Sunday, November 18, 2012

Shooting Refugees in a Barrel

I walk between darkness & light - the night of exile & the shining memory of home.
The land I knew is given up to strangers.
There, in the sunshine, do they feel my shadow?
(Quoted in They are human too... by Per-Olow Anderson)

How nauseating the pretence, on last night's SBS and ABC news, and generally, of a balance of power and suffering between Palestinians and Israelis. And how typical the absence of the kind of contextualising information which allows such a deception to take place.

Viewers would hardly know, from the framing and presentation of this issue, that the struggle in and around the Gaza Strip is about as equal as that between a spider and a fly. Even to talk of sides lends an utterly spurious equivalence to what is really nothing more than the relentless, sadistic battering of an essentially defenceless refugee population by a psychopathic occupying power armed to the teeth. 

That's right - refugees. Probably the single most important piece of contextualising information for understanding what is really going on in Gaza today is the fact that about 1.1 million of its 1.5 million people are the descendants of refugees driven there by the Zionist ethnic cleansing of southern Palestine in 1948. So when you hear the next, carefully crafted ms media misrepresentation of Israel's current wilding in Gaza, try to keep in mind the staggering fact that Israel is yet again mercilessly savaging the very people it transformed into refugees 64 years before - people, moreover, who have been denied the right of return to their ancestral lands because these have been reserved, in Israeli apartheid legislation, 'for Jews only'.

By way of a reminder of just who the Israelis are currently mauling in Gaza, here's part of the introduction to a collection of memorable photographs taken in Gaza in 1956They are human too..: a photo-essay on the Palestine Arab Refugees. The photographer, and author of the following moving words, is the Swedish photo-journalist, Per-Olow Anderson:

"Human suffering is nothing to me. As a photo-journalist I have encountered it many times during the newspaper and magazine assignments that have taken me to 74 countries in the past 20 years. But none of my experiences was more shocking to me than my introduction to the plight of the more than 1 million Palestine Arab refugees in the Middle East, whom I first saw in April, 1956, on my arrival at Gaza on an assignment for my Swedish magazine.

"The Palestine Arab refugees exist in misery and despair in crowded camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip - in caves in Palestine, squatters' rows near large Arab cities, and the slums of the cities themselves. I have seen the squalor of their tents and and mud huts sprawled on rocky hillsides and in bone-dry, dust-blown valleys. I have felt their grief and suffering, heard their bitter memories and frustrations, and their tense and emotional cry: 'Justice, justice! All we ask is justice!'

"What is justice in their particular case, and why has it been denied them for so long?

"When the United Nations sanctioned the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, it did not intend that the Arab population of the territory given to the Jews should be expropriated, expelled or forced to flee. But this is what actually happened. Nearly a million Arabs whose ancestors had lived for countless generations in Palestine lost their lands and homes and became penniless refugees, to make way for Jewish refugees, who had themselves been forced by Nazi persecution to flee their homelands.

"The world has extended help to the Jewish refugees. Everything possible was done for them and the conscience of humanity was so stirred that it approved of their being given a Jewish state of their own. Ironically and tragically, however, the world in attempting to right an injustice to one people sowed the seeds of injustice to another. The Palestine Arabs, whom the Jewish refugees displaced, also became victims of war and terror. For them, the world set up only a relief agency, to hand out a dole and to carry out a plan for resettling them in other Arab lands, against the wishes both of themselves and of the countries to which they were to be assigned.

"Nothing has been done to answer the desire of the Palestine Arabs for repatriation to their former homes, or to compensate them for the loss of their property, or to enforce the UN-imposed boundaries that would have divided Palestine almost equally between Jew and Arab.

"I cannot see why - after 9 years - the world still has not solved this problem. I cannot understand how the world at large came to forget these people who, in terms of human suffering, are paying an agonizing price for a mistake for which all of us are responsible. For, whatever way you look at it, that is the penalty imposed on these innocent people. Their grievances are real, and their cause is just. Their homes are across the armistice lines in Israel, on land that had been Arab property for more than 1,300 years. For 9 years they have clung to their wretched footholds near the Israeli frontier in hopes that some day they may return.

"The world has done little to give them a faith in humanity. So long as it neglects to do so they will turn to any power which holds out the promise of justice. After 9 years, they will clutch at any straw."

Just remember, next time you watch the travesty that passes for news on your television sets: 64 years.


Anonymous said...

Another Israeli propaganda distortion accepted at face value and constantly repeated by the main stream media is that Hamas use their own population as human shields and are therefore responsible for civilian casualties. Compare the entire Gaza Strip 365 km/2 and 1.7 million population with the Adelaide Metropolitan Area 340 km/2and 1.2 million population. It would be impossible to find anywhere in Gaza that was not urbanised. In any case, the Israel Defence Force demonstrated during their punitive invasion of Gaza in 2009 that they have scant regard for civillian casualties by their use of multi-headed white phosphorus artillery shells, that were definitely not a precision weapon. As MERC says 'Refugees in a barrel'.

Anonymous said...

Precisely. And the Independent newspaper in the UK had the headline "Israel preparing for war". No propaganda bias there either.