As US President Donald Trump speaks on video from the White House, and his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner lead the American dedication of the “new” American embassy in Jerusalem, they are accompanied by anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Christian evangelicals, Robert Jeffress and John Hagee offering prayers.
This is a culmination of a Christian Zionist history begun by William Blackstone and Louis Brandeis, who manoeuvred Woodrow Wilson to accept and endorse American Zionism and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which set the course for the establishment of the State of Israel. It has little to do with the interests of the Jews or the Israeli population, but is a drive by irrational adherents of magical religion in a Bible-thumping White House to bring about “end times”.
The Palestinian people are thus being sacrificed on an altar of madness in furious savagery that has become absolutely explicit in the mowing-down of peaceful protesters in Gaza in the past weeks by Israeli forces. Only a deranged White House can believe that the Palestinians will ever bow to Trump’s “Deal of the Century” (“Final Solution”?), and that the acquiescence of illegitimate Arab rulers to their insanity will help them. The latter are cowards, frightened of their own shadows, with little chance of medium-term survival in their respective countries.
It is a sign of a steep decline in the status of the US in the world that its interests have been hijacked by a small group of extremists and that its political and intellectual classes appear to carry on unperturbed by this insanity in an oxygen-free, helium-filled bubble . The chaos that the Christian Zionists have always wished for will now occur. This will not be at a cost to Arabs – that has already been paid long ago as their countries already lie in ruins.
As most sane Americans realise, it will principally be at a severe and irreversible cost to America’s reputation and interests. Even the opinion pages of the New York Times bristle with anguish at the absurd and painful spectacle in the media of “juxtaposed images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette” on the day of the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
Gaza is among the most densely populated places in the world. Two-thirds of its inhabitants are refugees, and more than half the population is under eighteen years of age. Since Israel occupied Gaza in 1967, it has systematically de-developed the economy.
After Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, Israel intensified its blockade of Gaza, and after Hamas consolidated its control of the territory in 2007, Israel further tightened its illegal siege. In the meantime, Israel has launched no less than eight military operations against Gaza-culminating in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014-that left behind over three million tons of rubble. Recent UN reports predict that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.
Norman G. Finkelstein new book GAZA: AN INQUEST INTO ITS MARTYRDOM presents a meticulously researched and devastating inquest into Israel’s actions of the last decade. It argues that although Israel justified its blockade and violent assaults in the name of self-defense, in fact these actions were cynical exercises of brutal power against an essentially defenseless civilian population.
Based on hundreds of human rights reports, the book scrutinizes multifarious violations of international law Israel committed both during its operations and in the course of its decade-long siege of Gaza. It is a monument to Gaza’s martyrs and a scorching accusation against their tormenters.
Mehdi Hasan writes: “If the concept of intervention is driven by universal human rights, why is it — from the people who identify themselves as liberal interventionists — why do we never hear a peep, a word, about intervening to protect the Palestinians?”
That was the question I put to the French philosopher, author, and champion of liberal (or humanitarian) interventionism, Bernard-Henri Lévy, on my Al Jazeera English interview show “Head to Head” in 2013.
The usually silver-tongued Levy struggled to answer the question. The situation in Palestine is “not the same” as in Syria and “you have not all the good on one side and all the bad on the other side,” said Levy, who once remarked in reference to the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, that he had “never seen such a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions.”
I couldn’t help but be reminded of my exchange with the man known as “BHL” this past weekend, as I watched horrific images of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border being shot in the back by the “democratic army” of Israel. How many “moral questions” did those Israeli snipers ask themselves, I wondered, before they gunned down Gazan refugees for daring to demand a return to their homes inside the Green Line?
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UN chief Antonio Guterres has been cautious in his statements on the Palestine question so far, clearly always having one eye trained on US funding of the international body. But in his first visit to the besieged territory, he was moved enough to order the immediate release of $4 million from the body’s emergency relief fund.
“I am deeply moved to be in Gaza today, unfortunately to witness one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I’ve seen in many years working as a humanitarian in the United Nations,” Guterres said. He then stated that it was “important to open the closures,” in reference to the continued blockade by Israel and Egypt of the territory.
Egyptian authorities had stopped an Algerian humanitarian-aid convoy from crossing into the Gaza Strip from Sinai, a Palestinian NGO said Friday.”Egypt’s decision to block the entry of the aid convoy is very unfortunate and does not reflect the positive spirit that has recently characterized Gaza-Egypt relations,” the National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza said in a press statement.
On Friday, Egypt re-closed its border with the Gaza Strip after having opened it to Palestinian pilgrims for the last four days for their travel to Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, Gaza’s border authority said.
Blockaded by Israel by air, land and sea since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh — the Rafah crossing — is controlled by Egypt, which has kept it tightly sealed for the most part since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, in a 2013 military coup
An Indonesian non-governmental organisation has collected nearly $15 million from Indonesia’s poor and rich alike to build the first Indonesian hospital in the Gaza Strip. The hospital has 110 beds and an intensive care unit.
Gaza on Gaza
Exhibition dates: 7 th – 22nd August 2015: Tues – Fri 12-6pm, Sat 12-4pm, Wed 12-8pm
Gaza on Gaza is an exhibition of work by Palestinian artists in response to the lives devastated by the last year’s conflict. During the military offensive 1,500 Palestinian civillians were killed and over 500,000 were displaced from their homes. Across Gaza, the UN estimates that nearly 400,000 children require some form of mental health support to cope with the events they witnessed or experienced over the summer of 2014.
P2 Gallery 21 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD
open Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 12 – 4pm, Wednesdays until 8pm