When a people, especially mothers cry out, “it is better they kills us all”, you know they have reached the end of their tether. When a people fight a war of liberation, they know that if they survive the day of battle, they can always return to their bases, sing a few songs in honour of the dead and to defy the enemy sing a few further songs on their resolve; “freedom is coming tomorrow!” In the midst of the horrors of war, their lives have meaning because there are moments to pause and reflect on victories won, battles lost and plans to be made.
The people of Gaza have no such luck because they know no relief at all. They do not retreat back to their bases to plan new and better methods to take on the occupying state that is Israel. They instead, emerge out of hiding back in to the open air prison that is Gaza.
For the avoidance of doubt, let’s first state clearly. Israel is an occupying force in Palestine and more than 130 United Nations resolutions attest to this. This is an element of fact and not emotion. It is universally agreed that Israel must return to the internationally agreed 1967 borders to allow Palestinians a state of their own and a life with meaning.
Instead, Israel has steadily built new settlements on occupied land in defiance of the United Nations and the entire globe, with the possible exception of the US for reasons that only the Americans can fully explain. The express, not tacit, support of the world’s sole super power has reduced an entire population of people to the deepest humiliation of mankind since World War 11 and before that since slavery.
Towards the end of his life, Le Tolstoy reflected on the meaning of life. “Had I simply understood that life had no meaning I could have borne it quietly, knowing that that was my lot. But I could not satisfy myself with that. Had I been like a man living in a wood from which he knows there is no exit, I could have lived; but I was like one lost in a wood who, horrified at having lost his way, rushes about wishing to find the road. He knows that each step he takes confuses him more and more, but still he cannot help rushing about. It was indeed terrible. And to rid myself of the terror I wished to kill myself.”
This is what Gazans are feeling right now and that is why they say it is better Israel kills them all for who can endure what they are going through?
Tolstoy continues, “My question … was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man from the foolish child to the wisest elder: it was a question without an answer to which one cannot live, as I had found by experience. It was: “What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? What will come of my whole life?” Differently expressed, the question is: “Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?” It can also be expressed thus: “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?”
Their helplessness is compounded by the fact the self appointed defender of human rights, the USA and its smooth talking President who claims Mandela “makes me want to be a better man”, continue to abrogate the responsibility that comes with power. The responsibility to protect applies to Libyans and Yazidis but not to Palestinians for unfathomable reasons. For the record, the UN has described the destruction of Gaza as ‘unprecedented” with over 65 000 homes destroyed by Israeli shelling and bombing. What do you think every young person in Gaza is thinking of Israel right now? In whose interest is it to fuel this cycle of violence. Successive US administrations have aided and abetted Israel’s crimes against humanity with the Bush and Obama administrations being the latest accomplices. The cynical reaction of Secretaries of State like Condi Rice are enough to make any person weep with despair at the injustice and callousness of it all.
Since the politicians, especially in the West are cynical, there is only one power that can defeat the Israeli government, which we must not confuse with the Jewish people, lest we be accused of anti-Semitism. It is world opinion, combined with people pressure on different governments that turned apartheid South Africa in to a pariah state. The same must apply to Israel. People power, the same that was abused during the Arab spring to turn Libya in to chaos and Egypt in to a renewed dictatorships, must be directed at putting pressure on Israel to respect international law and to give the Palestinians back their land and country. This means naming and boycotting all firms that do business with Israel and stopping all travel to Israel for starters. It is said that defeating apartheid liberated both Afrikaaner oppressor and black man oppressed alike. Getting Israel to revert to 1967 borders will do the same but the medicine must be applied now and that medicine is boycotting Israel until their leaders see reason.
You individually can afford to boycott Israel for two reasons. Firstly, you have a life which allows you to chose one shopping excursion over another. Identify the shops that stock Israeli goods and boycott them much as you and others did to help stop apartheid. Secondly, your life has meaning simply because you can exercise that mundane option and still make a powerful statement for a people thousands of kilometres from you. You can express your outrage on social media and well done to you for that but it is not enough. While you tweet your anger away,the people of Gaza do not even have the luxury to travel. Israel controls their air, land and sea. It is a travesty. The whole world knows this and for some reason, governments fail to act. So then, let the people who are not beholden to anyone act. Failing to act in one form or another when an entire population are prisoners in the 21st century is criminal negligence. The people of Gaza need your help and if you do not act, there will simply be another cycle of murder on a scale of thousands a few years from now with fancy names like Operation Cast Lead and Protective Edge while Israeli civilians bring sofas to cheer from hillsides deriving a perverse pleasure from watching the systematic destruction of an entire society. It is unacceptable because for now, the meaning of life remains a cruel joke for all Gazans. Act now.
Global icon, Nelson Mandela once said, “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle, and the oppressed is often left no resource but to use the methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a certain point, one can only fight fire with fire.” Israeli authorities have superior fire power. You have superior moral power. Act now.