A colleague of mine posted what was obviously a carefully doctored video of Bibi Netanyahu saying he wanted to cause maximum casualties in the Gaza Strip.
He doesn’t — it would be too embarrassing for Israel’s public stance as a supposedly humanitarian country — but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Gazans live in a concentration camp that they can’t leave by land, by sea, or by air. So they dig tunnels like POWs and concentration camp residents have often done. (One of my uncles spent a year in a german POW camp when his plane was shot down over the Western front in 1918. He tried to escape, but wasn’t successful, he wrote in a letter I found. Why shouldn’t Gazans do likewise?)
But I’m getting off topic. Here’s what I wrote on my colleague’s FB page:
I lived and worked on a kibbutz directly next to the Gaza Strip. I left the area exactly 40 years ago, despairing that there would never be peace. It’s a complicated situation, but the only real solution is one that gets rid of all religious-based governments in that part of the world (be they Muslim, Christan, Jewish, Baha’i, Druze, Hindu, Confucian, Maoist, Buddhist, or what have you).
All residents of whatever-you-want-to-call-that-region should have equal rights, including that of freedom to travel and worship (or not) and marriage and land ownership, and to be compensated for land and belongings stolen or destroyed in all of these repeated wars.
I was at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in 1974 for about 7 months. I had learned to speak Hebrew fairly well, and could read newspapers, but slowly. At that time, Gazans could cross the border with a pass to work in Israel, and many did. I thought it reminded me of what I had read about in South Africa — an all of our kibbutz members were against such injustices. Practically the entire kibbutz went to a massive demo in Jerusalem against illegal Jewish settlements begun under Ariel Sharon, right before I left. I went too.
However, some of the right wing counter demonstrators said, hey, aren’t you living on land we stole from the Arabs? What we need to do, they said, is kick ALL Arabs out if ALL of Greater Israel. G-d gave it to us after Moses died, we have a deal with G-d, and we mean to take it all back (or words to that effect).
Those folks used to be called “Revisionists” and formed the right wing of the Zionist movement, which had people from all parts of the political spectrum — my kibbutz was formed by Hashomer HaTzair, which was very far left. Many of its members had to decide whether they should stay in Europe and be a part of the Communist movements there, or go to Palestine and set up communistic kibbutzim there. I would dare to say that the members of Hashomer HaTzair in Europe that went to Palestine or America were the ones that survived. The ones that remained in Europe had extremely high odds of being killed, either by Hitler or Stalin.
The Revisionists, just like the Baath, were very stronly right-wing nationalists, like Saddam Hussein, fashioned their ideas and tactics on the Falange and Italy’s Fascisti.
I’m not exaggerating. Go look it all up.
Now, I’m sure that the tape I saw was doctored, but I’m no expert on how to do that sort of thing, so I’ve only got a few guesses on how they did that.
Back to Gaza: In my opinion, the only solution is to get rid of the religious basis of the governments of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, the USA, and Israel-Palestine. Let all people of all religions or of no religion live together on the basis of equal rights and mutual tolerance and respect and justice.
Just don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
When I lived there (1974), our kibbutz had virtually free irrigation water pumped to us from the headwaters of the Jordan River, modern tractors and poultry barns, and so on. On the other side of the fence– a bit too far for me to throw a stone across from the little kibbutz bedroom I shared with my Jewish girlfriend — the Palestinians were plowing with an old automobile bumper tied to a camel. Irrigation, for them, was piling up stones and hoping that a little dew would trickle onto the rocks.
Believe me, not that we were living ‘high on the hog’ or anything, but all that modern agricultural stuff cost a lot of money, and none of the permanent or temporary members of our kibbutz put up any cash to pay for all if our facilities. That was very nice, but that was all given to us by the Sokhnoot– the Jewish Agency. (I understand that the “bill” for all the kibbutz land and so on came due, so to speak, in the 1980s, and a lot of kibbutzim went broke and/or had to sell off land so that people could put up subdivisions, but I’m getting away from the point. The conditions on the other side of the fence were much, much worse, and it was occupied territory, but today it’s much worse, as far as I can tell from here. Gaza today more like a completely surrounded ghetto in WW2 Poland, where the bad guys only sporadically allow in essential supplies like food, water, electricity, or anything to fix or repair any of its infrastructure.
Did I mention that Gaza is very close to twice the size of the District of Columbia, with about three times the population as well? 61 square miles for WDC and 139 sq.mi for Gaza; 1.8 million people in Gaza and 623,000 in DC. And there are no permanent rivers flowing through Gaza, unlike DC, from which they could draw water!
There were lots of things I liked about communal work and life on the kibbutz, but the disparities with the lives of the Palestinians remained embarrassing. I hoped it would get better, but things in the Middle East have been pretty grim for a long, long time, no matter which messiah or leader or social movement might arise. (Breaking up with my girlfriend also certainly gave me an impetus to leave!)
But in any case, it is hard to be very optimistic about the chances for peace and justice actually breaking out ANYwhere in the Middle East, any time soon.