Gaza needs to learn a lesson

Gaza’s self-perpetuating misery

Barbara Kay, National Post,  January 6, 2011

Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper has cited three cables, amongst the 250,000 WikiLeaks U.S. cables the newspaper has in its possession, that show Israel kept the U.S. informed in 2008 of its intentions and strategies during the strictly observed three-year blockade of Gaza, now significantly eased.

Apparently it is “news” that in a November, 2, 2008 cable, Israel told the U.S. it wanted Gaza’s economy “functioning at the lowest level consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

There should be nothing controversial or newsworthy in that statement. All it tells us is that Israel treats dangerous, sworn enemies on its borders with a lot more compassion than other countries would in the same circumstances. Of course Israel wants Gaza to suffer, as well Gaza should suffer.

The full 2007 blockade came about for a good reason. Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist; its militants have fired thousands of rockets inside Israeli territory, wounding and even killing Israeli citizens and demoralizing the country; Hamas refuses to return soldier Gilad Shalit, abducted from an Israeli border post in 2006. Most important, Hamas has given the world no assurances whatsoever that their ambition to drive every Israeli into the sea has abated.

In keeping Gaza “on the brink of collapse,” a phrase also cited in the leaks, Israel was acting in its own self-interest, as any normal state would and should. What Israel did for three years on Gaza’s borders is precisely what U.S. and EU sanctions aim to do with Iran in order to make them back down from nuclear weaponization: starve the economy without actually starving people. Rational  people tend to get a message when their economy is suffocating, and surely economic pressures are preferable to bombs.

In fact this “news” should redound to Israel’s credit. Clearly it is well within Israel’s power to cause a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Contrary to international accusations, this it refuses to do, and never wanted to do. The cable backs up that claim. So much for the Israel-haters’ frequent, favourite comparison of Israel with Nazi Germany.

Gazans who whine that they live in a “prison” hold the keys to their own freedom and prosperity, but seem to prefer economic privation and complaining to responsible representation and prosperity. If Gazans want prosperity and dignified communal life, let them look to their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank who without fanfare have conceded that Israel is not going anywhere, that  co-existence is possible, and furthermore, peaceful co-existence is good for their economy and collective well-being. Until Gazans are prepared to choose leaders who will break bread with their neighbours, let them eat crumbs.

National Post

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