No 2008 Posted by fw, July 16, 2017
“You have on the one hand what’s going on in Gaza, which nobody is showing. And on the other hand, you had this photo op where Abbas as prime minister was cutting a ribbon with the head of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank… to open an electricity substation in the north of the West Bank. It’s almost as if they’re putting this in the face of people in Gaza and saying that, ‘You will be suffering. You’ll be made to pay a price. You’ll be subjected to these inhuman conditions unless you collaborate with your occupiers the way Mahmoud Abbas does in the West Bank.’ …. That’s why everyone’s going along with it, because the idea is to prop up Abbas and to have a Western-approved, Israeli-backed Palestinian leadership in the form of Abbas. That’s what this is about. We’ve seen it time and again, country after country, that peoples who do not submit to what is decided for them in Brussels and Washington and Tel Aviv, are subjected to this kind of cruelty and punishment.” — Ali Abunimah, The Real News
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of the award-winning online publication The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.
Once more, Canada falls in line with the US, 28 EU countries, Arab regimes, and UN officials – all with near-total silence over Israel’s ongoing brutality against Gazans. It has reached the point where Israeli brutality, accompanied by unconscionable silence and complicity, have become the norm.
Consider, for example, what PM Trudeau said (didn’t say) during a March 2016 town hall event:
“Israel is a friend, Israel is an ally, Israel is a country that has values and an approach on many, many issues that are very much aligned with Canadians values. But, at the same time… we won’t hesitate from talking about unhelpful steps like the continued illegal settlements. We will point that out. We will continue to engage in a forthright and open way because that’s what people expect of Canada…. There are times we disagree with our friends and we will not hesitate from pointing that out.”
In the light of Israel’s latest horrific atrocities in Gaza, one wonders what it will take to get Trudeau to “point out to our friend, Israel” – whose “values”, says Trudeau, “are very much aligned with Canadian values” – that Israel’s violations of international law in Gaza are, in his word, “unhelpful.”
Trudeau, as expected, will remain silent and complicit.
And where is Green Party leader Elizabeth May when you need her? She appears to be ignoring her Party’s sanctions policy against Israel. Every week she issues her Week in Review busy-ness newsletter and every week there is no sign that she is ever going to act in support of peace and justice for Palestinians.
As for the NDP, has a recent call from over 80 Canadian academics, community leaders, and organizations, for the party to stand with Palestine fallen on deaf ears? Nothing from the independent online news sources that cross my desk daily suggests otherwise.
Of course, one learns to excuse politicians for their ethical flabbiness — moral leadership seldom trumps political expedience.
Below is a repost of the Real News’ hard-hitting interview with Ali Abunimah, featuring the video, embedded, and an abridged, slightly reformatted transcript, with added subheadings and text highlighting. Alternatively, watch the video, and access the full transcript on the Real News website by clicking on the following linked title.
After 10 years of Israeli siege, the UN warns Gaza is becoming ‘unlivable.’ Ali Abunimah of The Electronic Intifada says Israel, with the Palestinian Authority’s help, is responsible for the crisis, as most of the world looks on in silence.
In acts of savage brutality, Israel tightens siege of Gaza with Abbas’ OK, punishing two million innocent civilians
Aaron Mate — It’s the Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. The Gaza Strip recently entered its 11th year under an Israeli siege. In 2012, the World Health Organization warned Gaza will be unlivable by 2020, but now the UN says living conditions in Gaza has worsened faster than anticipated. I see this so extraordinarily inhuman and unjust process of strangling gradually two million civilians in Gaza that really pose a threat to nobody. I don’t know. We talk about the unlivable Gaza. When you’re down to two hours a day of electricity, which was the case earlier this week, when you’ve got 60% youth unemployment, when you really do have such a little horizon, for me, and you probably, and most of the people watching, that unlivable threshold has been passed quite a long time ago.
Gaza’s power plant down, Israel cuts its power supply, sick Gazans denied access to medical care
Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down this week over a shortage of fuel. Gazans have been down to about two hours of power per day after Israel recently cut its already meager supply. The move was supported by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who wants rival Hamas to give up its control of Gaza. That policy is deadly. In recent weeks, at least 16 Gazans have died because Abbas’s government prevented them from leaving Gaza to receive urgent medical treatment. The latest victim was three-year-old [Yara Ismail Bakhit 00:01:48], who was denied permission to leave Gaza to receive treatment for her heart condition. After 10 years of a crippling blockade, Gaza could be facing its worst crisis yet.
I’m joined now by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Ali, thanks for joining me.
It’s hard to know where to start. What do you think people should know about this crisis right now in Gaza, which as I said just passed its 10th year under an Israeli siege?
Three years ago, Israel slaughtered 2200 Gazans, wiping out 142 families
Ali Abunimah — It’s probably three years to the day since I was sitting in probably exactly the same chair talking to the Real News or perhaps another channel about Israel’s attack on Gaza that was going on three years ago at this time, in which more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, 11 children a day on average, 142 families decimated.
Currently, Israel’s siege imperils two million Gazans living in inhuman conditions
Three years later, Gaza is perhaps in its worst situation yet. Let me read you what the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said. “The reality in Gaza is part of an Israeli policy of the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza for the past 10 years, consigning its residents to living in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world.” Two million people living in inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world. That was a month ago.
Try to imagine life in oppressive heat, life without clean water, life without electricity for up to 30 hours,
Things are considerably worse now, because you were talking about two hours of electricity a day. Since earlier this week, people are going for stretches of 30 hours, sometimes longer, with no electricity at all. What does that mean? Try to imagine life without clean water, because the water in Gaza is polluted. Maybe you don’t have water because there’s no power to pump it. There is no waste treatment in Gaza, and raw sewage is being dumped into the Mediterranean. You can’t go to the bathroom when you want to, because there’s no water. You can’t wash when you want to, because there’s no water, no power. All of this amid sweltering summer heat.
This is not a natural disaster, this is a calculated policy choice by Israel
This is on top of the devastation of the siege, but here’s the critical point. This is not a natural disaster. This is a policy choice by Israel to do this to two million people,
And it’s supported by the international community, including Canada
and it’s a policy choice the so-called international community are supporting.
And it goes unreported in mainstream media and, worse still, by Democracy Now
That’s why, Aaron, there is nothing about this in the New York Times. There’s nothing about it on CNN. There’s nothing about it on Democracy Now, for heaven’s sake.
And the European Union is silent
There is total silence as two million people are subjected to this, and it is a choice that the European Union is going along with, the big bloc of 28 countries who never tire of trumpeting how much they love human rights and European values.
And UN officials blame Palestinians
It is something the UN is going along with, the UN officials who have been systematically downplaying Israel’s responsibility and trying to blame Palestinians for what’s going on.
And Arab regimes are either silent or, like Egypt, complicit
Of course, it’s something the Arab regimes are all going along with or are directly complicit in, like Egypt. Two million people living in conditions unparalleled in the modern world with near-total silence.
Mate — Ali, I guess what might be different now, and correct me if I’m wrong, is the extent to which Mahmoud Abbas is taking part. Can you talk about what he’s been doing in terms of his attempt to put pressure on Hamas?
Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel to cut electricity to put pressure on Hamas
Abunimah — Absolutely. The current downward spiral began in April, when the Palestinian Authority asked Israel basically to cut the electricity supply to Gaza. This was part of a whole host of measures taken by Mahmoud Abbas to try to put pressure on Hamas, as you said in the intro.
But Israel alone, as the occupying power, bears sole responsibility for this cruel punishment
The critical point is that Israel, according to the UN, according to the Red Cross, according to all authorities on this issue, remains the occupying power in Gaza. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is responsible legally and morally for the lives and the basic welfare of the population in Gaza. Israel is hiding behind the Palestinian Authority and saying, “This is an internal dispute between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas and we have nothing to do with it.”
No, that’s not true. Israel is the one that turns on and off the power. As the Israeli human rights groups have said, even if Abbas asks Israel to turn off the power, Israel is legally obligated to refuse, and to ensure that sewage can be treated. The sewage situation is so bad that Israel is having to close its beaches because of the amount of sewage flowing into the Mediterranean from Gaza. Israel can turn this situation on and off.
Abbas, the Palestinian Quisling, is the photo-op darling of the international community
Having said that, Abbas is the darling of the so-called international community. He is the Palestinian Quisling, I think it’s the only appropriate word, who works closely with the Israeli occupation in the West Bank. You have these grotesque images this week. You have on the one hand what’s going on in Gaza, which nobody is showing, and on the other hand you had this photo op where Abbas as prime minister was cutting a ribbon with the head of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, the head of the so-called Civil Administration, to open an electricity substation in the north of the West Bank.
Abbas’ message to Hamas – Collaborate with Israel or suffer
It’s almost as if they’re putting this in the face of people in Gaza and saying that, “You will be suffer. You’ll be made to pay a price. You’ll be subjected to these inhuman conditions unless you collaborate with your occupiers the way Mahmoud Abbas does in the West Bank.” That’s the political message that these measures are supposed to send.
Brussels, Washington, Tel Aviv want a Western-approved, Israeli-backed Palestinian leadership, i.e. Abbas
That’s why everyone’s going along with it, because the idea is to prop up Abbas and to have a Western-approved, Israeli-backed Palestinian leadership in the form of Abbas. That’s what this is about. We’ve seen it time and again, country after country, that peoples who do not submit to what is decided for them in Brussels and Washington and Tel Aviv, are subjected to this kind of cruelty and punishment.
Gazans, including children, are either without or denied treatment and medical care. They’re dying,
Mate — Ali, you mentioned photographs. In your recent piece for The Electronic Intifada about the crisis in Gaza, you showed a photograph of the young girl who I mentioned who I died because of a lack of medical treatment, Yara Ismail Bakhit. Can you talk about her and the denial of treatment, medical care, to Palestinians inside Gaza?
Abunimah — Yeah. What we know is that the health system in Gaza, which has been inadequate for decades despite the heroic efforts of the medical personnel in Gaza, has been in a deep crisis, deepening crisis for months. For example, in April the World Health Organization warned about the dire situation in hospitals. In May, the Red Cross warned that the health system in Gaza was on the brink of systemic collapse.
The main hospital in Gaza City, Al-Shifa Hospital, has cut surgeries by a drastic amount, by more than a third at that time, probably more now, because if you need a life-saving surgery that lasts six hours or eight hours, they can’t keep the life support systems on for that long, because there’s no electricity and there’s no fuel for the generators. You have thousands of people in Gaza. You have cancer patients. You have people with life-threatening illnesses who have to be transferred to hospitals in the West Bank or in Israel for treatment.
PA and Israel use sick children as weapon against Hamas
Of course, Israel makes the Palestinian Authority pay for that treatment, and so what the Palestinian Authority has been doing systematically since April is refusing or delaying the referrals of Palestinian patients from Gaza. According to the health ministry spokesman in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, Yara Ismail Bakhit, who was three years old, a toddler, was the 16th person to die in recent weeks because the Palestinian Authority had refused to approve a medical referral. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which has been documenting and researching the numbers, the number of referrals has gone from more than 2,000 in March to just 500 in June. They are using sick children, the Palestinian Authority and Israel are using sick children, as a weapon against Hamas.
Under international law, Israel must provide medical care and medical services for Gazans
Let’s remember, of course, if Abbas refuses to approve these treatments, Israel as the occupier is required under international law, under the Geneva Convention. It’s not an option. It’s an obligation to provide medical care and life-saving services to the people in Gaza. Israel, by refusing to do that and by hiding behind Abbas, is committing an additional war crime against people in Gaza by deliberately, willfully, and knowingly denying them medical services, and in many cases life-saving medical services.
Israel denies it is an occupying power because it left Gaza in 2005
Yeah, all that is accurate, of course. Just to go to the point of Israel denying it’s the occupying power, you hear this propaganda or [inaudible 00:13:53] line all the time, this talking point. “Israel left Gaza in 2005.” Israel left Gaza. It moved its settlers out of Gaza, and it moved its occupation to the perimeter.
But international bodies, the US and EU disagree saying that Israel effectively controls Gaza’s borders
Every authority on this, and by the way this includes on paper the U.S. government and the European Union, the United Nations, the International Committee for the Red Cross, says that because Israel maintains effective control over Gaza, over the land, the sea, and the air around Gaza, it is still the occupying power, and its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention are intact.
But referencing the Fourth Geneva Convention is one thing, enforcing it and holding Israel accountable quite another
The problem is, no one enforces that. No one is holding Israel accountable of these big powers, and so even though it’s the occupying power on paper, what happens is that Israel imposes these inhuman conditions on two million people, and at best the so-called international community scrambles to do an appeal to various donor governments to patch up, to do palliative care. What they don’t do is challenge Israel and hold it accountable.
“We should have made sure who was going to win that election,” Hillary Clinton after Hamas won in Gaza
Mate — Ali, you mentioned earlier how Hamas had won the election that the Bush administration pushed for. Just to illustrate how bipartisan U.S. attitudes are when it comes to Palestinians, I want to read for you a quote from Hillary Clinton. She was speaking after Hamas won. She said, “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake. If we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure we did something to determine who was going to win.”
Ali, as we wrap, you mentioned earlier the silence that has greeted the latest crisis in Gaza across the spectrum. I’m wondering finally if you can comment on why you think that silence exists and what should be done about it.
Why the silence from the international community over the latest humanitarian violations in Gaza?
Abunimah — Yeah. Just to add that it wasn’t just Hillary Clinton who took that position. Barack Obama, when he was a senator and before he ran for president, also criticized the Bush administration for allowing Palestinians to choose their leaders. I just want to make sure that doesn’t get lost in history.
This is a time of “great despair” and “great hope”
Let me just say that we live at a moment of great despair and also simultaneously great hope.
Despair because official complicity and silence has never been greater
What I mean by that is that the official complicity and silence has never been greater. In my life, I have never seen more official complicity with Israel from governments, from international organizations, from institutions,
Hope because grassroots support and mobilization for justice for Palestinians is stronger
But at the same time, I’ve never seen more grassroots support and mobilization for Palestinian rights and Palestinian liberation. I was just talking to my friend in Gaza [Haid Arid 00:22:49]. He said that right now, from the darkened homes of Gaza, he said the greatest hope for people there is the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, popular mobilization and pressure that can begin to hold Israel accountable. It’s much less than is needed, but it’s growing and it’s something that gives people hope and is immune to the kind of institutional complicity that has brought us to this point.
It’s up to us to challenge complicity and silence
I guess that’s what I would say, that it’s up to us to challenge the institutional complicity and silence. If the U.S. regime media, as I call it, don’t make noise about Gaza, it’s up to people should be demonstrating, holding protests at the UN and Israeli embassies, at Palestinian Authority embassies, because they’re all complicit in this siege. Of course, there was, by the way, a demonstration today in Brussels at the European Union headquarters. People need to hear that this suffering will not be allowed to go on in silence.
Mate — Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, thanks so much.
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