Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Simple Idea: Free the People of Gaza

I recently discovered this group: Free Gaza (

For most observers from the US and remote places, the safest thing to say about Gaza is that "the situation is complicated." One can add that "these poor people don't have it easy;" and that "we wish the violence would stop and people could have a normal life." Beyond that, it all seems out of our hands. Don't "these people support terrorism?" Why do "they launch rockets at Israel?" And "why don't they get on with their lives and leave Israel alone?"

But broken down to simple elements, the situation can be understood, and the actions of militant and violent groups can be explained, if not justified. Also looking at the facts, one realizes that the primary violence emanates from a nation-state: Israel. On days when there are no news headlines, there is violence from Israel. On days when there are no deaths, there is violence from Israel. It is institutionalized, legitimized, legalized, and carried out by trained professionals. It kills civilians (but of course, it never 'targets them' and when it does, we'll be sure to have an enquiry--enquiries are such nice things to offer parents who lose a child, or children who lose partents). It chokes society. It kills hope. It takes away all freedom.

Yes, there are people in Gaza willing to strap explosives on young men and women and walk them into a crowd of Israeli civilians. This--also--is unacceptable. And there are people who shoot rockets in the air at Israel, and sometimes hurt and kill civilians. But I fail to see how a US-funded air-to-ground missile fired from an Apache helicopter, and which decapitates a little girl in her bed in Khan Younis is acceptable, while an Iranian-funded Qassam rocket falling on Sderot at random is so much more despicable.

Ending a cycle of violence is never an easy thing. But locking 1.5 million people in an open-air prison is not the solution; it is the root of the problem. And a prison is what Gaza is; one where Gazans control neither their borders, nor their sea, nor their roads, nor the air, nor their economy, nor the freedom to visit relatives from 30 miles away. Where they have to become dependent on humanitarian aid, food distribution, and made-up UN jobs because they are prevented violently from having an economy. Where their water supply is being taken away from them. Where they are denied the capacity to manage water and waste. Where power and fuel and slowly being removed. Where a school can be blown up by a missile (once again, with much regret and apology).

Many things are complex and complicated. But some are not. Here are two very simple ideas:

1- People in Gaza have the same inalienable rights as all people on earth.

2- The Jewish people in Israel [I have to make this specification, as I assure you the
Arab Israelis are not in charge of that part of the program.] do not have an eternal right of life and death, or even the slightest shadow of moral entitlement to continue controlling and rulling the life of the Arab population in Gaza.

Based on this simple understanding, the Free Gaza movement is planning to sail a ship of essential products into the harbor of Gaza at the invitation of such groups as the Palestinian Medical Relief Services (for whom I have the utmost respect). And they are not asking Israel for its authorization. Think about it: why in the world would Israel have any right of control? Ah - the blanket provision of "security", right? Well, we're all concerned for our security, but my concern for my security does not allow me to hold you and your family hostage because your cousin once hurt me. It's simple ideas really we must go back to.

So, read about Free Gaza; and support them if you feel like it:
Read the letter of support by Desmond Tutu (forbidden to enter Israel, I assume for "security" reasons--you gotta watch that Tutu guy!):

And remember, let's go back to simple ideas, like 1 Gazan life = 1 Jewish life = 1 French life = 1 American life = 1 Child of God life = 1 mixed bag of a culture and ethnicity type of a life.
A guy I have a lot of respect for (a lot!) summed it up as "always do for others as you would have them do for you." Not a bad start.

Free Gaza!