Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Gaza solutions at hand, now implement them

The tide is turning belatedly in the midst of the staggering crisis in Gaza, as shown in the three articles below (verbatim excerpts).

1. Gideon Samet, Despite, not Because (Haaretz, 6 October. 2006, rep at MIFTAH):

Olmert has no problem dragging his feet. In the aquarium – an apt nickname for his bureau – it is easy nowadays to formulate the “because”: the justifications for why it is impossible to talk with them, to help them. However, Israel’s interests demand the “despite” justifications: why it has long been incumbent upon us, and especially in this current crisis period, to make things as easy as possible for the Palestinian population and to talk with its leaders. This is also the right time because the old excuse, that Israeli moderation will play into the hands of Palestinian aggression, is absent. They are flat on their faces, stuck in crippling poverty the likes of which can be found only among the most failed of nations.

He knows what needs to be done, but does not want to do it. More than anything else, Olmert is afraid of what will happen to him in the shaky political arena. He is refusing even though the territories are the most dangerous and nearby stockpile of explosives threatening our national security.

What should be done instead of the declamatory “because?” Aid should be transferred to Gaza, the routes for agricultural exports should be opened, help must be given in restoring the electricity supply, the number of Palestinian workers in Israel ought to be increased, Palestinian prisoners should be released (in the same numbers that will in any case ultimately be released) and Gilad Shalit brought back, talks should be held with the PA chairman and prime minister, a unity government should be encouraged rather than sabotaged, there should be serious discussion of the Saudi initiative, and special attention – not Peretz’s sort – has to be directed to the fact that the initiative, which has already been adopted twice, recently, by the Arab League summit, includes pan-Arab recognition of Israel as its culmination.

Quite a selection for anyone who prefers the “because” due to fear of the “despite.

2. Tim Butcher, Israel Keeps U.S. Waiting on Plan to Ease Gaza’s Agony (Telegraph, October 06, 2006, reproduced at MIFTAH):

Gaza – Condoleezza Rice left Israel yesterday after winning only lukewarm support for a plan to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by improving access for commercial trucks.

As the American secretary of state flew on to Baghdad for surprise talks with the Iraqi government, Israel said it agreed only in principle to her plan and expected more time to consider the details.

“It is a step forward in as much as Israel accepts the concept of the plan but we have not seen the detail yet and nothing will change until all the details are agreed,” said Mark Regev, a government spokesman.

Blockages at the so-called Karni Crossing lie behind many of Gaza’s current problems as it is the only large-scale access point for imports and exports.

An earlier agreement, brokered by Miss Rice last year, envisaged scores of trucks coming and going each day but this proved an illusion as Israel has routinely closed the crossing for security reasons.

Under the £11 million scheme proposed by America, Israel would open the Karni Crossing fully because international observers would be deployed alongside an increased Palestinian security presence.

3. Even in the more conservative Jerusalem Post, Gershon Baskin writes in The New Rejectionist (10 Oct, 2006):

… OTHER POLICIES such as the continued closure of Palestinian territories and borders, the withholding of custom and VAT clearances – money which belongs to the Palestinian people – also contribute to the image of Israel as the regional bully, not only lacking any human compassion, but also lacking any political wisdom.

The international community has no sympathy for Hamas, but even the sad reality unfolding daily in Ramallah and Gaza is, at least in part, viewed by the world as the result of Israel’s constant rejection of real peace with the Palestinians.

… If Israel is demanding a renunciation of violence and an end to aggression as a precondition, then it too must act accordingly. Many people in the international community view targeted killings as state terrorism. The killing of civilians with bombs and rockets from IAF planes and helicopters is viewed no differently in many parts of the world than buses blowing up on Israeli streets.

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"