Getting it Wrong in Gaza Pt. 2: Pirates of the Gaza Strip

Posted on June 27, 2007

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Newsweek graces its cover this week with a not-so-nice looking Hamas rep; masked, gun held high, posing like a pirate upon a tank of unknown origin. This stuff sells, of course, as many Americans enjoy being scared by “Islamofascism” in the same way that they like the thrill of roller coaster rides. But, much like the truth hidden by the steep drops and corkscrews, the danger is largely a construct.

Lets start with the tank. Though the Israeli military redeployed out of Gaza, leaving it surrounded and landlocked–but without internal occupation–Gaza is not a state, not even after the Hamas coup. Gaza does not have tanks because Israel never allowed the Palestinian Authority to have tanks, nor did it allow it to have surface to air weapons, or basically anything that could hurt Israel when Israel comes over with its own tanks. The question remains. Where did this tank come from?

If that were the only question, however, one could excuse the hyperbole of this slim periodical. But it isn’t; “Back to the Stone Age”, an article accompanying the mag’s coverage of the Gaza events, does some pretty incredible acrobatics to avoid contextualizing the reality in which Palestine’s so called democracy must function. I’m not up on the numbers, but i think that the article’s claim that thousands of Gazans have left in the past months more than credible. Millions of Palestininans, in fact, have left the West Bank and Gaza for the last 40 years. Don’t let it get around, but living under military occupation kind of sucks.

Interestingly, among the many destinations listed in the article for the Gazans who can afford to leave–Norway, Amman, Canada–the West Bank does not appear. Why, you may ask? Because Israel does not allow Gazans to travel to the West Bank. One could start asking many questions here, like: if that’s true, then how can so many people refer to Gaza as being liberated; or, how did candidates for President who lacked funds and support abroad, campaign in both the West Bank and Gaza? You might also wonder, kind of in a basic way, if all this–a military occupation that prevents you from seeing family, working, leaving the country, etc.–was violating your human rights. Could you even call it oppression? And if Israel prevents Gazans from going to the West Bank, and West Bankers from leaving the West Bank, then how the hell can this be called a democracy? This might lead you to all kinds of other questions such as, to start with, why the hell is our country supporting Israel as they continue to screw over the most screwed over place on earth.

Go ahead and ask, but don’t expect to find your answers in Newsweek.