Monday, 4 August 2014


A post about Palestine had to happen some time. I haven't been ignoring this stream of atrocities; I just haven't been able to gather the will to write something coherent and intelligent about it. I've shared stuff on Facebook and Twitter from people far more knowledgeable than myself, spoken with friends at length about our shared horror, joined the solidarity campaigns, signed petitions and written to my MP. And still the death toll rises, the UK & US governments trot out the faux-diplomatic subtly pro-Israel speeches, and an end to the violence feels as far away as ever.

Today is August 4th, and from the figures I can find, the death toll in Gaza stands at 1,822, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians, children in particular. 

I have seen countless heart-wrenching images of dead children over the last few weeks. While the temptation to look away is strong, I feel it is my duty to see these losses, to share in my miniscule, feeble way, the anguish of their parents. I will not hide my head in the sand and get on with my cosy Western life, pretending that there aren't innocent people being killed. 

Violence of this nature is, of course, not restricted to Palestine. The Israeli government is not the only authority to exact terrible murderous atrocities against innocents. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Sudan, Nigeria, and more - all of these countries are experiencing ongoing violence and conflict, with untold numbers of civilian deaths and injuries. 

What makes Gaza stand out, for me, is the UK's role in creating and sustaining the oppression of the Palestinian people. I shan't attempt to outline the history here, but I do urge you to look into it if you don't already know the background. In short, the Palestinians have been systematically marginalised and oppressed over the last 60 years, and broadly speaking, much of the responsibility for that rests on the shoulders of the British and American governments, both historically and currently. Today Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, called for an urgent arms embargo on Israel, and highlighted that  since 2010 Britain has sold £42million worth of military equipment to Israel. Just a few days ago, after condemning the shelling of a UN school in Gaza, the US government opened up their Israel-based weapons store to the Israeli forces and yesterday, news broke that congress has pledged $225million to replenish Israel's missile stocks.

Meanwhile, the people of Gaza - the targets for all this weaponry supplied, largely, by Britain and America - cannot escape. They are literally walled in, and even their shelters in the forms of schools and hospitals are increasingly falling victim to shelling attacks.

The pretext for this month-long wave of attacks from Israel - the "collective punishment" meted out as retribution for the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers - has quietly been exposed as not in fact the work of Hamas, but a lone cell. But has the violence abated? No. It escalates daily. And people die by the hundreds.

I saw a post on Facebook that made for an interesting analogy:

Let's stop "other-ising" the people in Gaza for the moment, shall we. Let's imagine that these are fellow human beings, in a beyond desperate state with not so much as a hint of a light at the end of the tunnel. 

There are small things that each of us can do that, collectively, may make just enough of a difference to force the UK government to change its course of action (or lack thereof). There are petitions and open letters to sign, email templates to send to your local MP, charities you can support, marches and demonstrations to join - and you can carry on witnessing and acknowledging that the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza is real and gut-wrenchingly unfair. 

To the people of Gaza: I see your pain and suffering. I see the destruction of your homes, hospitals, schools and livelihoods. I will not turn my eyes away from the obliterated streets lined with torn bodies and pretend you are not there. I see you. 

Some useful links:

Palestine Solidarity Campaign:
Open letter to David Cameron:
Petition to UK government to end the conflict:

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