Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Meanwhile, in Non-America...

Gaza is going straight to hell. Various NGOs have taken to calling it "the worst they've seen since '67"

(In other words, it was a Tuesday.)

Edit: Fixed the weird little errors there. For an American impression (as opposed to those horrible biased BBCers) CNN has them calling it an "implosion":

Israel denounced the 16-page report, saying it is merely defending itself and calling the notion of a humanitarian crisis "fabricated."

However, Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of Care International UK, one of the groups behind the report, said the crisis exists. Innocent people are suffering and dying, he said. Read the full report

"It's unacceptable and that's why we're raising the issue," he said. "It can't get much worse."

The report blasts Israel's blockade of Gaza, saying that by slashing shipments of supplies and forbidding Palestinians to leave for work or healthcare, the Jewish state is imposing hardships on the 1.5 million Palestinians residing in the ravaged territory.

"Gaza has suffered from a long-term pattern of economic stagnation and plummeting development indicators," according to the report. "The severity of the situation has increased exponentially since Israel imposed extreme restrictions on the movement of goods and people in response to the Hamas takeover of Gaza and to indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel."

Israel, which stepped up its military operations in Gaza last week in response to Palestinian militants firing rockets into the Jewish state, quickly responded to the report, saying Hamas -- not Israel -- was to blame for the hardships in Gaza.

"As stated to these organizations time and time again by the Israeli government, they should point their criticism towards the Hamas terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, and not against the state of Israel," a statement from Israel's Foreign Ministry said.

The Israeli government went on to make the usual comments about Palestinians needing to stop firing the rockets and that it's al Hamas' fault etc. etc. etc. This sort of thing doesn't really reflect well on Israel, though: saying that what you're doing is necessary and unavoidable is one thing, but denying that there are any negative consequences and then pulling out the "yeah, but they started it" card just isn't going to fly.

If you look at this more closely, though, you see the central problem. Israel keeps (wittingly or unwittingly) framing this as a form of collective punishment: Gaza lets Hamas rule them, and thus Gaza deserves to suffer the economic devastation of the lockdown. Israel keeps making it over and over again, and it keeps on not working over and over again. It simply won't sway anybody who doesn't think that some random Palestinian kid deserves to suffer because the guys with the machine guns are firing rockets at Israel. Nobody who wasn't already going to believe anything they say in the first place, anyway.

I don't see why they'd think it'd work, either: no Israeli would ever tolerate the argument that blowing up a Tel Aviv coffee bar or, say, Tel Aviv would be an acceptable response to the IDF overstepping its bounds somewhere, so why would they buy it working the other way? If you can credit the Israelis with individuality, then the Palestinians clearly deserve it too, no matter where you stand on that conflict.

Israel can and should defend itself. Its spokesmen just need to be honest about it.

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