Repost: This Land Called Gaza – A Love and A Curse

This post was originally written in the aftermath of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008 / 2009. As Israel threatens to once again invade the territory, its determination to incite violence and provoke reactions remains unrecognized and unreported by our media. Some important correctives can be found here, here and here. This is, as it was the first time around, for my friends in Gaza.

Location: Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza City. 2009

 

“And what projects are you working on at the moment?”

“An exhibition…and…I’m working on the completion of a new book, something very close to my heart.”

“What’s it about?”

“The Palestinians.”

There was a rather long silence…my friend looked at me with a slightly sad smile, and said “Sure, why not! But don’t you think the subject’s a bit dated? Look, I’ve taken photographs of the Palestinians too, especially in the refugee camps…its really sad! But these days, who’s interested in people who eat off the ground with their hands? And then there’s all that terrorism…I’d have thought you’d be better off using your energy and capabilities on something more worthwhile!”

Swiss photographer Jean Mohr describes a conversation with a friend.(1) Details »

Obama Is A Muslim, God Gave Us The Land, There Is A New Holocaust, Palestinians Should Convert To Judaism, The Bible Is A Land Contract

Thanks to the ‘self-hating asshole’ (as one protestor calls him) Max Blumenthal from from Feeling The Hate In New York

And in opposition, an unarmed people continue to resist with nothing but their voices, their bodies and their courage. Even the otherwise reluctant Christian Science Moniter had to confront this reality in a piece by Josh Mitnick called Borrowing From Gandhi? Palestinian Passive Resistance Gains Followers, where of course the writer refused to acknowledge that it has been predominantly non-violent resistance that the Palestinians have been engaged in for decades, and that the activities are Bilin are not the anomaly, which is what this piece makes it sound, or a revolution, but the result of a people, unarmed and abandoned, who have been engaged in such actions out of desperation. I quote from the piece:

“It’s not a war between two armies. By using non-violence, we take away the security excuse from the Israelis,” says Mohammed Khatib, a Bilin businessman active in the local popular committee organizing the weekly non-violent protest. “It shows the power of the Palestinian people, which is the right to live in this land.”

And it has always been so; not a war, but an unarmed civilian population brutally occupied by a racist and xenophobic nationalism that uses its sense of being ‘chosen’ to deny others their rights, humanity and justice. The hideousness of religious faith that contorts itself into racism, hatred and a purely venal interpretation of scriptures to justify murder and pillage is perhaps what dismays me most about Abrahamic monotheisms. The sufferings inflicted on man because of that thread of humanity that claims to have emerged from this seed is truly unbelievable to face and can perhaps remain as the one real argument against the Abrahamic idea of God – it just can’t be his/her manuscript if it can be so easily bloodied!

Choose yours sides. Its about to become clearer than it has ever been before. Israel’s reality, a reality that has for decades been veiled behind euphemisms and outright lies (‘the middle east’s only democracy’, ‘peace loving’, etc. etc.) is thankfully now coming out in full light. It is about to get even uglier as the nation completely looses its mooring, trips over itself in these days of increasingly moral isolation, and lashes out more and more violently against a Palestinian generation (young and old) that is finding its voice, articulating its arguments, and refusing to bend to the jack boots of the occupiers.

On a side not, the Christian Science monitor article carried a small slide show of images, and this one caught my eye:

In Yeruham, 9 foot-high concrete blocks sit at a concrete factory in March. The blocks will be used in the construction of Israel’s separation barrier. Photo by Oded Balilty/AP/FILE

And it looked very family, very similar to something I had seen earlier. And then it came to me…..

Berlin Holocaust Museum. Photo By Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum

All these memorials to a self-righteous, exclusive morality and sense of outrage. The lessons of the holocaust are not to be universally understood, but cheaply exploited to browbeat those who speak out against the policies of Israel and her treatment of the hapless Palestinians. A genuinely European hypocrisy indeed, mired deep in the trenches of her ‘Enlightenment’ thinking.

As for example, Renan a man frequently celebrated as representing the ‘progressive’ spirit of Europe, and who could still in fact hold ideas such as:

The regeneration of the inferior or degenerate races by the superior races is part of the providential order of things for humanity…Regere imperio populos, that is our vocation. Pour forth this all-consuming activity onto countries which, like China, are crying aloud for foreign conquest. Turn the adventurers who disturb European society into a ver sacrum, a horde like those of the Franks, the Lombards, or the Normans, and every man will be in his right role. Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor; govern them with justice, levying from them, in return for the blessing of such a government, an ample allowance for the conquering race, and they will be satisfied; a race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race…Let each do what he is made for, and all will be well.

Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism, page 16 (emphasis are Cesaire’s)

I think back to Fanon’s call to stop looking for this Europe that speaks repeatedly of humanity, and yet inflicts such horrors upon it. On the streets of Manhattan, in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and in the land that was once imagined as a new homeland for a persecuted people with justice and rights for all, we are witnessing the complete and absolute degradation and desecration of all that our modern world holds as moral and human. And it ties it threads to European colonial attitudes, prejudices and arrogance.

The Palestinians will prevail. There is no other place for this to end.

We only then have to remember that anything that takes billions of dollars of aid, millions of dollars spent on propaganda, thousands of soldiers, and tanks, and F-16s and miles of concrete walls and tens of thousands of voices to scream and shout at others, can’t be very strong.

I know for a fact that these demonstrations in New York repulse and dismay many, including the Jews. Israel is destroying not only itself, but the dream of the very nation that it could once have been. Her people have ignored her finest voices, from Yeshayahu Leibowitz to Deutscher, or Judt to Pappe who repeatedly warned her of the consequences of her policies and greed.

Deaf ears.

For Those Still Wondering What The H*ll Is Going On….

Thanks to PULSE

The Goldstone Report Facts Page Breaks It Down

Interestingly A War Crime In Any Language Remains A War Crime & The Dead In Any Language Remain Dead

From PULSE media.

Losing Our Moral Compass Or When Genocide Becomes A Necessity And Can Be Explained

We have often wondered what led so many Germans to just sat by or appeared to ‘collaborate’ during the Jewish genocide, or the Rwandans to engage in mass slaughter of each other, or the Serbians to look away as Sarajevo burned, or the Pakistanis to celebrate the slaughter of the Bengali. And many more such situations that leave so many ‘civilized’ and ‘decent’ people asking themselves that old question: how can a people do this to another? Details »

Who Was That Strange Man I Met In Gaza And Why Was He Drawing Cartoons As People Died?

It is a world that I have lost touch with, but while I was in it, however marginally, it was filled with an incredible array of intelligent, passionate, engaged and generous people. Post-war Sarajevo bought me in touch with writer Stacy Sullivan, photographer Paul Lowe, photographer and editor Leslie Fratkin and last and definitely not the least, the graphic artist Joe Sacco. Details »

Voices Of Dissent In Times Of Consent: Anna Baltzar, Omar Barghouti And The Struggle For Justice

This is an American voice, and perhaps much needed. We are at a crucial turning point in the world opinion and understanding of the situation a.k.a. the occupation of West Bank and Gaza, and voices of people like Anna Baltzer are an essential complement to the decades of civic, intellectual, social and yes, occasionally, violent resistance and struggle by the Palestinians trapped inside Israel’s dreams and fantasies. Details »

Offering Silence To The Oppressed Or How Photography Can Become A Weapon Of Repression

An exhibition called ‘Beware The Cost Of War’ recently opened in London.

Reading about it in the New York Times ‘Lens’ blog left me deeply disappointed and concerned.

Let me explain.

(Aside: Yoav Galai, the curator, is someone I have called a friend for some time now and I hope that he will forgive me for this very critical review of what is something he clearly put a lot of work in to. It is not personal, but merely a reflection on this propensity in our world to fear speaking, to raise a voice, to add details and specifics where generalizations only confuse, perpetuate injustices and acquit the guilty. I am sorry Yoav. I must say my piece.) Details »

Where The Head Spun: Sunday, 12th July 2009

This week has been busy with some writings on The Idea of India photo project, but I did manage to come across some fascinating stuff:

Ikea Is As Bad A Wal-Mart; A piece in Salon magazine that reviews Ellen Ruppel Shell’s book Cheap.

Yes, it is our consumer habits that are driving these climate changes – the degradation of the soil, the cutting of forests, the polluting of the oceans, the exploitation of human labor in china and mexico, to name just two places, is all for the sake of our cheap consumer goods.  We may prefer to avoid this fact by trying to simply shop ‘green’, but shopping, and repeateded, frequent cycles of shopping are in fact why the problems are emerging. Details »