Eyeless in Gaza


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The past year brought a fresh wave of anti-Israel rhetoric and accusations, most of which cited Israel’s “siege” of Gaza during last winter’s Operation Cast Lead as evidence of Israel’s injustice toward the Palestinians. The international press frequently echoed calls by human rights groups and activists to “end Israel’s illegal blockade” and “liberate Gaza.” Such messages have been conceived to undermine Israel and present a very misleading picture of the actual Gaza conflict.

In a typical blockade, no supplies would be allowed to enter into enemy territory. Similarly, most English dictionaries define siege as an “act or process of surrounding and attacking a fortified place in such a way as to isolate it from help and supplies.” But in fact Israel has allowed substantial shipments of aid into Gaza. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website has reported that in 2009 alone, Israel allowed 703, 224 tons of humanitarian aid and 105,600,128 liters of fuel to be delivered into the Gaza Strip following Operation Cast Lead.

“The IDF invested major resources to enable the flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” said Col. Moshe Levi, the head of the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, in November 2009. According to Levi, humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip increased by 900 percent compared to the previous year. Over 22, 893 humanitarian aid trucks entered into Gaza throughout 2009.

All of this has been pointedly ignored by Israel’s critics. Most recently, the Gaza Freedom March illustrated the way in which pro-Palestinian organizations and left-wing groups have been able to use the international press and media to communicate their Gaza narrative using the “blockade” and “siege” narrative. Organized by Code Pink’s co-founder, Medea Benjamin, who also happens to be Jewish, the Gaza Freedom March received worldwide media attention as protestors set to break the “siege” of Gaza.

The march was able to attract some well-known celebrities, like Roger Walters of Pink Floyd and American novelist Alice Walker. But it was not the support of these two celebrities and others like them that attracted the attention of the press. The Gaza Freedom March organizers had Hedy Epstein, an 85-year old Holocaust survivor and pro-Palestinian activist affiliated with the radical International Solidarity Movement, put in the spotlight for their cause. When Epstein declared a hunger strike to support the Gaza Freedom March, she became an instant international poster girl for the march and made headlines across the world. In its reports about the Gaza Freedom March, the Huffington Post quoted Epstein explaining her support for the Palestinians by likening Israel to Nazi Germany. “[E]everything is due to the Holocaust,” Epstein explained. “But Israel is not being persecuted now. Israel is now the persecutor.”

Unfortunately, those who support the Gaza Freedom March and Palestinian rights, like Hedy Epstein and Medea Benjamin, disregard the other side of the Mideast conflict. Operation Cast Lead took place to stop the thousands of Gaza rockets striking Israeli schools, playgrounds, homes and communities each year. Equally absurd is the way such groups ignore Israeli policies that are set to ensure Palestinians’ access to humanitarian aid and goods – despite the fact that Palestinian terror attacks continue on the Israeli border crossings through which these goods pass.

The original intention of the Gaza Freedom March protestors was to demonstrate that Israel was the sole cause of hardship for Gaza’s Palestinians. Inadvertently, the Gaza Freedom March actually brought to light the siege-like policies of Hamas, the extremist Islamic regime that took over Gaza in 2007.

Haaretz reported earlier this month the Hamas government imposed a “siege” of its own on Gaza residents, prohibiting them from providing lodgings to several hundred international protestors. According to the article, “tough, Hamas security men,” accompanied the peaceful activists during their visit to Gaza and blocked them from speaking with ordinary Gazan residents. “The march turned into nothing more than a ritual, an opportunity for Hamas cabinet ministers to get decent media coverage in the company of Western demonstrators. Hamas hijacked the initiative and we gave in,” said one protestor quoted in the article.

There were barely any Palestinians who took part in the Gaza Freedom March, and absolutely no Palestinian women. Italian photojournalist Anna Selini reported that most of the marchers were international supporters. “Hamas did not encourage, even discouraged local people from participating,” Selini said. Haaretz has similarly reported that activists got the impression that “non-Hamas residents live in fear, and are afraid to speak or identify themselves by name.

This is not surprising. In December 2008, the Hamas parliament imposed Islamic Sharia law onto the Palestinian judicial system. Hamas punishments for Palestinian offenders include whipping, severing hands for stealing, crucifixion and even hanging. Few if any among the 1,300 international protestors of Israel’s alleged repression of Gaza realized that their message of freedom for Gaza would have been far more effective had it been directed towards Hamas.

Anav Silverman is the international correspondent for Sderot Media Center, a social media organization dedicated to bringing the voices of Sderot and Negev residents to the attention of the global community.

  • William Smart

    No surprise the world is horrified by what Israel did in Gaza, because they told us it was intended to be disproportionate.

    The world heard the IDF Chief Gadi Eisenkot say: "What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. … We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. … This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."

    Others have said similar things, Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), defined every Palestinian killed in the Gaza Strip as a terrorist, including small children and the elderly infirm.

  • Alan

    Jews who support the Palestinian Muslims who fire rockets into Israel, deliberately kill innocent animals in the Gaza zoo, and who torture, intimidate and murder their own Christian brothers are NOT Jews.

    They are NAZIS, plain and simple.

  • Alan

    William Dumb NOT Smart,

    If you love the Palestinian Muslims so much, go and live with them.

    Another typical Jew-hating Fascist pig who'll never practice what he preaches, because he knows damn well his friends would slit his throat at a moment's notice. But hey, it's cool to rant at dem Jooz.

  • AntiFascist18

    Medea Benjamin = Feldhure who served the Nazis.

    In their case they had no choice. In Medea's case she does but hey, she'd prefer loving Hitler than to exhibiting common sense and morality.

  • Stephen D.

    “…will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on.”
    So Mr. Smart you admit The so called “Palestinians” FIRED ROCKETS FIRST. If they had fired a rocket into your neighborhood…well, maybe not you because we know you’re above us all, but If they fired a rocket into MY neighborhood after having been warned not to, I’d follow up with like or more devistating force. Bravo to Israel!!

  • seels4truth

    Hedy is not a victim of the Holocaust. She was one of the secular German Jews that refused to acknowledge any relation to Eastern European Jewry. Her parents were killed because Hitler never differentiated between Hedy's type of Jew and Jewry as a whole. And she has never stopped being the secular Jew that wants to be accepted by secular society. And to do so she criticizes anything a right wing Jew may do. Self-defense? Not a chance! Biblical claims to land in Israel? Not a chance! But willfully shooting at civilians? Must be true! Hamas had nothing to do with hiding behind them.

  • marge

    The diehard supporters of the apartheid state of Israel and its genocide of the Palestinians, child killing, and land stealing are of the same mentality as that of the German Nazis and those who supported Slavery in the US and apartheid in South Africa. Israel's crimes against the Palestinians are horrendous and crimes against humanity. Israel is trying to hide its crimes from the world by preventing the news media, NGO workers, Dignitaries, Reconstruction workers, and all others from entering Gaza and seeing its crimes. Its time for the truth to be told about Israel's crimes on the Palestinians and the complicity of the US in Israel's crimes.

  • marge

    The siege on Gaza is undisputable since Israel controls Gaza's Waterways, its Airspace, and land. Israel has gate, roadblocks, and barriers set up and controlled by armed Israeli soldiers to monitor all Gaza entrance and exit traffic. Israel is using its siege to deny the Palestinian people the basic necessities for survival, and causing numerous deaths from contaminated drinking water, disease, lack of medicine, and access to medical care. Israel interrogates sick Palestinians for information on Hamas and tries to turn them into spies for Israel as a condition for medical treatment.

    As for Sderot, the target of Hamas' rockets, it was a thriving little Palestinian village called Najd until it was taken over by the Israeli Jews. Palestinians are firing rockets to protest against Israel's land stealing which continues with no end.

    Israel's crimes are a violation of international law and UN Resolutions.

    • xman

      Well Marge the Moron, the Gazans are so badly done to that they're the eighth fattest people on the planet with a life expectancy of more than 74 years. They're not badly off. Quite the reverse. Israel must be the only country on the earth that has ever existed that has been forced to feed, clothe and provide their sworn enemies with gas, running water and electricity. And in return for this generosity, they get rockets fired at their civilians and terrorist atrocities on buses, inside cafes and shopping malls. Now off you go to Iran, brainless pig.

  • stern

    marge, you sick little puppy, how about a dose of reality. Please see this article – and don't miss the pictures of life in Gaza, as it really is. I think you'll be shocked out of your pooped little panties!

  • stern

    Sorry Marge, darn thing posted before I could paste in the link:
    http://www.globallawforum.org/ViewBlog.aspx?Artic

  • marge

    To: xman and stern,

    Your names calling, hasbara rhetoric is typical of those who support apartheid Israel. Anyone who tells the truth about Israel is vilified, even Zionist Jews like Falk, Goldstone, and Rahm. So i guess i am pretty lucky to get off with just being called names. Anyway, i blame the US, UN, and EU more for the predicament of the Palestinians than i do Israel. The US provides Israel with incentives to commit crimes against the Palestinian and Arab people beause the US gives Israel protection and weapons, including nuclear weapons, based on its level of danger from arab neighbors. Israel, in turn, portrays itself as a victim in constant danger of being annihiated by its arab neighbors. This may have been true sometime ago, but not today. Israel is the only country in the Middle East today today that is occupying a people and committing genocide, land stealing, ethnic cleansing, and terrorism. The US needs to re-evaluate Israel's level of danger and stop giving Israel the most powerful weapons in the world to use against defenseless Palestinian and Arab civilians. This may help Israel face the reality that violence is not always the solution and be more receptive to make peace with the Arabs and Palestinians .

    • coyote3

      Heh marge, as far as I am concerned they are all camel drivers, the Israelis included. That being said, you don't have any proof that the U.S. has "given" Israel nuclear weapons. So, regardless of whatever else you are, and I don't even care about that, you are a liar. Also, as far as the Israelis treating all Palestinians as terrorists, well their conduct, including children, elderly and infirmed, is consistent with that of terrorists. So, I guess Israel is just taking the next logical step. True, not all Moslems are terrorist, but all of the terrorists we are currently facing "are" in fact Moslems. The minute Jews start driving planes into building in the U.S., I will assume they are terrorists as well.

    • stern

      marge, did you even look at the link I provided? Do so, you'll find it very instructive, even shocking. here it is again, to save you the trouble of scrolling up:
      http://www.globallawforum.org/ViewBlog.aspx?Artic

    • xman

      Oh dear, it seems that nobody waited for Marge to die before hooking her brain down her nose, just as in the days of the Pharaohs following the death of a pharaoh. This sub water flea-I.Q. poltroon is once again showing itself up for the vile and bigoted trash that it is. The Gazans are supplied with food, water, electricity and gas by the Israelis, and in return they fire rockets into Israel and send splodeydopes onto Israeli buses and into shopping malls. Had the Gaza Strip bordered China and Hamas terrorists were firing missiles into bordering Chinese cities, we know what would happen. Gaza would be levelled, and the terrorist problem solved the only way the Chinese know how. They wouldn't give a stuff about so-called civilian casualties. The whole place would be flattened, and if any so-called peaceniks who hate Jews got in the way of the Chinese, they'd soon meet their makers.

  • Happy and Proud

    We don't vilify everyone who disagrees with us Marge, only fools and antisemites like you.

  • rudy mike

    To Marge: the muslim world created this refugee and terrorist problem.
    Those who call themselves "palestinian' should just get out of the Jewish land they occupy. Their pipe piper Arafat is with Mohammed where ever in enternity and so they all should go back to their original homes, before they came to live off hard working Jewish people.

  • marge

    coyote8,

    Never meant to say the US gave Israel nuclear weapons. That was my mistake. Sentence should have read "The US provides Israel with incentives to commit crimes against the Palestinian and Arab people beause the US gives Israel protection and weapons, including allowing it to have nuclear weapons, based on its level of danger from its arab neighbors.

  • marge

    By the way, you evidently agree with the Jewish Rabbis who are writing books and instructing the Israeli military of their obligation to kill all Palestinians, including infants and young children. This is also true of Chief Rabbi of the IDF who instructed his troops to show no mercy during the attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, inwhich almost Palestinian 400 children were killed. Wonder how you would feel if the military targeted and killed your children who are innocent and unabled to defend themselves!

    Please look at any Haaretz Newspaper prior to 1/15/10 and see Israeli Meir Panim Org. advertisement using the photo of a crying Palestinian child to raise money for Hungry Israeli children? The photo of the crying Palestinian child is pictured in the Telegraph co. uk. on 1/4/10, and was taken at the funeral of her brother who was killed by the IDF during Israel's attack on Gaza in 2008-2009. Do you agree with this dishonest, disgusting act by Israeli Jews, who are victimizing the victim all over again?

    SEE: US/Israeli Charity uses little Palestinian Childs to raise money" is for

    • stern

      And marge, you evidently agree with the Hamas/PA tactics of inciting hatred, teaching in schools that suicide bombers are "holy warriors", dressing toddlers up as terrorists, naming schools and summer camps after killers, shooting rockets into civilian Israeli areas and so much more. Of course, as far as you're concerned, all that's fine. But one or two Rabbis inform their troops that in war, it's kill or be killed, and you throw a snit!

      Get real marge. No matter how badly you try to portray Israel and the IDF, they will never sink to the depths of the Palestinians whose cause you hold so dear. And that's why I maintain that you're a very, very sick puppy.

      • xman

        Marge is clearly disappointed at being born 70 years too late to pour the Zyklon crystals into the showers at Auschwitz.

  • USMCSniper

    The Palestinians are the initiators of the violence–an indiscriminate violence in which they do not care whom they kill, whether soldier or child. Israel, in contrast, is acting in self-defense, in retaliation for such terrorism. And its response is aimed at those responsible for the violence and at the facilities from which they operate. (Any innocent noncombatants killed in the process are not the targets of the retaliation, and their blood is on the terrorists' hands.)

    The Palestinians are not seeking to gain their freedom–they are unequivocal enemies of freedom. They, along with the rest of the Arab world, reject the whole concept of rights. Every Arab country is a monarchy, theocracy or some kind of dictatorship. Freedom of speech, property rights, free elections, and the separation of church and state are almost nonexistent. Speaking out against the rulers or against the Muslim religion leads to imprisonment or death. All attempts to start competing political parties are ruthlessly crushed

  • vvb

    To: Smart and Marge
    In respond to your commentary it is obvious that you are righteous, ignorant, uninformed stupid and full of hate toward the Jewish people and Israel. You have no knowledge of the Jewish history, Israel or the Middle East and no understanding of what you are saying. You have bought into the Arab propaganda and have no idea what you are talking about!!!!!!!
    It is disgusting to read what self hating jews, do today to the jewish people and Israel!!!!!!!
    What rock all these untisemiths have curled from under????????
    I am a child survivor who grow up in Israel and I am ashamed to know that there are jews like rhese among us. These are the worse enemies Jews can have.
    As they say with the like of these who needs enemies!!!!!!!

  • benjamin

    USMCSniper: Have you ever travelled in the Middle East outside of military operations? You are full of abject racist bile peppered with ignorance.
    1. Palestinians in no way initiated violence. Did they ask to be occupied by a foreign nation? Would you live under a foreign occupier for 40 years and not think about violence? Who fired the first shots of the 2nd Intifada against unarmed protesters? On Sept. 29, 2000 Israel did.
    2. Israel has murdered 10x more children than Palestinians from 2000-2009 (124 versus 1441). In 2009 it was 1 Israeli child versus 294 Palestinian children. http://www.rememberthesechildren.org/remember2009.html
    3. Israel is not acting in self-defense so long as it occupies foreign land illegally. It is the aggressor. Defending illegal occupation is not a justifiable excuse.
    4. Have you ever spoken to a Palestinian? I am an American Jew who has been working in the occupied Palestinian Territories on and off for 8 years. Your drivel about freedom, personal property, elections etc. is pure drivel and not even worth wasting my time. Israel denies freedom of movement, arrests people who speak out without charge, bans Palestinians from building on their own land and denies the basic freedoms all humans deserve.

    Simple question – if you lived under foreign military occupation for over 40 years, what would you do?

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