Friday, September 11, 2009

Gaza's Ellie Lintons

Watched ABC Television's Q & A last night. At one point, John Marsden, "Australia's favourite teen lit author" (according to Q & A's website), was discussing his novel Tomorrow, When the War Began, in which a band of Australian teenagers, led by heroine Ellie Linton, take on an unnamed invading force: "I wrote the book," explained Marsden, "to show that today's teenagers are not unemployable, illiterate, drunken, drug-taking layabouts but are in fact capable of great things - of nobility, of heroism, and intelligence."

When fellow panellist, Sophie Mirabella, Shadow Minister for Early Education, Women & Youth, was asked by compere Tony Jones what she thought of Ellie as "a role model for Australian girls," the polliewaffle responded: "I think it's great. Having a strong, athletic girl engaging in guerilla warfare to defend her nation, it's great stuff." And who could possibly disagree with her?

Except that Sophie has an entirely different perspective when it comes to young men and women in certain other countries engaging in guerilla warfare to defend their nation. In fact, she calls them terrorists.

She did exactly that in a speech in the House of Representatives on 17/9/07 when she spoke of "Palestinian terrorists infiltrat[ing] Israel's sovereign border from the Gaza Strip on 25 June 2006, attack[ing] an army post inside Israel's sovereign territory and kidnapp[ing] Corporal Gilad Shalit into Gaza." Conversely, she described Shalit and his fellow troops in glowing terms: "These young men - husbands, students, cherished members of a family, with their lives ahead of them - were merely serving their active duty within Israel's borders and have now been denied their basic human rights." And she went on to call on the Australian government to "exert pressure on the terrorist organisations involved in the abduction" for Shalit's release.

You see, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, this otherwise enthusiastic defender of those who engage in guerilla warfare to defend their nation against an invading and occupying force not only sides with the latter but is even prepared to use her position and status as a federal MP to spruik on its behalf.

Of course, this incredible volte-face on behalf of an invading and occupying power can only be achieved by ignoring the history and underlying dynamics of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. The moment the Zionist settler movement, aided and abetted by British imperialism, gained a toehold in Palestine, the indigenous population was on notice. The aim of the Zionist movement - the creation of a Jewish state, run by Jews for Jews, controling as much of Palestine as could be acquired by hook or by crook - presented the locals with the starkest of choices: defend your country from the invader or allow him to usurp your patrimony. In the words of Canadian philosopher Michael Neumann, "[t]he Palestinians faced an immediate, concrete mortal threat: the Zionists were there, among them, growing stronger daily, inviting them to submit to Jewish sovereignty or depart. Moreover, they had good reason to believe that the Zionists wanted to dispossess them entirely, over the whole of Palestine." (The Case Against Israel, 2005, p 86)

The proverbial crunch, of course, came with a vengeance in 1948, when the ancestors of those Palestinians now engaging in guerilla warfare in the Gaza Strip were ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages in southern Palestine (what Sophie lawyerly describes as "Israel's sovereign territory") and forced to flee in the direction of Gaza as the Zionist invaders occupied their homes and lands and barred forever their return. And it is their children, and their children's children, the Ellie Lintons of Gaza, who have been engaging in guerilla warfare ever since, resisting, from their tiny pocket of Palestine, the periodic assaults of the same invader and occupier, and keeping alive the belief that one day they'll return to their homes and lands in usurped Palestine.

Fast forward to the more recent past: Sharon pulled Israeli troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, the better to colonize the West Bank (whilst retaining control of its entry/exit points, and its airspace and territorial waters). The Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank went on, in January 2006, to democratically elect the Palestinian party most committed to guerilla warfare and the defence of their nation. Despite the new Hamas government extending the unilateral truce it had declared 10 months earlier, the Bush government, angered that the Palestinian people hadn't voted for the party of surrender and collaboration instead, insisted that Hamas recognise the invader/occupier, give up guerilla warfare in defence of their nation (or, to use their own words, 'renounce violence') and disarm - that is if it wanted the Bushies to recognise it, talk to it and feed it some peanuts.

Meanwhile, Mahmud Abbas, the leader of the party that had dutifully done those very things, did his level best to undermine the new government, while the US, Israel, and the EU (all historical and present practitioners of invasion/occupation) slapped economic sanctions on Gaza to punish its Ellie Lintons for daring to vote for Hamas.

Seeing these measures only hardened the resolve of Gaza's people and their government to resist, the invading/occupying power set out to do the job itself:-

On 9/6/06, Jamal Abu Samhadana, the Hamas Interior Ministry head, was murdered in an Israeli air strike. On the same day, Israeli shells wiped out all but one of the Ghalia family who had been picnicking on a Gaza beach. Naturally, Hamas called off its 16 month truce. Then, on 24/6/06, Israeli troops raided Gaza and kidnapped 2 brothers (Mustafa and Osama Muammar) after beating their father to a pulp. This prompted a joint raid by guerillas of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees on Shalit's army post, in which, besides his capture, 2 Israeli soldiers were killed and 4 wounded. When Hamas demanded the release of Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons in exchange for Shalit, the Israelis responded by rounding up and detaining Hamas officials in the West Bank, including ministers and legislators, shelling Gaza's borders, and bombing government buildings, bridges, roads, power plants and other infrastructure throughout the Strip.

The dispossessed Palestinian 'terrorists' who'd captured Shalit, indeed whole generations of Palestinians, would surely have no trouble whatever in relating to the thoughts of Marsden's heroine, Ellie Linton: "Overnight they'd pulled the roof off our lives. And after they'd pulled off the roof, they'd come in and torn down the curtains, ripped up the furniture, burnt the house and thrown us into the night, where we'd been forced to run and hide and live like wild animals. We had no foundations, and we had no secure walls around our lives any more. We were living in a strange, long nightmare, where we had to make our own rules, invent new values, stumble around blindly, hoping we weren't making too many mistakes. We clung to what we knew and what we thought was right, but all the time those things too were being stripped from us."


nina said...

I remember this photo I saw in Sabbah's blog. It said : "YOU take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bomb my country, starve us all, humiliate us all....BUT....I am to blame: I shot a rocket back."

Define a terrorist.

MERC said...

Precisely, nina. And you might be interested to know that the Australian government has just re-affirmed the listing of Hamas'Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations under Australian counterterrorism law after receiving information that they are "either directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting or fostering terrorist acts." Maybe someone should dob in Ellie Linton?