Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Targeting the innocent in Palestine

The fact that the US and European countries can just watch so much suffering in Palestine and not feel some tinge of sympathy the consciences is extremely depressing. People are suffering tremendously in Gaza right now because of the Western-led international boycott.

Western governments know full well that the boycott is going to hurt average people, and not the Hamas movement. They are betting that people will get so fed up that they will toss Hamas out of power. As a commentator said last night on CNN, it is not only a question of whether or not Hamas recognizes Israel, the US is drawing a line in the sand on fundamentalist parties, out of fear that Hamas' victory is a harbinger of what is to come in other countries. The US can not let Hamas have any degree of success, and it is holding the Palestinian people as hostages to enforce this policy.

All this talk about suspending aid to the government and increasing aid to the people is rubbish. Not only does it plain not work, no banks will touch money going to Gaza right now for fear of breaking some unknown or future US law. As for the 165,000 government employees, like secretaries, janitors, teachers, doctors, health inspectors and everything else, it is now three months since they've been paid. Workers can't go to Israel. Farmers can't get their produce out because Israel has closed the Karni commerical crossing. These are not terrorists or extremists the West is punishing. These are just average people, from all political and social stripes.

This is exactly the point, to hurt average people in order to put pressure on Hamas. As Arabonline reports:

To ease the crisis while bypassing the Hamas-led government, European powers
Britain and France have backed the creation of a special trust fund to help pay
salaries to at least health and education workers. But Western diplomats say the
United States has been trying to block the proposal on the grounds that paying
salaries would take pressure off Hamas.

This is what we did in Iraq for ten years. Policy makers know that sanctioning governments so severely only hurts people. It was not just the immediate suffering of hunger and lack of medicines that have contributed to Iraq being a shambles. It was the increase in malnutrition which stunted children's growth, physical and intellectual. It was the severity of the suffering that increase extremism. It was the lost wages and weakened middle class that broke the society's ability to deal with differences.

There are literally hundreds of reports from all across the political spectrum about the impact of sanctions on Iraq. Here is just an excerpt from one UN report:

The effects of the economic embargo have reached into all spheres of life,
obstructing the course of progress and development in all domains. It could be said that the Iraqi people are today facing destruction and genocide by the agency of a weapon no less deadly than weapons of mass destruction, except that it is an economic embargo. What follows is a summary of the principal effects of the economic embargo imposed upon Iraq.

Yet the West is happy to do it again, at least when Arabs are involved. Has the dehumanization of Arabs and particularly Palestinians reached the point that people will watch babies die for lack of medicine, and whole families go destitute under the claim that such policies are punishment ot a government or a political party?

Sanctions on Iraq did not moderate or even hurt Saddam Hussein, in fact they strengthened him. It did not convince Iraqis to rise up and drive out the Ba'th Party, sanctions killed and radicalized them.

The US and other western countries have dealt with worse people than Hamas. We sold Saddam the chemicals he used to gas Kurds and Iranians. We funded death squads in Guatamala. We have long lists of dictators who prosecuted wars on their neighbors and slaughtered their own people. We befriended them, and we never targeted the populations they terrorized. I don't like Hamas, but why impose sanctions that target first and foremost innocent people?

If you want to go after Hamas, go after them. But don't do it on the souls of innocent bystanders and the future viability of Palestinian society. All the sanctions are doing now is killing innocent people and strengthening Hamas. Strengthen Palestinian society by letting the democratic process develop, weaken Hamas by forcing it to deal with the already overwhelming problems facing Palestine tody. Stop the sanctions!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed looking at your site, I found it very helpful indeed, keep up the good work.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really amazing! Useful information. All the best.

6:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home