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Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Which countries do not officially recognise Taiwan nowadays? I wonder if it still exists? Of course that is not a case of occupier/occupied, but still it is there, despite China continuously telling us Taiwan is part of China, and the Taiwanese saying that it is something else.

From what I know of it, I do not like Sharia law, if that is what Hamas uphold. By the same token, they were an elected government, by the people, and they had infrastructure in Gaza, and by that, I mean schools, kindergartens, universities, and so on. I do not believe that all of those buildings were disguised armaments. Also, Gaza existed long before Hamas, and many of these infrastructures were also in place (take note of the past tense) long before Hamas were. Additionally, in February 2008, Hamas were offering Israel a long-term cease-fire, lasting decades (from the Jewish Daily Forward, 28 February, 2008).

This from the Israeli pro-human rights (and aren't we all pro-human rights?) journalist, Amira Hass, after a November visit to Gaza, from Israel's Haaretz (December 30, 2008). I arrived at this article via the Australian media watch Middle East Reality Check blog, and have initially taken the quote that the writer of that blog ran with.

In This is Gaza (30/12/08) Hass wrote," Gaza is the ability to tell jokes in any situation, and the burning insult of having no running water for 3 or 4 days. And yet, the children go clean and neat to school... Gaza is also parents leaving their children alone at home, without fear, or letting them go to a playground far from home, or go by themselves to their grandmother in the Jabaliya refugee camp... "

She also reports of the contradictions of the place:

"Gaza is the teacher who forces school girls to cover their heads, although senior officials* assert that this is not the education ministry's policy. It is exaggerations and false rumors, and it is also the Fatah detainees' report that cameras were installed in the interrogation room to ensure that the interrogators act within the boundaries of the law. It is the surprise when "Hamas" police restore stolen property, even before it has been reported stolen. "
*Senior officials = Hamas, I assume.

There have been human rights abuses perpetuated by both Hamas and Fatah, as detailed by B'Tselem , The Israeli Center for Human rights in the Occupied Territories (2007) (though the Israeli-perpetuated abuses still far outweigh them). Even so:

"Gaza is people's constant attempt to cling to a normal life, although Israel foists on them abnormal terms of imprisonment, isolation from the rest of the world and deterioration to a state of humiliating dependence on international charity programs."

Whether Hamas (when not under bombardment) aids or hinders that attempt, I do not know. However, as said above, Israel certainly does little to encourage it. This is not the first report I have heard of this resilience and care amongst the people under occupation.

Remember that there was a ceasefire between Gaza and Israel from June to when it was broken by Israeli forces. Here, or if you want another source, here , or if you want jocularity in the face of tragedy, this report from CNN detailing the events. Does Israel just want all out war in the area, or does it want to wipe Gaza from the map? These were "the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: 'The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people."' (Rashid Kalidi, What You Don't Know About Gaza, January 8, 2009, The New York Times). Maybe it is continuation of the sentiment.

[Note, added January 16th, an interesting article: The Conflict Within Hamas (Edward Platt, New Statesman, January 15, 2009].

The reports posted on popular "news" sites in Australia seem to be no longer reporting civilian deaths, or war crimes. The only shots they have are of burnt-out buildings, or plumes of smoke. If you want to see what photos of dead and wounded people look like, to get a real idea, you might want to go here , or to read the stories of the people, you might want to go here, or here, or here, or visit some of the Palestinian news sites or the Al Jazeera website (they operate from Qatar and CNN and the BBC and other stations often use their footage or reports [refer to the references])

Let's not forget the rest of the Palestinians while we are at it, though of course I can really only speak for myself.

Post Script: From the same link as the opening one. In February, The Jewish Daily Forward (28/02/2008), reported that the Israeli public was in favour of talks, rather than never negotiating: "...the Israeli public is ahead of its leaders. A new poll conducted by Tel Aviv University and published this week in Ha’aretz shows that 64% of Israelis favor talks with Hamas, and only 28% are opposed". Whether that remains true or not, I do not know, as it seems all reports of opinion polls indicate that the war is popular with the Israeli public (not all, I hasten to add). As with us, they do not get live coverage which involves people, and they probably get the same bombed out building as visual proof of the IDF's "successes". Though, of course, from a radio report just heard (with Israeli, Efrat Wolfson. Go to this link and listen to the Jan 14, 2009 show), those who are opposed, and who work together for peace, do not get the coverage, as is the way.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr