A private response to my government's actions regarding civilians in Gaza
The Israeli government seemingly assumes that by punishing the civilian population of Gaza it can put pressure on Hamas to cease sending qassams and firing mortars into Israel. The idea was flawed from the beginning; the reaction of Hamas to the blockade over the years has shown that it will allow Gazans to suffer terribly rather than depart from its intentions.
The Israeli government, in its turn, cares even less about the citizens of Gaza than does Hamas.
Many Israeli civilians feel shamed and guilty regarding the deaths of innocents in Gaza and the misery caused by the blockade. But there are stringent limitations on personal contact between Israelis and citizens of Gaza; communications are monitored, mail and parcels are blocked altogether. Some method of allowing wider communications between private citizens must be sought.
I propose a sustained "March to Gaza" of Israeli citizens carrying items in short supply in Gaza. The march made not in a spirit of charity or handouts, but in appreciation that by extension, we are all responsible for the actions, sins and delusions of our government.
The initial "March"
In order to lessen the chances that the Israeli authorities will confiscate the articles carried to the entry points, or abuse those carrying the items, the following ideas may be useful:
1) The initial groups should be composed of retirees, grandparents bringing gifts for the children of Gaza the ages of their own grandchildren. The advantages of this idea is that it may be expected that young soldiers will be a bit more respectful, or at least less inclined to hurt people the age of their own grandparents. If, none the-less the marchers are detained for a few hours, more or less, the fact that they are retired will cause them fewer difficulties than those who have young children and/or who are employed.
2) I suggest that the first march be of grandparents carrying toys for the children of Gaza will make it more difficult for the government or the IDF to claim that the items may be dangerous or “aid the enemy”. I am told that the BBC will film the March. The presence of TV cameras will inhibit the IDF; I suggest that it will not wish to make itself look foolish, petty, and churlish on international news programs by denying entry to toys.
3) The most convenient entry to Gaza from Israel is the border crossing at the Erez. It may be reached by following Highway 4 to its end. The distances to the Erez crossing point from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai or Moshav Nativ HaAsera are well within walking distance for healthy retirees and both are served by public transportation or easily reached by private meansI suggest that the initial marches be funded by those making the march. Toys are within the economic capabilities of most people and I think it important that the acceptance of personal responsibility of private Israelis for the condition in Gaza should be emphasized.
Obviously, a onetime event will not achieve anything useful. Depending on the number of volunteers, a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly march should be the desired goal. If a number of marches are successful, that is, if they succeed in moving the items from one side of the border to the other, then it may be possible to acquire financial aid in order to purchase items of greater need to the population of Gaza.
It will be necessary to avoid becoming involved with either the black Market in Gaza, or the Hamas authority. In either case, the Israeli government or others would be provided with an excuse to refuse entry into Gaza of no matter what items the marchers were carrying. If UNRWA would accept the gifts and assume responsibility for their distribution, the problem of being involved with the black market or Hamas could be solved. Unfortunately, the involvement of a United Nations organization in a political act might prove embarrassing for the U.N. . I do not know how this potential problem may be resolved, but I trust that there are legal ways and means open known to others closer to the daily problems experienced by the citizens of Gaza.
Book a place on the good steamer Peace in spite of all the odds.
(Those who suffer from sea sickness need not apply).
by Arieh Zimmerman on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 12:00pm
DISMANTLING THE BLOCKADE
I intend to keep posting this to FB. It is an idea that will not only play well in the media, but, more importantly may appeal to other Israelis searching for a non-violent method to apply grass root pressure to Bibi and his attack dogs.
I propose a daily ship traveling from Haifa, Tel Aviv then Ashdod and docking at Gaza. Prices for the voyage set low enough to allow most Israelis to sail, and high enough to pay for the voyage with an amount reserved for the purchase of articles in short supply in Gaza. The items will be distributed by UNRWA and thus avoid the black market. Wealthy and just plain benevolent benefactors wishing to support the idea will be welcomed.
Galina Reznik One of my friends suggest Hamas will capture the passengers as bait to get their own prisoners out of jail, what’s your thought on that? That is what she is worried about with the Jewish boat Irene heading their now..I don’t think I agree with her, but I don’t know enough.
Tuesday at 12:14pm · Like
Arieh Zimmerman Certainly the first few boats will be boarded by the IDF, if at the same time Hamas will attempt to capture the vessel, or those on it, the plan will not quite be what I have envisioned. And that, for a crass American Jewish Israeli, is a neat bit of British understatement.
Tuesday at 12:19pm · Like
Harvey Stein VERY interesting idea, Arieh. You could use a great publicist, and trainers in non-violence. Projects like this are essential to keeping us peace activists in the world and not just on our blogs! Keep me posted...I'm a video journalist/filmmaker and I could do a short news item on this project.
Arieh Zimmerman Harvey, If you know of any publicists or trainers who would contribute pro-bono, (certainly so in the beginning), can you contact them?
Tuesday at 12:30pm · Like · 1 person Harvey Stein Seriously, I think we should find an NGO here (in Israel) to sponsor the project. Write up a 1-page proposal and send it to me, and I"ll circulate it as best I can.
I have lost the name of a friend who suggested that we use border crossing at Erez; either method or both should be attempted or any other that allows for a possibility of success.
Free speech vs. anti-immigration hatred expressed freely...Liberals in a bind. My take is: speech is, and must be free, but free advertizing which sparks hatred should be priced out of the market.
Mona, thank you for up-loading the article.
I will admit that I have a problem with this subject, but it begins at home. It seems to me that the ultra orthodox Jews in Israel create a home grown problem for the the larger society. A great many of the men do not engage in income producing labor and are are financial burden on the rest of society; they produce extremely large families but not the wherewithal to care for them. The education of their many children is not such as to however slowly integrate their children or their children's children into the larger society. But that, for me is not the worst of it; they, (the blasted ever present "they"), vote en block according to their rabbi's instructions, always right-wing and thusly anti-peace.
While there is no perfect parallel between the problems created by Israel's ultra-religious and the Muslim population of Germany, as noted in the article you uploaded, the parallel to the degree that it exists is, again for me, not Muslims per se, and the larger German culture, (spelled kultur I suppose), but between the non-religious, or much less religious German majority and the much more religious immigrant population.
That is to say that while I am not anti-Islam any more than I am anti-Jewish, I am anti-Religion rather than anti-religious.
Seen this way, what I am calling the problem is a good deal more complex than simple and obnoxious racial hatred.
In the United States, specifically in New York, the ultra-orthodox Jews have successfully integrated with the larger population without assimilation, but they present a much smaller percent of the population the the immigrants in Germany and in Europe as a whole.
As a liberal, as an ultra-liberal, I see no clear resolution of the "problem", neither intellectually, nor emotionally.
But I would very much like to hear from those who have successfully found a solution where I have found none. As I stated in the beginning, it is a very uncomfortable position for a liberal.
Mona Eltahawy, Iwrote:
"Arieh - thank you. You present a fascinating parallel to consider. I too am a liberal who hates the calls for censorship or silencing of those abhorrent views of the right wing because I know here in the U.S. at least their rights stem from the same Constitution that gives the Park51 people the right to build their community centre and mosque there.
I know that not everybody who opposes Park51 is a bigot but I also know that many who do are using the cover of 9/11 sensitivities.
Same with immigration debate - I know there are many good people, within and without the immigrant and the Muslim community who want to have a serious discussion about what the community itself has or hasn't done to help its integration and what the State has or hasn't done to help. But they remain silent because they don't want to associated with right wing, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, etc. political opportunists.Why did it take this Sarrazin person to write a book that started a debate Germany needed to have? And why is the book so antagonistic? Where are the good liberal, left wing think tanks and writers and why have they ignored these issues? We could go on..."
Reality rules. When emotions boil over and blame is the focus of attention, nothing good can be accomplished for, or by either side.
What is the reality? Jews now occupy a certain portion of the land of Israel/Palestine; allow me to divide that land according to a usage which might be useful for diplomatic efforts toward a true and equitable peace.
1) Land allotted to Israel by the U.N. in1947.
2) Land within the 1967 armistice lines.
3) Land currently occupied by the Hill Top settlers.
Palestinians currently occupy land as follows:
2) That part of the West Bank not currently colonized by Israeli settlers.
3) The more than 4.5 million Palestinian refugees scattered, like the Jews of not all that long ago, over the entire world. (note: Bedouin in Israel currently occupy lands not yet taken from them by a government ignorant of cause and effect).
The reality is that the Israelis are by far the stronger economically and militarily; they will not be moved from within the 1967 borders.
The reality is that the forefathers of the Arab population began to occupy the land some short time after the Jews were sent packing by the Romans, something close to 50 generations. They will not be moved farther from their ancient lands , not even by the most virulent of Zionist fanatics.
The current division of Palestinian land is a result of an Israeli land grab accomplished after the 1967 war. That land is the most fertile on the West Bank; the land and homes sites of the Palestinians are stolen property. One cannot imagine any Nation agreeing to theft of that nature; if Israel truly values peace over land, Israel must return that land.
One of the greatest problems facing Peace Makers is hardly ever discussed is to what degree are the West and the Arabian oil rich sheikdoms willing to bear the cost of:
1) Moving the Israeli settlers off Palestinian land to housing in Israel proper?
2) What will be the cost of moving the Palestinian refugees from the camps to a normal life, including decent housing, the possibility of work according to their education and talents, and a society and culture of their choosing?
It is obvious that even together; the sums of money necessary are beyond the capacity of Israel and Palestine.
The reality is regardless of how in the end the land is divided, regardless if a one state or a two state solution is the final result, there must be agreement on several questions, or any eventual peaceful solution will not will not be ‘final’ for any reasonable length of time.
The land is dry, the summers are apparently becoming hotter and the water available for agriculture is increasingly limited. Even today, potable water for domestic use in Gaza is in seriously short supply.
In order for Palestine to become even partially independent of the Israeli economy, heavy investment must be made in the basic infrastructure, in services, in housing, and in all the basic amenities which normal people may expect in the modern world.
So many unaddressed questions remain to be asked, so many answers need to be satisfied before any real progress can be made, that the continual childish rants and raves made daily, even at the level of Facebook, serve only to unnecessarily lengthen the time of the hurt and deprivation of too many Palestinian citizens.
The Blame Game is a cop-out. What actions, based on an objective analysis of the situation on the ground, should be attempted. Emotional reactions to the stupid actions and reactions made by either side may be understandable, but they do not accomplish anything.
What it comes to in the end is that we are all individually responsible for our actions, or if inactive, we are responsible for that as well.
The advancement of humanity in and for the human race is slow, excruciatingly slow, But we do advance…Slavery was largely understood to be "natural", until what, say 12 generations ago?
All the drives that caused men to slaughter one another, to dominate and subjugate women, to hate the "other", still exist. But more and more those drives are being subjected to cultural control; patriarchal societies like the Germany of old, Victorian England, pre-war Japan, and some present day Islamic countries are no longer the norm.
So, since we are responsible for our actions, we can choose sides. We can, if we are capable of it, choose to refuse to serve beyond the Green Line; we can choose to follow our own personal sense of ethics rather than rally round the flag hanging limply from the masochistic pole of nationalism. We can evidently choose, if we are women of conscience, to gather up Palestinian kids and give them the treat of a day by the sea. We can choose to leave the computer and demonstrate at Sheikh Jarrah.
For the moment, in my opinion, what we can do most importantly, is to try to revive the peace movement and what the Left once stood for. There are thousands of people doing just that, Israelis and, if you are ignorant of it, Google it!, Palestinians as well. Without a strong party of the Left the Bibi/Avigdor Axis will continue to control the State and drive the public towards even greater paranoia.
It doesn't matter on the personal level whether it is only a dream of a tired old liberal, on the personal level it really doesn't matter at all if in the end we fail. Realpolitik aside, only I am responsible for my actions, or inaction, and so are you friend.
As a rule I am against boycotts, BDS and the like, whether of Iran, Israel, Turkey or any other Nation is of no matter.
I think that if collective guilt cannot be shown, then collective punishment is not justifiable; it never seems to hurt the people who have earned the anger of the boycotters but only the innocent around them; collateral damage I believe it is called. On the other hand, the proposed Palestinian BDS of Jewish West Bank industry and produce is clearly aimed at the settlers whose theft of Palestinian land has earned them this absolutely appropriate response.
As for our Knesset legislating against individuals who propose actions against our homeland because they hold our government responsible for its stupidity and power mad application of force many times what is necessary, it is no more than any of us should expect from the worst government, minus the judiciary, since Saul tried to have David murdered. The application of BDS involves a ethical difference of opinion regarding punishing the innocent with the guilty; I do not agree with its application, but I can understand the frustration of Israelis, (and others), when faced with the moral blindness of most Knesset Members in regard to human rights of the Palestinian peoples. The thought of our politicians punishing anybody for bringing our nation into disrepute is farcical to the point of tears.