The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, asks the question on everyone's lips - everyone that is who lives in that mysterious up-is-down, white-is-black universe parallel to our own: "Life can be cruel inside the besieged Palestinian territory, but who is responsible? " (Running the Gaza blockade, 12/6/10)
To anyone from our own universe, the answer emerges as naturally from the question as the chicken from the egg: the besiegers of the Gaza Ghetto are responsible for the misery of the besieged.
However, in that other world, one of whose portals is the Murdoch press, it's actually the other way aound: the besieged are responsible for their own misery.
Sure, there's the odd, no doubt careless, reference to our own reality in Lyons' report, as in: "Gaza doesn't have any more prostaglandin. It can't get through Israel's and Egypt's blockade of the strip of land."
Israel's and Egypt's blockade? Ah, but that's soon lost in the fog: "Some blame Israel for the siege. Some blame Hamas. Some blame Egypt. The truth is, they are probably all culpable, one way or another."
Confusing, isn't it? Thought you knew who was responsible for Gaza's crippling blockade, but now that you've entered the world according to Rupert Murdoch, you're not so sure anymore, are you? Obviously, Israel's got something to do with it, right? I mean, Egypt only jumps when USrael tells it too, so surely, surely, the main suspect in this little who done it? is Israel, no?
Wrong! Israel's really only a bit player: "Israel's blame surely must be for allowing so few medications and medical equipment into Gaza."
OK. So that's it then? The only blame attaching to Israel is for being stingy with band aids and aspirin? Correct!
Israel's certainly not to blame for ethnically cleansing southern Palestine in 1948 and swelling Gaza's population with tens of thousands of never-to-return refugees; or for invading, occupying and colonising it in 1967; or for decades of de-development and repression thereafter; or, from 2000-2005, filling its skies with deadly drones and helicopters, or turning whole swathes of its coastline into free-fire zones, or regularly bulldozing its houses, orchards and farmlands, or unleashing tanks on a defenceless, civilian population, or rocketing its unarmed demonstrators (19/5/04), or slowly closing it off from the West Bank behind walls and barriers, or launching military assaults such as operations Rainbow (2004) and Days of Penitence (2004); or, after 'disengaging' in September 2005, hermetically sealing it off by land, sea and air, or shattering its nights with sonic booms, or rocketing and shelling its defenders and civilians from the skies; or, following the January 2006 Palestinian elections, orchestrating an international boycott of its democratically-elected Hamas government, or withholding (ie stealing) its tax and customs revenues, or putting its people "on a diet" (Dov Weisglass, Olmert's advisor), or launching military operations Summer Rains (2006) and Autumn Clouds (2006), or orchestrating a failed USraeli-PA coup in June 2007, or launching military operations Hot Winter (2008) and, bloodiest and most destructive of all, Cast Lead (27 December 2008-18 January 2009).
OK, what about Hamas? "Hamas's blame must come from its prolonged period of firing of rockets into Israel, which led to the blockade almost 4 years ago."
Aha, rockets! That obviously makes Hamas a more serious suspect! Surely the blame for the siege of Gaza must lie squarely with Hamas and those Palestinians who elected it to power in January 2006, right?
Right! But only if you trust a journalist who can write, "Fatah was stunned when it lost the election of 2007..."
What might a journalist with a firmer grasp of current events, say Haaretz's Amira Hass, have to say:
"The siege of Gaza did not begin when Hamas seized control of the Strip's security organs, or when Gilad Shalit was taken captive, or when Hamas was elected in democratic elections. The siege began in 1991 - before the suicide bombings. And since then, it has only become more sophisticated, reaching its peak in 2005. The Israeli public relations machinery happily presented the disengagement as the end of the occupation, in brazen disregard of the facts. The isolation and closure were presented as military necessities. But we are big boys and girls, and we know that 'military necessities' and consistent lies serve state goals. Israel's goal was to thwart the two-state solution, which the world had expected to materialize once the Cold War ended in 1990. This was not a perfect solution, but the Palestinians were ready for it then. Gaza is not a military power that attacked its tiny, peace-loving neighbor, Israel. Gaza is a territory that Israel occupied in 1967, along with the West Bank. Its residents are part of the Palestinian people, which lost its land and its homeland in 1948. In 1993, Israel had a one-time golden opportunity to prove to the world that what people say about us is true - that it is not by nature a colonialist state. That the expulsion of a nation from its land, the expulsion of a people from their houses and the theft of Palestinian land for the sake of settling Jews are not the basis and essence of its existence. In the 1990s, Israel had a chance to prove that 1948 is not its paradigm. But it missed the opportunity. Instead, it merely perfected its techniques for robbing land and expelling people from their houses, and forced the Palestinians into isolated enclaves. And now, during these dark days, Israel is proving that 1948 never ended." (History did not begin with the Qassams, 14/1/09)
OK, assuming you're one of Amira's big boys or girls, and you found Lyons' 'In the Beginning was the Qassam...' line insufficient to explain a siege which clearly has Israeli paw prints all over it, then Lyons has lined up another culprit to divert you: the owners of Gaza's tunnels - which "Israel and Egypt" claim "are used not just for goods but to smuggle into Gaza weapons that are then used against Israel."
You see, "[t]he tunnel operators have a vested interest in maintaining the blockade; they stand to lose tens of millions of dollars should it end."
So how do these crafty devils manage to keep the blockade going? "A European official who knows Gaza as well as anyone tells me what he says is one of the great unwritten stories [In the Beginning were the Tunnel Barons... ?] about Gaza: that it is the tunnel operators firing the rockets."
Hm... You want proof? Here it is: "As news emerged last week of the 9 killed on the flotilla and international reaction called on Israel to lift the blockade, suddenly there were rockets fired from Gaza into Israel." Sounds pretty conclusive to me.
OK. To sum up. Who done it? Who is responsible for the siege of Gaza? Well, in the wonderful world of Murdoch, it's probably Hamas... or the Tunnel Barons... or maybe both, but it's definitely not Israel.
PS: Wicked! Here's Judith Rona of Bondi, NSW, taking the words right out of John Lyons' mouth in her letter to The Australian of 15/6/10: "The situation in Gaza always comes back to Hamas. Hamas sent thousands of rockets into Israel, and aided Muslim Brotherhood attacks in Egypt: hence the blockade and closure of Egypt's and Israel's borders with Gaza. Hamas prevents Gazan doctors from having direct contact with either Israel or the West Bank: hence the hold-up in the transfer of sick patients to Israeli hospitals and equipment to Gazan hospitals. Hamas continues to assassinate Fatah members and supposed collaboraters with Israel. Hamas refuses to guarantee Israel's security and thus have the embargo lifted. And it 'approves, monitors and taxes each tunnel' through which arms are smuggled and more rockets fired against Israel."