WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) Jan. 25, 2008 -The are two images, often juxtaposed, that define life for the people of Gaza in the eyes of world media.
One image is the picture of idle workers, hungry kids, and hospitals that are broken and dysfunctional as a result of the embargo of fuel and electricity that persistently cripples the economy of Gaza.
The other, more recent image, pictures thousands of gleeful Gazans streaming into Rafa, Egypt across the southern border between Egypt and Gaza, buying everything from goats to televisions, and taking them back to into Gaza using every conceivable mode of human transportation. These images convey a sense of jubilation, and relief.
Indeed, much of the world is happy that the Egyptian authorities are reluctant to use force in turning away the people of Gaza - sending them back to where they came from.
But the political dynamics of the situation are more complicated. Israeli authorities are now openly discussing the possibility of a total cut-off of Gaza in the north, which would, in effect, abandon some 1.4 million people and leave them in a state of total economic collapse with only a three-day supply of fuel for their primary electrical power plant.
And the United States government, which voiced it's disapproval of the Egyptian non-response to the "invasion" of thousands of desperate people from Gaza, has said nothing - at least, in public - about Israel's central responsibility for the embargo.
The world sees this mess, and focuses on the ideological issues of the political rule of Hamas "militants" and the sporadic rocket fire from Gaza that provokes so many devastating Israeli military counter-strikes.
The presidential candidates, from both major parties, see what is happening, and say absolutely nothing about the policies of Israel and the United States that keep Gaza on nearly permanent lock-down (except to blaming Hamas for the entire situation).
While these events occur, and while they are being noticed by the entire world, the misery and humanitarian tragedy in Gaza continues.
If all politics are local, as the saying goes, then all politics, in the final analysis, must be about the simple dignity and human rights of ordinary people, and their right to survive.
Survival, with dignity, must become the ultimate human right that trumps divisions over race, nationality, and religion. And this is a priority that the leaders of Israel, the U.S., and especially the political leaders of Gaza, must not fail to recognize.
The political and ideological divisions are not likely to go away, at least in the foreseeable future, but the ordinary people of Gaza won؟t disappear either, and every concerned party - all of humanity - must make their survival a central priority.
I've pointed out, in a previous essay, that a tactical shift on the part of the political leadership of Gaza is imperative. Violent attacks from Gaza against civilian targets in Israel are both immoral and tactically useless, and they only provoke counter-attacks that heap more devastation and destruction on the heads of those who are already defenseless and vulnerable.
Those attacks must end.
But Egypt, the United States, the State of Israel, and the global community must also fundamentally change their ways.
Egypt, to begin with, must allow a reasonable flow of Palestinians into Egyptian territory to purchase necessary commodities for their basic survival.
Israel must suspend the closure of the border crossing between Gaza and Israel, and totally end any current and future embargoes of food, fuel, and medical supplies into the territory.
The international community of nations and civil societies must contribute more material aid to Gaza, and be assured that this aid will reach those in need, without interference, interdiction, or the misuse of such aid by any and all agents of corruption.
And the United States, as the major power-broker in the conflict, has the responsibility to push for the demilitarization of the conflict (on all sides), while upholding the human rights of all parties concerned. This a particular challenge for Muslim leaders who use the occupation as a rationale for hurling rhetorical rocks at the Jewish state, while doing precious little to alleviate the suffering of the actual victims of occupation.
Also, for the Israelis and their allies, there should be recognition that the notion of collective punishment, in any case, is simply morally unconscionable, as well as a violation of international human rights law and the Geneva Convention.
Striking civilian infrastructure targets to hit back at Hamas is counter-productive, because this strategy only pushes people to more desperate, and violent, forms of "resistance".
In fact, no party in this convoluted political equation can be let off the hook. Each party must develop new means of resolving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and for that matter, the whole of Palestine.
We must demand the following: No more killing. No more bickering, posturing, or in the case of media, outright denial of the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. No more denial of this tragedy by those who aspire to the American presidency. And no more blind political allegiances based on the permanence of colonial occupation or injustice.
Because for me, at the end of the day, what really matters is that no more children in Gaza will die for the sake of political business as usual.
Copyright © 2008, Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey. Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved. Blog content administered and edited by Aishah Schwartz.
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