What Have You Got against Gaza, Mr Brown?

By Stu Littlewood

James Gordon Brown, you are a ‘son of the manse’, which means you were raised in the household of a church minister. You’ll be quite big on Christian principles, then.
 
So how do you explain your uncritical support of a foreign government that practises apartheid and is a wholesale thief, plunderer and wrecker of other people’s lands, carelessly kill children and inflicts slow genocide on defenceless civilians, sends snatch squads to break your door down in the middle of the night and manhandle your family, demolish your home and imprison you indefinitely without charge or trial, deals with its ‘enemies’ by torture and assassination, and ceaselessly breaches the rules of civilised conduct? 
 
As if that weren’t enough Israel terrorises the Holy Land’s Christian communities along with their Muslim neighbours, and uses pernicious administrative controls to disrupt the life and work of the Church.

In a speech to Labour Friends of Israel you said: "Many of you know my interest in Israel and in the Jewish community has been long-standing… My father was the chairman of the Church of Scotland’s Israel Committee. Not only… did he make visits on almost two occasions a year for 20 years to Israel – but because of that, although Fife, where I grew up, was a long way from Israel with no TV pictures to link us together – I had a very clear view from household slides and projectors about the history of Israel, about the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people, about the enormous suffering and loss during the Holocaust, as well as the extraordinary struggle that he described to me of people to create this magnificent homeland."

In reality the “extraordinary struggle” has been a 60-year crime spree – a violent exercise in seizing the Palestinians’ homeland and forcing them to flee.

It is a puzzle why true Christians would wish to embrace Zionism. Don’t they understand the nature of the project and the injustice to others?

Since 1948 it has become abundantly clear that the 57 percent of the territory generously handed out by the UN wasn’t enough, they want it all, and there’ll be no peace until they have created as many irreversible ‘facts on the ground’ as necessary to make sure Israel’s occupation of Palestine is permanent, especially where it encompasses prime lands and key water resources.

“Put the Palestinians on a diet…”

Dov Weisglass, adviser to your friend Ehud Olmert, said of Israel’s siege of Gaza: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

The hunger pangs are supposed to turn the Palestinians against Hamas, leaving Israel and the Quartet with only the corrupt and compliant Fatah faction to browbeat into submission. But the severity of the blockade has done much more. It has devastated Gaza’s already weak economy and destroyed most of its businesses. 85 percent now live below the poverty line. A hundred chronically sick have died in agony for want of drugs and hospital equipment spares held up at the border by the Israelis. Hundreds more face the same fate. Energy restrictions are causing grave public health problems. Children do their homework by candlelight and if the 3000 licensed fishermen put to sea their boats are fired on.

Who is going to pick up the tab for the wreckage to lives and infrastructure? EU taxpayers of course. If the Palestinians had been left alone in peace these last 60 years, with their territories intact, there would be no need for aid. Our cash in effect subsidises Israel’s greed. It is one of the prices we pay for your government’s failure to intervene.

Two-thirds of the 1.5 million Gazans are refugee families dispossessed and driven from their towns and villages. The Gaza siege is a story of courageous resistance by already impoverished and devastated people against a brutal invader and conniving western powers. Their crime? They take exception to being under unlawful and murderous occupation, they want freedom from oppression and the return of their lands, and they democratically elected a government that doesn’t happen to suit the ambitions of Israel and the US.

As one of those connivers, Mr Brown, can you explain what exactly you have against Gaza? Is it a threat to our national security? Are Gazans children of a lesser God in your eyes? What of the Christian community that is also made to suffer?

What is it that justifies such evil meddling and cowardly collective punishment?

The latest Muslim News weekly report on Israeli human rights violations says:

“During the reporting period, IOF killed 10 Palestinians, including 3 brothers and a school teacher, and an 11th one died from a previous wound in the Gaza Strip. IOF also wounded 40 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the Gaza Strip, and 2 civilians in the West Bank. 40 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 9 women and 8 children, were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the Gaza Strip and 2 others in the West Bank. IOF conducted 31 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 into the Gaza Strip.”

As I write, Israeli F-16s have just bombed a Gaza refugee camp killing 8 and wounding 60, 10 of them critically. If this sort of thing happened on Israeli territory there would be hysterical uproar.

Forced to Live Like Dogs

In the recent Parliamentary debate on Gaza your ministers dismissed democratically-elected Hamas as "a rejectionist Palestinian group” and tried to equate Gaza’s feeble home-made rocket launchings with Israel’s high-tech military onslaughts and crippling blockade. They voiced no outright condemnation of the siege.

Your foreign secretary David Miliband now speaks of a ‘moral impulse’ to promote and foster democracy especially in the Middle East. But faced with a perfectly good Palestinian democracy you and your friends couldn’t wait to tear it down.

You won’t talk to Hamas because warmongers in the White House branded them ‘terrorists’. What does that make Israel? The state of Israel was founded by terror groups like the one that blew up the King David Hotel killing 90 in a vicious attack on the British mandate government. As Norman Finkelstein remarked, “It is more than a rogue state. It is a lunatic state… The whole world is yearning for peace, and Israel is constantly yearning for war.”

The Israeli government itself is aptly described by one of your own MPs as a “gang of amoral thugs”.

Mr Brown, I leave you to mull over the words of another Christian – Gaza’s priest, Father Manuel Musallam. He told my journalist friend Mohammed Omer:

“Palestinian Christians are not a religious community set apart in some corner. We are part of the Palestinian people. Our relationship with Hamas is as people of one nation. Hamas doesn’t fight religious groups. Its fight is against the Israeli occupation.”

When asked about Western media reports that Islamic oppression was forcing Gaza’s Christians to consider emigrating, Father Manuel said that if Christians emigrate it’s because of the Israeli siege, not the Muslims. “We seek a life of freedom—a life different from the life of dogs we are currently forced to live.”

-Stu Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine. The author contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com 

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