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Sunday, 11 January 2009


810 dead, 3400 wounded
10,000 (ninemsn) or 100,000? (The Guardian).
500? (Australia's ABC) or thousands? (Fairfax)

Oh, and if you are against the War, and actually comment that keeping people behind borders and starving them since 2006, and then bombing them, with the likely outcome that they will die, is not dissimilar to a concentration camp, the old religious arguments wade in. Remember, this is not really a new situation, though neither is it centuries old. The Vatican made that comparison. "...More and more it resembles a big concentration camp" was said. It is true that the Vatican played a despicable role in WWII, and that the Christians have committed many crimes against the Jewish people throughout time, and that failure to prevent the Holocaust is one of the most appalling tragedies of the 20th century, and the atrocities of the Holocaust should never be condoned. However, comparing the conditions in Gaza as outlined above to a concentration camp does not make one a Holocaust denier, which is the accusation levelled against the Vatican in that article. In fact, does not making the statement enforce the fact that the Holocaust occurred? Just what logic is being operated here? Why is this argument always used to stifle discussion, opinion and criticsim? Using it to counter all and every comment which is negative to Israel surely cheapens and devalues the terrible suffering of the Jews in WWII.

Of course accusations of denying the Holocaust lead to accusations of one being anti-Semitic. Egypt should open its borders too, and is also culpable of turning the area into something very close to a concentration camp. Though it isn't firing the bullets. Even so, where can people flee? By observing that, does it also mean that I am anti-Islam? I guess it must, though I am not, and neither am I anti-Semitic.

Of course this is going to get played out as a religious war, and the longer it goes on the more fanatics it will attract to either side, and the more anti-Semitism and anti-Islam will actually rise, as Israel positions itself as representing all Jewish people, and many extreme Muslim groups will, as they have done before, use the plight of the Palestinian people to justify their platform . Innocent people of either religion will be affected.

People who may not be sympathetic to extremists on one side will see that very little is done to prevent the bloodshed of civilians, and they will see that that the majority of the international community, including the Arab heads of state, once again seem to endorse the use of phosphorous bombs in civilian areas, the bombings of schools, the shelling of houses with people inside, the targeting of aid workers, the killing of women and children; they will see that only some people are allowed to have democratic elections, and they will see negotiation is not valued, nor is keeping an agreement, and so they will look for alternative ways which might be the equivalent of the above, and therefore, these ways probably won't be pretty.

As our governments do not condemn Israel or hold it accountable for its actions, or have been very slow in doing so, and as our governments are inexplicably tied to the US government which gave Israel most of its foreign aid budget from 1976-2004(surpassed now by Iraq) to do with it what she will (no ties and with special benefits not extended to other recipients), and which gives a green light to the majority of Israeli action, we will be seen as complicit in not only turning our backs while slaughter occurs, but in encouraging it. Globally this will have a huge effect. We keep denying moderates their voice, encourage extremists, and then get surprised when carnage occurs. If Israel had acknowledged Fatah when Fatah was in power and popular with the Palestinian public, and had not encouraged the rise of Hamas, would this situation be happening now? If Israel had acknowledged that Hamas was an elected government, and negotiated with them rather than placing sanctions on Gaza and outlawing them, would this situation be happening now? If the occupation of Palestine was seen in the wider world as what it is, an illegal occupation (Resolution 242), and if our press actually reminded us of this, how might things be different? Would we be as complacent in our acceptance of the "facts" of the matter?

However, I think that people feel on a humanitarian basis, which seems to have very little to do with mainstream religion nowadays, that this war and these actions, this collective punishment is wrong, as detailed by the Geneva Convention (article 33). I think that many people do not stand behind their governments' seemingly official full endorsement of such atrocities, which have occurred before the start of this incursion, and have occurred throughout Israel's history. Remember, Israeli journalists are not allowed into Gaza, and foreign journalists are expelled as well, apart from tiny windows. Israel has a right to exist and she has enough guns to make sure she always will. Maybe if she recognised the right for others to exist as well, some progress might get made.

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