I’ve been silent on the Gaza issue.  Not because I haven’t been following developments, but because I do not have anything new or interesting to say.  I’ve just re-read my take on the 2006 Israel-Lebanon crisis, and my view on the current catastrophe is very similar – the military response lacks imagination.  If you’re faced with a situation where bombing civilians seems to be the only course of action left open to you, then you’ve already been outmanoeuvered, you have already lost, and the only thing you are playing for is your own soul, your own humanity.  Those who persecute these strikes simply lack an understanding of the mess they’re in.  Either that, or they are waging war for cynical, electoral reasons.
Watching the UN impotently go through their motions, its clear that the tired, tried and tested route through these kinds of crises are futile.  Anything from ‘outside the box’ would be welcome at this juncture.  It is the unexpected gestures that regain the initiative, and provide a solution, a new momentum.
This suggestion from Jeffrey Goldberg caught my eye:

Why not erect a massive tent hospital in Sderot, staff it with Israeli army doctors, and treat the Palestinian wounded there?

A PR stunt, to be sure, but at least its humane.

'The Unrecognized' still unrecognized

A couple of years ago I was part of the team that produced The Unrecognized, a film highlighting the plight of the Bedouin population of the Negev (Naqab) desert in southern Israel. Despite having lived and worked on the land since the time of the British Mandate and before, their settlements and farms are not acknowledged by the state. Despite paying taxes, the residents are denied basic services such as water and healthcare, which their Jewish neighbours in the area take for granted.
Their story has been in the news again recently, due to a recent report by Human Rights Watch that renews the criticism of Israel’s discriminatory laws.
Highlighting the the terrible plight of the Bedouin is an important element in the campaign to end the discriminatory policies of the Israeli state. While campaigners in the West Bank and Gaza are undermined by the extremism of Hamas and its surrogates, no such counter exists for the Bedouin, who welcome their status as part of the Israeli state, and just want to be treated as equals within it. This gives the lie to the idea that Israeli discrimination is simply a response to Arab aggression in the region. Instead, it demonstrates the state’s drive towards ethnic purity, and the inevitable denial of human rights this entails.
For those of us who have visited the Naqab, some of the propaganda disseminated by Zionist groups is quite galling. The JNF extorts people to come and live in the Negev with pioneering slogans such as “You See a Desert, We See an Opportunity” which implies that the land is empty and uncultivated. In fact, as our film The Unrecognized shows, much of the land has already been farmed… by the Bedouin. Our film shows state authorities ploughing up crops that have been planted by Bedouin farmers, and that many kibbutzes were actually established not on new desert ground, but on land that was forcibly taken from its Bedouin owners. The JNF fails to acknowledge the existence of the Bedouin in its publicity material, which has an air of sinister idealism as a result. Gordon Brown, a patron of the charity, should insist that its activities do not discriminate against minority groups. Israel could be a beautiful place to settle, work and live, but only if all its peoples are treated equally.
Cross posted at the LiberalConspiracy, where all comments should be directed, I reckon.

Facetious Gaza Post

Gaza Wall
In reporting the recent Gaza border break the BBC reffered to the security “wall”. Now, call me pedantic, but that looks more like a big fence to me, just like the other “security fence” currently under construction around the West Bank.
Oh, but wait! The fence in the West Bank is actually a wall. Now I’m confused. Why can’t we get nomenclature correct on this one?
That’s the problem with dehumanising people these days, you just run into a wall of political correctness. Or is that a fence?

Johnston released

Alan Johnston just after his releaseIts very good news that Alan Johnston has been released from captivity in Gaza. Today would be a good day to remember that five Britons are still missing in Iraq (why do we not hear much talk about them) and that captured Israeli Gilad Shalit is still being used as a bargaining chip by Hamas – the same organisation which secured Johnston’s release.
Mordechai Vanunu after his abductionI did notice a strange similarity between one of the frantic snaps of Alan arriving (or is he leaving) in a car, and the iconic image of nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu after his capture in Rome. Two balding men with their hands up against the glass – one man on his way to freedom, the other on his way to captivity.

You're still an MP, Tony

With all this talk about Tony Blair taking on some role as a Middle-East envoy for the US, no-one seems to have remembered that he will still be a Labour MP after he steps down as Prime Minister on Wednesday. He won’t be able to go galavanting off to Palestine if Gordon Brown’s whips’ office needs him for a crucial division on housing reform.
The only way he will be able to take George Bush up on his offer is if he resigns as an MP, forcing a by-election… or if Prime Minister Brown calls an early election. Perhaps Tony knows something we don’t…