14-06-06 11:00:00, Palestine: A war on children 15 June 2006
In a cover piece for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes how the US and Israel have finally resolved the problem of the Palestinians, who voted for the “wrong” government. They are to starve them while missiles are fired at their homes and picnickers on a beach.
Arthur Miller wrote, “Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.”
Miller’s truth was a glimpsed reality on television on 9 June when Israeli warships fired on families picnicking on a Gaza beach, killing seven people, including three children and three generations. What that represents is a final solution, agreed by the United States and Israel, to the problem of the Palestinians. While the Israelis fire missiles at Palestinian picnickers and homes in Gaza and the West Bank, the two governments are to starve them. The victims will be mostly children.
This was approved on 23 May by the US House of Representatives, which voted 361-37 to cut off aid to non-government organisations that run a lifeline to occupied Palestine. Israel is withholding Palestinian revenues and tax receipts amounting to $60m a month. Such collective punishment, identified as a crime against humanity in the Geneva Conventions, evokes the Nazis’ strangulation of the Warsaw ghetto and the American economic siege of Iraq in the 1990s. If the perpetrators have lost their minds, as Miller suggested, they appear to understand their barbarism and display their cynicism. “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet,” joked Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert.
This is the price Palestinians must pay for their democratic elections in January. The majority voted for the “wrong” party, Hamas, which the US and Israel, with their inimitable penchant for pot-calling-the-kettle-black, describe as terrorist. However, terrorism is not the reason for starving the Palestinians, whose prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, had reaffirmed Hamas’s commitment to recognise the Jewish state, proposing only that Israel obey international law and respect the borders of 1967. Israel has refused because, with its apartheid wall under construction, its intention is clear: to take over more and more of Palestine, encircling whole villages and eventually Jerusalem.
The reason Israel fears Hamas is that Hamas is unlikely to be a trusted collaborator in subjugating its own people on Israel’s behalf. Indeed, the vote for Hamas was actually a vote for peace. Palestinians were fed up with the failures and corruption of the Arafat era. According to the former US president Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Centre verified the Hamas electoral victory, “public opinion polls show that 80 per cent of Palestinians want a peace agreement with Israel”.
How ironic this is, considering that the rise of Hamas was due in no small part to the secret support it received from Israel, which, with the US and Britain, wanted Islamists to undermine secular Arabism and its “moderate” dreams of freedom. Hamas refused to play this Machiavellian game and in the face of Israeli assaults maintained a ceasefire for 18 months. The objective of the Israeli attack on the beach at Gaza was clearly to sabotage the ceasefire. This is a time-honoured tactic.
Now, state terror in the form of a medieval siege is to be applied to the most vulnerable.