From an aid worker blogger in Gaza. What the tv crews cannot possibly tell you, especially as foreign journalists and Israeli journalists are not allowed into Gaza.
Amira Hass from the Israeli paper, Haaretz. January 12, 2009 and, in full, the following I have just added to the post (hence the date discrepancy):
Boycotts may achieve what bombs and guns can't (from The Age , 13 January, 2009)
Randa Abdel-Fattah January 13, 2009 - 12:01AM
As the occupying power, Israel must be the one to make concessions.
AS THE Israeli offensive in Gaza enters its third week, people around the world feel a growing desperation at the failure of the UN and of Western and Middle Eastern governments to secure an end to the violence and slaughter.
When the international system fails, what can be done? The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is rapidly garnering support for Palestinian rights from academic institutions, church groups and other grassroots bodies worldwide. Such sanctions were a vital tool in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa and rehabilitate that state as part of the family of nations.
The furore provoked by a 2007 proposal that Britain's University and Colleges Union should discuss a boycott of Israeli academic institutions demonstrated the immense store Israel sets by its access to civil society around the world. Recently, British telecommunications company FreedomCall terminated its co-operation with Israel's MobileMax in response to the Gaza offensive. And in 2004, the Presbyterian Church (US) voted to divest from companies operating in Israel.
In light of the European Union's moves to upgrade existing trade arrangements with Israel, pressure is being applied on the EU to revoke such ties until Israel honours an "essential element" of the earlier agreement, requiring that state to respect human rights and democratic principles.
As the EU is the largest importer of Israeli goods and the second-largest exporter to Israel, the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement would send a clear message that reflected public feeling.
Boycott and divestment are powerful forms of non-violent resistance to violence and occupation, mobilising people around the world in solidarity with Palestinians and the brave Israelis who work for peace with them. Yet without US support, the movement can only go so far. It remains to be seen whether Barack Obama's election really means a change from the failed policies of the past.
Without effective sanctions, the main value of the boycott movement is to remind Israel that its actions bring it into global disrepute. This is worthwhile as sanctions are not an end in themselves but a means to the end of Palestinian self-determination.
We often hear politicians and commentators proclaim the complexity of this conflict and ask why Palestinians and Israelis can't just get along. The problems of an illegal occupation, the Palestinian refugees and the ever-shrinking territory on which Palestinians are expected to build their state are swept under the carpet. Illegal settlements continue to be built and the ubiquitous "security barrier" snakes its way through the towns and villages of the occupied West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.
Either Israel and the international community act to make an independent Palestinian state a possibility or they accept a solution in which the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of the land live side by side as equal citizens. If Israel insists on being a Jewish state, it cannot also continue to obstruct the birth of a sovereign Palestine with the collusion of its allies and the supine Arab dictatorships.
One tires of hearing this debate framed in terms of two equal parties stubbornly refusing to compromise, as though occupier and occupied are equally culpable. The Israeli PR machine has told us that peace is unattainable because of Hamas. Yet when Hamas accepted a ceasefire, Israel maintained its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Was this not a clear violation of its responsibilities under the agreement and an act of collective punishment?
Before the rockets were launched into Israel, there was an illegal and brutal occupation. Before Hamas existed, that occupation existed. Hamas' charter and its philosophy may well trouble us, but the right of every people to take up arms against occupation is enshrined in international law. Israel seeks to force regime change in Gaza, claiming Hamas cannot be negotiated with. Yet in March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government and stated their readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. It was Israel that refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas because the latter refused to recognise Israel's "right to exist".
Which Israel is Hamas supposed to recognise? The state has no declared borders and its settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues unabated. Do we really expect an indigenous population to simply accept dispossession and exile?
Once upon a time, the PLO was the enemy that could not be talked to. Now it is Hamas' turn, because the alternative is to engage with its proposal for a long-term ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal to its borders before the Six-Day War of 1967, subject to a democratic referendum of the Palestinian people.
In Australia, the major political parties seem content to mouth formulas about the right of Israel to self-defence. No one asks who will defend the stateless Palestinians.
For many years, Indonesia's occupation of East Timor enjoyed similar bipartisan support. Who knows how many lives might have been saved had Australia dared to stand up sooner for a people struggling to be free?
Randa Abdel-Fattah is an Australian lawyer and novelist of Palestinian and Egyptian parentage. Her latest book is Where the Streets Had a Name.
– I would go out tonight
2 years ago