The Gaza Debate: Our Editorials
Last issue, we published the article, "Gaza Strip" by Jason Deville, admittedly without a corresponding and opposing point of view. It took English Instructor Jay Adler far less time to register his complaint about that oversight and to express his own opposing point of view than it has taken us to publish the response. And he's on sabbatical. So, in the interest of fairness and healthy debate, below is Professor Adler's response and to the right is Jason's original article. You may enter into this debate by posting a comment on our comments page.
Professor A. J. Adler's Response to Jason Deville's Article, "The Gaza Strip"
Article? Opinion Piece? on Gaza in The Word
I am extremely chagrined by the appearance of Jason Deville's Gaza Strip piece in The Word without any clarification as to the nature of the piece and without an opposing view.
Deville is a student (I presume) and so it is to be anticipated that he might not be adequately informed on the range of issues and even, as he in fact is, factually mistaken in many instances. It is, of course, the job of a college and a college newspaper both to inform and educate, student writers and student and other readership. Unfortunately, many have now been quite prejudicially misinformed.
Deville refers to the conditions in Gaza as a genocide against Palestinians perpetrated by Israel. This is a horrendous and false charge, made worse because allowed to go unanswered. How many formative minds have now been influenced by it?
To offer only a few examples:
Deville refers to "attacks" by Israel. Israel did not attack Gaza. It responded to ongoing missile and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza. Deville refers to "constant" attacks by Israel. In fact, the recent conflict lasted from December 27, 2008 until January 17, 2009, a period of three weeks. In contrast, missile attacks from Gaza on a single Israeli town - Siderot - have gone on for more than eight years, with over 7500 missiles having been fired at the town.
Deville refers to Hamas as a "radical group with-in Gaza." In fact, Hamas is the sole and ruling party of Gaza, having eliminated rival parties by force of arms. Among other declarations, the Hamas Charter, or Covenant, states:
* "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."
* "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
* "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
* The charter cites the conspiratorial Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic document forged by the Russian czarist secret police at the end of the nineteenth century and that continues to be referenced only by the most ignorant and unreconstructed of anti-Semites.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very complex one with a long and involved history. However unfortunate was the recent three-week clash, it was, sadly, but one event in a fabric of many such and larger events stretching back over decades. To consider Gaza now only, stripped of all context, and of such information as I provide above, is to fail to practice the study of history, a failure not to be committed at a college.
I hope you will act quickly to correct the imbalance and misinformation of the recently published piece.
Jason Deville's Original Article from Last Issue
Gaza Strip By Jason Deville
60 years of death, destruction, and starvation; a plague made tangible by human hands and sustained by mutual hate. A war founded on religious beliefs between Jews and Muslims, Israelites and Palestinians. Forcing Children to be made martyrs even before their birth and leaving an entire region in turmoil. Constant bombings of schools, hospitals, and public places is the norm in there society. Raising just one question will this war ever end or is it futile even to attempt to stop it. “In Gaza City, hospitals are still in dire need of supplies, almost everything you can think of is not available, we don't have gloves, bandages, or local antibiotic ointment and we are short on basic medicines and antibiotics. we've been tearing bed sheets to use as tourniquets. There have been three to four people on each bed because we don't have space" (US.oneworld.net).The city of Gaza home to thousands of Palestinians, but it’s also the home to innumerable travesties of human rights laws. People are forced to live in shamble of places that used to be building; living in nearly perpetual darkness because the electricity has been knocked out. Most don’t have running water or a way to receive food or proper medical care. Then add to that there is a complete and total blockade of the area that surrounds it put in place by Israel. Just that alone is justification enough to label Gaza one of the most unlivable places on the earth. “The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is having ever more serious consequences on its population. In the past month the supply of humanitarian aid and basic necessities to Gaza has been reduced from a trickle to an intermittent drip” (US.oneworld.net). Now on the news when someone says there is a blockade they don’t make it seem that bad. But the reality is that it more resembles the countenance of a cold and calculated murderer. They only allow enough aid to the people of Gaza that the people can survive and nothing more. It’s not even a handful for every kid and a lot of them don’t get anything at all. This is the equivalent of them performing genocide on the people of Gaza. This horrendous mockery of what it means to allow aid is the only thing that the people of Gaza to look forward to. “Sharp explosions rang out across Gaza, and tank fire and airstrikes lit the darkened sky. This is a war that should not be going on at the present time, both Israel and Palestine had agreed to a cease-fire. Yet both on numerous occasions through out this recent year have broken the cease-fire. But in American media (Fox and MSNBC) they constantly blame Hamas (a radical group with-in Gaza) for breaking it, the only thing that even attempted to protect Gaza in any physical way. “SDEROT, Israel — this working-class border town has been pounded with several thousand missiles fired out of Gaza since 2001. Now anxiety is mixed with satisfaction that Israel's military is finally getting even with its tormentors” (Fox news). “A missile targeted my relatives," said Adhem Abdulal, a tall boy with a bright grin. "My cousin got shrapnel in his leg. Another cousin got shrapnel in his head" (– The Washington post). Out of 1.5 million residence of Gaza half the population is under the age of 16, and they will bear the deepest marks from this tragedy. 280 children have been killed and the number may be even high if you add the ones dieing from starvation. But the damage may go beyond the physical and delve into the realm of the psychological. What are the ramifications of these constant attacks? What will this influence the children of Gaza to do when they are older, or will there fragile psyche hold long enough for them to reach adulthood. "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!" and banners reading, "Enough!" thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest against the country's war on Gaza”( – Al-Jazeera English). Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out when your own people protest against you that you’re not doing what’s in the best interest of your country. Even John Stewart (Host of the Daily Show) one of the most celebrated Jews in America has openly opposed the war. “Thousands of Palestinian supporters took to the streets of Canadian cities Saturday to protest Israel's attack on Gaza and to urge the Canadian government to speak up against the increasing violence in the region”. Even other countries have taken up arms (in a democratic way) against Israel. Sometimes I despair for our nation, we who use to be at the Forefront of the human rights initiative. “I haven’t seen anything but cowardice and expediency. This used to be a nation of giants. Where have they gone? (Steinbeck)”. How has it come to this, when America has fallen behind ever other county in regards to human rights? For this nation which has fought for almost everything like free-speech, the right to burn the flag, and the right for ever man, women and child to be free with-in our borders; A nation that can have a case as controversial as Roe vs. Wade — to not even move when a people has been suffering this long is an atrocity on perpetrated by us. Israel may be our allies and support America in every venture, from war to oil gains, but if they are our allies they should be held to higher standards just as we (for the most part) hold ourselves to higher standards. I know that there is little our people can do to change the situation, but there are things that we can do to alleviate there pain. Barack Obama has tried to send missives of peace to Israel and Gaza they have been heard but to little effect. Then there is the U.S Senate, which is always looking out for what’s best for them and has decided to reaffirm its support for Israel in the form of a bill. I am also sad to say that only a few—in fact only “Four Democrats, Representatives Dennis Kucinich (OH), Maxine Waters (CA), Gwen Moore (WI), and Nick Rahall (WV) and one Republican, Ron Paul (TX) voted against the resolution” (Google groups) I don’t understand where the people’s will to fight went to, where the ideal of standing up for what’s right, went. But it’s not too late we can still do something. Although we can’t physically do something we can get more involved with our government and implore them to stop their support of Israel until they come to a peaceful resolution. Also we can form an organization that could accept donations and help fund the children of Gaza. Additionally we could send them the hospital supplies that they desperately need possibly in the “Berlin Airlift” style. Then there is the more conventional approach of protesting in public places and getting plenty of people involved, like Martin Luther King did. Or the Michel Moore: approach and hold a protest in a place of government. As long as something is being done, it doesn’t matter what style you chose as long as we make sure these horrendous attacks against human right are abated. As I write this there are still kids in Gaza sitting in the dark with out food, water, or shelter. With jets flying over head creating constant sonic booms, bombarding them with debris from the already demolished buildings. With the ever-present chance of another bombing from Israel. I know that majority of America begs the question why should we care it’s not us? The answer is a simple one: think of the precedent it would set for America as a whole from the average citizen to the huge corporation. We could bring about a new pinnacle of human rights across the world. We could be the harbingers of a new social era, instead of the sullied, blood stained, mockery that America has become. So with that I make one more final plea to take up arms in some form and confront this menace. It doesn’t matter who started this war; all that matters is that we don’t allow it to continue and that we protect the innocent civilians of Gaza and insure that this isn’t the last time we hear of a Palestinian in Gaza.