Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aid must come with an apology

I heard yesterday that there's a UN project to help Gaza remove the rubble of the war -- the houses, schools, mosques, even a few clinics that were turned to dust. (The Near East Council of Churches saw one of its clinics pulverized.) Last April when I was there, some of the destroyed houses still had the bodies underneath.

I'm not bashing the UN at all, but I just need to say that, whatever amount of our taxes go to fund the UN and this "humanitarian" project should go with a label.

"Branding" has become big in the humanitarian and development worlds. "From the American People" here, and the incessant UN Agency "my logo is bigger than yours" battles for the rest. The message is: 'Here's some help. We'd like you to know where it comes from and maybe see us in a positive light at some point.' All good and well.

But I do think that for Gaza the assistance should come with a different label. Maybe a bit like German Euros have been spent to support Israel: without a lot of bragging and with a little sense that this may be restorative assistance for past ills, even if they remain unspoken.

After all, Gazans really don't need "assistance" to get the rubble out. They need to be allowed to buy bulldozers, trucks, gasoline, pay their workers and use their land-- like some of the landfills of the West Bank currently used by illegal Israeli settlements. The only reason Gaza "needs" the UN to have a rubble removal project is because we--we the international community--have decided that Gaza is not entitled to the basic liberties promised by the rules of international law. So, I think all this humanitarian assistance should come with a label that would say something like:
With the apologies of the free nations of the world. We're so sorry that you have to pay the price of our ancestors' crimes (for Europeans) and our current spinelessness; and we also regret that we just find it more expedient to give carte blanche to Israel to continue your occupation (with the required hardware; that's for Americans). Please, remember we do care about human rights and the international rule of law we've tried to build. It's just that, well ... in your case ... it's not convenient. Don't take it personally -- there are others we are neglecting and you get more money than most. It's just that we also have to keep paying for the drones that pulverize your homes into dust. Sorry about the kids. Have some more milk and biscuits (notice the extra Vitamin A by the way!). Enjoy the trickle down per diems too. Please remember Gandhi and MLK and don't get angry.
We'll have to think of a nice logo to go with it.


Post-Scriptum: It's worth visiting the website of Dr Izzeldin Abulaish, read his words and share a memory of his three beautiful daughters. You can choose English, Arabic or Hebrew. Click here.

Picture source: http://www.alkhair.co.uk/format/images/gaza/gazahouse.jpg

1 comment:

David said...

This is an excellent proposal. I'd say it's the least we can do, but obviously we've figured out ways to do even less.