't have maintained their seven-year siege of Gaza without help.

Remember: Israel controls only three sides of the strip. Who controls the fourth? Egypt, the proud, self-styled "heart of the Arab world". Yet, from Air Chief Marshal Hosni Mubarak to General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Arab Republic of Egypt has been a keen accomplice in Israel's strangulation of Gaza. The former Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, may have been willing to consider easing the blockade between 2012 and 2013, but Sisi, "elected" president in May this year after a military coup, is a sworn enemy of the Brotherhood and its Hamas affiliate.

In recent months, the junta in Cairo has resealed its border with Gaza, destroyed most of the tunnels that were lifelines for its residents and allowed a mere 140 injured Palestinians to cross into Egypt through Rafah - the only exit from the Strip that isn't controlled by the Israelis. The blockade of Gaza is, thus, a joint Israeli-Egyptian crime.

Consider also the stance of Saudi Arabia. "Attack on Gaza By Saudi Royal Appointment", read the headline on a Huffington Post blog on 20 July by the veteran foreign correspondent David Hearst, who claimed that "Mossad and Saudi intelligence officials meet regularly... and they are hand in glove on Iran".

On 1 August, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia released a statement denouncing the killings in Gaza as a "collective massacre" but conveniently, as the Associated Press pointed out, "stopped short of directly condemning Israel" and "did not call for any specific action to be taken against Israel". Meanwhile, the kingdom's Grand Mufti, Abdul Aziz al ash-Sheikh, claimed that pro-Palestinian demonstrations were "just demagogic actions that won't help Palestinians".

Then there is Syria. The Respect MP, George Galloway, may have praised the Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad once as the "last Arab ruler" because of the latter's supposed willingness to stand up to Israel, but Assad's brutal security forces have bombed and besieged the Palestinian refugees of Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus. According to Amnesty International, Syrian forces have also been "committing war crimes by using starvation of civilians as a weapon" and have forced the refugees to "resort to eating cats and dogs".

The rest of the Arab countries don't have much better records. In Lebanon, 400,000-odd Palestinian refugees languish in refugee camps where the conditions are nothing short of horrific. They are prevented by law from working in the public sector or using state medical and education facilities and are also barred from buying property.

In Jordan, ethnic Jordanians or "East Bankers" resent the "West Bank" Palestinian majority, including their queen, Rania. And in Kuwait in 1991, after the first Gulf war, as many as 200,000 Palestinians were forced out of the country as punishment for Yasser Arafat's support for Saddam Hussein; up to 4,000 Palestinians were reportedly killed in vigilante attacks.

This Arab betrayal of the Palestinian cause has deep roots. In his 1988 book, Collusion Across the Jordan, the Israeli-British historian Avi Shlaim described how King Abdullah of (what was then) Transjordan worked with the Israelis, behind the scenes, to prevent the Palestinians from establishing their own state in 1948.

"Palestine has been the dominant issue on the agenda of the Arab League since its birth in 1945," Shlaim, now emeritus professor of international relations at Oxford, tells me. "But ideological commitment to the Palestinian cause has never been translated into effective support. "So one has to distinguish between the rhetorical and the practical level of Arab foreign policy."

Today, most of the unelected leaders of the Arab world, from the generals of North Africa to the petromonarchs of the Gulf, see the Muslim Brotherhood and fellow-travellers such as Hamas as a bigger threat to their own rule than the Israel Defence Forces. Only the emirate of Qatar maintains close ties with both the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza; the rest of the region's despots and dictators would be delighted to see the Israelis deliver a knockout blow to the Sunni Islamists of Gaza - and, for that matter, to the Shia Islamists of Iran.

Let's be clear: the inconvenient truth is that the collective punishment of the Pales¬tinian people in Gaza is a collective endeavour in its own right - led by Israel, enforced by Egypt, endorsed by Saudi Arabia.

Pity the poor Palestinians. Their territories are occupied by the Jewish state; their cause is abandoned by the Arab world.

Mehdi Hasan is the political director of the Huffington Post UK, and a contributing writer for the New Statesman, where this column is crossposted

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/from-egypt-to-saudi-arabi_b_5662098.html

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Gaza crisis is linked to Palestine issue

By Uri Anvery

16 August 2014

The trouble with war is that it has two sides. Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course. There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect.

And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it.

When the two plans meet, everything goes wrong. Both plans break down. You don't know what's going to happen. How to go on. You do things you have not planned for. And when you have had enough of it and want to get out, you don't know how. It's so much more difficult to end a war than to start a war, especially when both sides need to declare victory.

That's where we are now.

How did it all start? Depends where you want to begin.

Like everywhere else, every event in Gaza is a reaction to another event. You do something because the other side did something. Which they did because you did something. One can unravel this until the beginning of history.

If that's too remote, let's start with the beginning of the present occupation, 1967.

There was a forgotten occupation before that. When Israel conquered the Gaza Strip and all of Sinai in the course of the 1956 Suez war, David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the "Third Israeli Kingdom," only to announce in a broken voice, a few dates later, that he had promised President Dwight Eisenhower to withdraw from the entire Sinai Peninsula. Some Israeli parties urged him to keep at least the Gaza Strip, but he refused. He did not want to have hundreds of thousands more Arabs in Israel.

A friend of mine reminded me of an article I had written less than two years after the Six-Day War, during which we occupied Gaza again. I had just found out that two Arab road-construction workers, one from the West Bank and one from the Gaza Strip, doing exactly the same job, were paid different wages. The Gaza man was paid much less.

Being a member of the Knesset, I made inquiries. A high-level official explained to me that this was a matter of policy. The purpose was to cause the Arabs to leave Gaza and settle in the West Bank (or elsewhere), in order to disperse the 400,000 Arabs then living in the Strip, mostly refugees from Israel. Obviously this did not go so very well — now there are about 1.80 million there.

Then, in February 1969, I warned: "(If we go on) we shall be faced with a terrible choice — to suffer from a wave of terrorism that will cover the entire country, or to engage in acts of revenge and oppression so brutal that they will corrupt our souls and cause the whole world to condemn us."

I mention this not (only) to blow my own horn, but to show that any reasonable person could have foreseen what was going to happen.

It took a long time for Gaza to reach this point.

I remember an evening in Gaza in the mid-90s. I had been invited to a Palestinian conference (about prisoners), which lasted several days, and my hosts invited me to stay with Rachel in a hotel on the sea-shore. Gaza was then a nice place. In the late evening we took a stroll along the central boulevard. We had pleasant chats with people who recognized us as Israelis. We were happy.

I also remember the day when the Israeli Army withdrew from most of the Strip. Near Gaza city there stood a huge Israeli watchtower, many floors high, "so that the Israeli soldiers could look into every window in Gaza." When the soldiers left, I climbed to the top, passing hundreds of happy boys who were going up and down. Again we were happy. They are probably Hamas members now.

That was the time when Yasser Arafat, son of a Gaza Strip family, returned to Palestine and set up his Hq. in Gaza. A beautiful new airport was built. Plans for a large new sea-port were circulating.

A big Dutch harbour-building corporation approached me discreetly and asked me to use my friendly relations with Arafat to obtain the job for them. They hinted at a very large gratuity. I politely refused. During all the years I knew Arafat, I never asked him for a favor. I think that this was the basis of our rather strange friendship.

If the port had been built, Gaza would have become a flourishing commercial hub.

Why did this not happen? Israel refused to allow the port to be built. Contrary to a specific undertaking in the 1993 Oslo agreement, Israel cut off all passages between the Strip and the West Bank. The aim was to prevent any possibility of a viable Palestinian state being set up.

True, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon evacuated more than a dozen settlements along the Gaza shore. Today, one of our rightist slogans is: "We evacuated the entire Gaza Strip and what did we get in return? Qassam rockets!" Ergo: We can't give up the West Bank.

But Sharon did not turn the Strip over to the Palestinian Authority. Israelis are obsessed with the idea of doing things "unilaterally." The army withdrew, the Strip was left in chaos, without a government, without any agreement between the two sides.

Gaza sank into misery. In the 2006 Palestinian elections, under the supervision of ex-President Jimmy Carter, the people of Gaza, like the people of the West Bank, gave a relative majority to the Hamas party. When Hamas was denied power, it took the Gaza Strip, with the population applauding.

The Israeli government reacted by imposing a blockade. Only limited quantities of goods approved by the occupation authorities were let in. An American senator raised hell when he found out that pasta was considered a security risk and not allowed in. Practically nothing was let out, which is incomprehensible from the “security” point of view of weapons “smuggling” but clear from the point of view of “strangling." Unemployment reached almost 60 percent.

The Strip is roughly 40km long and 10km wide. In the north and the east it borders Israel, in the west it borders the sea, which is controlled by the Israeli Navy. In the south it borders Egypt. As the slogan goes, it is "the word's largest open-air prison."

Both sides now proclaim that their aim is to put an end to this situation. But they mean two very different things.

The Israeli side wants the blockade to remain in force, though in a more liberal form. Pasta and much more will be let into the Strip, but under strict supervision. No airport. No sea-port. Hamas must be prevented from re-arming.

The Palestinian side wants the blockade to be removed once and for all, even officially. They want their port and airport.

How to square this circle? It is a mark of the situation that the US has disappeared as a mediator. After the futile John Kerry peace mediation efforts it is now generally despised throughout the Middle East.

Israel cannot "destroy" Hamas, as our semi-fascist politicians (in the government, too) loudly demand. Nor do they really want to. If Hamas is "destroyed," Gaza would have to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority (viz. Fatah). That would mean the re-unification of the West Bank and Gaza, after all the long-lasting and successful Israeli efforts to divide them. No good.

If Hamas remains, Israel cannot allow the "terror-organization" to prosper. Relaxation of the blockade will only be limited, if that. The population will embrace Hamas even more, dreaming of revenge for the terrible devastation caused by Israel during this war. The next war will be just around the corner, as almost all Israelis believe anyhow.

In the end, we shall be where we were before.

There can be no real solution for Gaza without a real solution for Palestine.

The blockade must end, with serious security concerns of both sides properly addressed.

The Gaza Strip and the West Bank (with East Jerusalem) must be reunited.

The four "safe passages" between the two territories, promised in the Oslo agreement, must at last be opened.

There must be Palestinian elections with a new government accepted by all Palestinian factions and recognized by the world community. Serious peace negotiations, based on the two-state solution, must start and be concluded within a reasonable time.

Hamas must formally undertake to accept the peace agreement reached by these negotiations. Israel's legitimate security concerns must be addressed.

The Gaza port must be opened and enable the Strip and the entire State of Palestine to import and export goods.

There is no sense in trying to "solve" one of these problems separately. They must be solved together. They can be solved together, unless we want to go around and around, from one "round" to the next, without hope and redemption.

http://www.arabnews.com/news/columns/616611

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Tragic Deaths in Gaza Are A Reminder of A World Full Of Unexploded Bombs

By Ishaan Tharoor

August 13, 2014

An Italian video journalist with the Associated Press, his interpreter and four Palestinians were killed in a string of explosions at an ordnance dump in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. As The Washington Post's William Booth reports, Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash were filming a crew of Gazan police tasked with defusing the collected munitions. The assignment, for all involved, took a deadly, tragic turn.

Booth describes what happened:

The unsecured dump, protected by a few strands of barbed wire and a drop cloth, was being used to store artillery shells, mortar rounds and other munitions. The ordnance included duds, empty shells, tail fins and casings, alongside pieces of missile cones, firing tubes and unexploded rounds.

Police at the scene said all the ordnance was gathered during the current operation, although some of the casings appeared rusted. They said it was all fired by the Israelis, but it appeared possible that the dump contained spent munitions left behind by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, and other militants.

Unexploded ordnance, the remnants of cluster bombs and fizzled rockets, have long been a danger in the Gaza Strip, which has endured repeated offensives by Israel over the past half decade. Six months after the end of Israel's 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead, the United Nations reported that at least 12 civilians, including six children, had been killed during incidents related to unexploded ordnance, which the U.N. labels "UXO."

By 2012, the casualty rate in Gaza related to UXO incidents was roughly four a month. In February 2013, three children, ages between 4 and 6, were playing near their homes in the Beit Hanoun refugee camp when they unearthed a bomblet that led to serious injuries. Al-Monitor ran a thorough roundup of incidents in 2012 and 2013 here.

It is impossible to know how many of these dangerous devices still sit beneath Gaza's trammelled surface and which fighting force — be it the Israeli army or Hamas militants — is to blame for each incident. Gaza, of course, is hardly the only war-ravaged area that suffers such carnage. Here's the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor's 2012 roundup of casualties from UXOs, land mines and other "remnants of war":

From Germany to Hong Kong and many places in between, unexploded bombs from World War I and World War II are still being dug up — and they can often be lethal. Land mines pock-mark former war zones in Africa and the Balkans. Even in the United States and Britain, UXO incidents are still a risk in areas that were once used for military exercises and practice bombing runs.

In Southeast Asia, the legacy of the Vietnam War remains a horribly explosive issue. One glaring example is Laos, where the United States conducted a clandestine bombing campaign between 1964 and 1973, dropping some 2.5 million tons of bombs. A video by Mother Jones illustrates the frequency of the bombing, which, the magazine reports, surpassed "what American planes unloaded on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. Laos remains, per capita, the most heavily bombed country on earth."

Since the 1960s, roughly 50,000 Laotians have been killed by the remnants of these munitions and a quarter of the country's villages remain "contaminated" by Vietnam War-era ordnance, according to the Mines Advisory Group, an organization that monitors unexploded ordnance and other such munitions. Forty percent of the casualties have been children. Unexploded cluster bombs dropped by the United States kill around 100 Laotians annually.

The process of scouring and securing Laos is slow and difficult and costs the United States millions of dollars every year. And that's not the only place where this country has to clean up.

Earlier this year, The Post's Kevin Sieff reported that the U.S. military, which is in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan, was leaving behind "800 square miles of land littered with undetonated grenades, rockets and mortar shells." Sieff spoke with an Afghan grazing his flock on the only decent grassland in the environs of a former U.S. military base.

“There’s no other place for us to bring our sheep,” Mohammad Raz Khan, 54, told Sieff. “Every time my sons leave the tent, I worry and worry.”

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/08/13/tragic-deaths-in-gaza-are-a-reminder-of-a-world-full-of-unexploded-bombs/

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Destroyed Lives, Bombed Homes: Why Gaza Is Fighting Back

By Ramzy Baroud

15 August 2014

My old family house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza was recently rebuilt by its new owner, into a beautiful three-story building with large windows adorned by red frames. In Israel’s most recent and deadliest war on Gaza, the house sustained significant damage. A large hole caused by Israeli missiles can be seen from afar, in a part of the house where our kitchen once stood.

It seems that the actual target was not my house, however, but that of our kindly neighbor, who had spent his entire working-life toiling between manual jobs in Israel, and later in life as a janitor for U.N.-operated schools in Gaza. The man’s whole lifesavings were invested in his house where several families lived. After “warning” rockets blew up part of his house, several missiles pulverized the rest.

My entire neighborhood was also destroyed. I saw photos of the wreckage-filled neighborhood by accident on Facebook. The clearance where we played football as little kids was filled with holes left by missiles and shrapnel. The shop where I used my allowance to buy candy, was blown up. Even the graveyard where our dead were meant to “rest in peace” was anything but peaceful. Signs of war and destruction were everywhere.

My last visit there was about two years ago. I caught up with my neighbors on the latest politics and the news of who was dead and who was still alive underneath the shady wall of my old house. One complained about his latest ailments, telling me that his son Mahmoud had been killed as he had been a freedom fighter with a Palestinian resistance movement.

I couldn’t fathom the idea that Mahmoud, the child I remembered as running around half-naked with a runny nose, had become a fierce fighter with an automatic rifle ready to take on the Israeli army. But that he was, and he was killed on duty.

Time Changes Everything

Time changes everything. Time has changed Gaza. But the strip was never a passive place of people subsisting on hand-outs or a pervasive sense of victimhood. Being a freedom fighter preceded any rational thinking about life and the many choices it had to offer growing up in a refugee camp, and all the little kids of my generation wanted to join the Fedayeen.

But options for Gazans are becoming much more limited than ever before, even for my generation.

Since Israel besieged Gaza with Egypt’s help and coordination, life for Gazans has become largely about mere survival. The strip has been turned into a massive ground for an Israeli experiment concerned with population control. Gazans were not allowed to venture out, fish, or farm, and those who got even close to some arbitrary “buffer zone,” determined by the Israeli army within Gaza’s own borders, were shot at and often killed.

With time, the population of the strip knew that they were alone. The short stint that brought Mohammad Mursi to power in Egypt offered Gaza some hope and a respite, but it soon ended. The siege, after the overthrow of Mursi became tighter than ever before.

Doing Very Little

The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah did very little to help Gaza. Perhaps to ensure the demise of Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority carried on with its “security coordination” with Israel, as Gaza suffered a Draconian siege. There was no question, that after all the failed attempts at breaking the siege and the growing isolation of Gaza, Gazans had to find their own way out of the blockade.

When Israeli began its bombardment campaign of Gaza on July 6, and a day later with the official launch of the so-called Operation Protective Edge, followed by a ground invasion, it may have seemed that Gaza was ready to surrender.

Political analysts have been advising that Hamas has been at its weakest following the downturn of the Arab Spring, the loss of its allies, and the dramatic shift of its fortunes in Syria and, naturally Iran. The “Hamas is ready to fold” theory was advanced by the logic surrounding the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah; and unity was seen largely as a concession by Hamas to Abbas’ Fatah movement, which continued to enjoy Western political backing and monetary support.

The killing of three Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank in late June was the opportunity for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to test the misleading theory on Hamas’ weakened position. He launched his war that eventually mounted into what I see as genocide, hoping that Hamas and other resistance groups would be forced to disarm or be completely eradicated - as promised by various Israeli officials.

But it didn’t. From the very first days of the war it became clear the resistance could not be defeated, at least not as easily as Netanyahu had expected. The more troops he invested in the war on Gaza, the more Israeli army casualties increased. Netanyahu’s response was to increase the price of Palestinian resistance by inflicting as much harm on Palestinian civilians as possible: He killed over 1,900, wounded nearly 10,000, a vast majority of whom were civilians, and destroyed numerous schools, mosques, hospitals, and thousands of homes, thus sending hundreds of thousands of people on the run. But where does one run when there is nowhere to go?

Cautious Political Discourse

Israel’s usual cautious political discourse was crumbling before Gaza’s steadfastness. Israeli officials and media began to openly call for genocide. Middle East commentator Jeremy Salt explained:

“The more extreme of the extreme amongst the Zionists say out loud that the Palestinians have to be wiped out or at the very least driven into Sinai,” he wrote, citing Moshe Feiglin, the deputy of the Israeli Knesset, who called for “full military conquest of the Gaza strip and the expulsion of its inhabitants. They would be held in tent encampments along the Sinai border while their final destination was decided. Those who continued to resist would be exterminated.”

From Israeli commentator Yochanan Gordon, who flirted with genocide in “when genocide is permissible,” to Ayelet Shaked, who advocated the killing of the mothers of those who resist and are killed by Israel. “They should follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go as should the physical houses in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes are raised.”

References to genocide and extermination and other devastatingly violent language are no longer “claims” levied by Israeli critics, but a loud and daily self-indictment made by the Israelis themselves.

The Israelis are losing control of their decades-long hasbara, a propaganda scheme so carefully knitted and implemented, many the world over were fooled by it. Palestinians, those in Gaza in particular, were never blind to Israel’s genocidal intentions. They assembled their resistance with the full knowledge that a fight for their very survival awaited.

Israel’s so-called Protective Edge is the final proof of Israel’s unabashed face, that of genocide. It carried it out, this time paying little attention to the fact that the whole world was watching. Trending Twitter hashtags which began with #GazaUnderAttack, then #GazaResists, quickly morphed to #GazaHolocaust. The latter was used by many that never thought they would dare make such comparisons.

Gaza managed to keep Israel at bay in a battle of historic proportions. Once its children are buried, it will once again rebuild its defenses for the next battle. For Palestinians in Gaza, this is not about mere resistance strategies, but their very survival.

Palestinian-American journalist, author, editor, Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle. Baroud's work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide and his books “His books “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” and “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” have received international recognition. Baroud’s third book, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story” narrates the story of the life of his family, used as a representation of millions of Palestinians in Diaspora, starting in the early 1940’s until the present time.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/08/15/Destroyed-lives-bombed-homes-Why-Gaza-is-fighting-back.html

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The Telegenically Dead: Why Israel And Its Supporters Fear Gaza's Dead.

By Sarah Kendzior

14 Aug 2014

In the beginning, they were the "telegenically killed". That is what Charles Krauthammer, in his July 17 Washington Post column "Moral Clarity in Gaza", called the victims of Israeli airstrikes. Children shelled while playing on the beach, a father holding a plastic bag of his two-year-old son's remains: To Krauthammer, Palestinians are not people but production values. War does not destroy families: It "produces dead Palestinians for international television."

Three days later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed the Palestinians "telegenically dead", lifting Krauthammer's language in one example of the US media-Israeli government echo chamber that has been reverberating all summer. "You forfeit your right to be called civilians," a Wall Street Journal columnist told Gazans on July 21, stating that children of Hamas supporters are fair game. "There is no such thing as 'innocent civilians,'" proclaimed Giora Eiland, the former head of Israel's National Security Council, on August 5.

Unthinkable sentiment has become sanctioned, commonplace. You begin to have nostalgia for disappointment, because at least that means you had expectations.

Who are the telegenically dead? The telegenically dead are the dead, plain and simple. That we see them is the novelty, that we grieve them is human, and to be human, today, is a hostile act. To grieve is to acknowledge loss, to acknowledge loss is to affirm life, to affirm life is to contemplate how it was taken.

A child is not a shield or a lawn to be mowed. "Telegenic" means you see a body where you were supposed to see an abstraction.

Inconvenient Death

In 1960, Elie Wiesel published Night, a memoir of the Holocaust which portrayed, in intimate and graphic detail, Nazi cruelty and public complicity.

"Was I still alive? Was I awake?" Wiesel wrote, describing Nazis throwing Jewish babies into a bonfire. "I could not believe it. How could it be possible for them to burn people, children, and for the world to keep silent? No, none of this could be true."

In July 2014, Wiesel took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to support Israel in what he terms "a battle of civilisation versus barbarism". As Palestinians stored corpses of babies killed by Israeli strikes in ice cream freezers, Wiesel proclaimed that "Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it's Hamas' turn." He condemned the "terrorists who have taken away all choice from the Palestinian children of Gaza."

He is right. The Palestinian children of Gaza do not have a choice. But Israel does.

Hamas is a violent organisation which commits reprehensible acts. But it was not Hamas who killed Palestinian children playing on the beach. It was not Hamas who killed children sleeping in UN shelters. To argue, as many US and Israeli authors have, that merely being in the proximity of Hamas renders one a legitimate target is terrorist logic - particularly in Gaza, where there is nowhere else to go. In what other "hostage situation" are the hostages targeted - and their deaths justified by stripping away their civilian status, their innocence, their humanity?

A baby killed by soldiers is a baby killed by soldiers. It is not a shield and not a pawn. The death of any child is a tragedy regardless of their race, religion, or parentage. That this is debated is its own tragedy.

In 1941, Nazi official Joseph Goebbels complained that Jewish children captivated too much public sympathy: "One suddenly has the impression that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies. The Jews send out the pitiable."

Three years later, the Nazis sent the teenage Wiesel to a concentration camp.

Let me be clear: What is happening in Gaza is in no way comparable to the Holocaust in scope, scale, organisation or intent. Yet similar rhetoric portraying dead children as complicit or inconvenient emerges - rhetoric not unique to the Middle East, but used all over the world, all throughout history, to mitigate or justify the slaughter of innocents. One would hope that those who so vividly documented the killing of children would protest it being practiced. That hope seems in vain.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," George Santayana famously said. Those who can, repeat it too.

Who is human?

Social media has been described as "humanising" the Palestinian victims. Television may be decried by politicians and pundits, but the internet is where Gaza's story is told firsthand by its residents, where graphic images of the grieved are shared.

If you are being "humanised", you are already losing. To be "humanised" implies that your humanity is never assumed, but something you have to prove.

"What am I supposed to do/be to be qualified as a human?" Maisam Abumorr, a writer and student in Gaza, asks. "As far as I can tell, I live like normal humans do. I love, I hate, I cry, I laugh, I make mistakes, I learn, I dream, I hurt, I get hurt… I still have not figured out what crime I have committed to endure this kind of wretchedness. I wonder what being human feels like."

For every group that uses media to affirm its humanity, there is another group proclaiming that humanity as irrelevant, or inconvenient, or a lie. One can see this not only in the Middle East conflict, but in movements like Nigeria's "Bring Back Our Girls", frequently proclaimed "forgotten" due to their so-called "nameless and faceless" victims. But the girls were never nameless and faceless to the Nigerians who fought, and continue to fight, for their survival. They have names that few learned, faces from which many turned away. The people who refuse to forget are the ones the West has now forgotten.

In all documentation of violence, from memoirs to social media, lies a plea to not forget. There is a reason Netanyahu fears the "telegenically dead". They haunt the world like ghosts - a reminder of what we have done, what we are capable of doing and the lengths gone to justify it.

Those dehumanised in life become humanised in death. With this realisation you mourn not only the dead. You mourn the living too.

Sarah Kendzior is a St Louis-based writer who studies politics and media.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/telegenically-dead-201481182312870982.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/new-age-islam-edit-desk/world-media-on-gaza-and-israel-part---16/d/98585

 

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