Hamas is to blame for Gaza's terrible state, not Israel
Op-ed: While Hamas is determined to perpetuate the suffering in the Strip, Israel must provide an alternative by offering Gazans hope. The Palestinians must know that they can get a seaport, an open border, and a chance for prosperity. The whole world should know this.
The residents of the Gaza Strip – which has a 40 percent unemployment rate, hundreds of thousands of restless youth, no electricity during most of the daylight hours, polluted water that does not always flow, and a tightening blockade that has lasted for years – are indeed a powder keg.
It's enough to read the latest UN report, from September 2015, which says that the Strip will not be suitable for human habitation within five years. This is not propaganda. It is a realistic prediction. One should listen carefully to the head of IDF Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi, who has been warning of this grim reality. The only relief comes in the form of hundreds of supply trucks that arrive daily from Israel. This is the last barrier that prevents hunger.
Don’t say its Israel’s fault. Because the day Israel left Gaza was supposed to be a turning point. For the first time in history, the Palestinians got independence and sovereignty over territory.
Egypt and Jordan, which controlled the Gaza Strip and West Bank, respectively, from 1949 to 1967, never dreamed of giving the Palestinians independence. An independent Gaza Strip was an opportunity for change. They could have become a model of welfare and prosperity. They could have sent a message to the whole world - and particularly Israel - that they can be trusted, that they can take responsibility for their destiny, that they were choosing a growth industry. This did not happen. They chose the industry of death and hate.
From the moment Hamas took over Gaza in a military coup, it was clear that this would be the result. Anywhere an Islamic organization takes over, the result is destruction and ruin. It has nothing to do with Israel. It has to do with the essence - yes, the essence - of political Islam. It does not know how to build. It knows how to destroy. It does not respect life. It honors death. The same is happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Sinai, and Libya. So if anybody thought something different was going to happen in Gaza, they suffered from a shortsighted delusion. Because Hamas is destruction.
An industry of death
Tens of thousands of tons of concrete for building homes were diverted to the construction of tunnels of death. Children - even children - were sent to forced labor under conditions of slavery. Hundreds were killed there. According to a report by the Institute for Palestine Studies, more than 160 children died by 2012. The institute got scared and tried to correct itself. After all, it is forbidden to show Hamas’s true face, because Israel has to be the one to blame. Only Israel can be blamed. Since, then there has been an increase in the numbers of dead children. It is safe to assume that the numbers are still rising, but the exact number will never be revealed. In this world, when Muslims massacre Muslims, the world does not care or keep tally, because they are allowed to.
Hamas has a clear interest that this powder keg, known as the Gaza Strip, explodes. Hamas knows the world will blame Israel. After all, Muslims have no responsibility for their destiny. They are allowed to divert resources for the industry of death and go on harvesting hate. The Muslims under their rule are inconsequential to them. Because the goal was and remains attacking Israel, even at the cost of thousands or tens of thousands of additional victims. “We love death, “ Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, explains, and Hamas’ TV channel made it clear that “they love death more than the Zionists love life.” They mean every word of it.
Giving Gazans hope
It's Hamas, not Israel. Israel must do everything to give hope to the Strip’s inhabitants. Israel needs to turn back to the European Union’s proposal: To lift the blockade in exchange for demilitarization. It is true that Israel has already halfheartedly expressed its readiness for such an arrangement, but that's not enough. The initiative needs to be put back on the table in a far clearer manner, and must be made practical. A seaport should be offered. It is very possible that Hamas will reject it. It has no interest in prosperity. But the Strip’s inhabitants need to know that they have a way out of Hamas' tunnels of death and destruction. They need to know that they can get a seaport and a far more open border, as well as livelihood and an opportunity to prosper, on the condition their leadership would be so kind as to prefer life and hope over death and crises. The whole world needs to know that Israel is willing to give Gaza residents a chance for a bettler life. No, the world does not know this, neither do the Gazans.
And if an explosion does happen, it is better if its shockwaves are directed towards the horrific Hamas regime. In order for that to happen, Israel needs to do more, a lot more. We should listen to Herzl Halevi. Whether Hamas accepts the Israeli initiative or reject it, Israel will stand to gain from it. It is time for Israel to do something, both for the Gazans and for Israel.
'ZIO' and 'ZOG' in OxfordThe epithet "ZIO" is primarily known as jargon used by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. It is short for Zionist, meaning Jews. All Jews. It does not matter how many anti-Zionist Jews will try to cozy up to them - to the anti-Semites, they always will be ZIO. This epithet usually goes hand in hand with ZOG, short for Zionist Occupied Government.
Last week, Alex Chalmers resigned from the co-chairmanship of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC). He accused his fellow club members and leftists with adopting anti-Semitic tones, including the use of the "ZIO" epithet towards Jews. The breaking point was when his fellow club members, with a majority of 18 against 16, approved their endorsement of the Apartheid Week (organized by the BDS Movement), despite knowing that it means identification with Hamas and anti-Semitism. Chalmers was not prepared to be a party to this debacle.
Chalmers’ courageous step was reported far beyond the boundaries of the university. All of the newspapers in Britain dealt with the subject in the last week. “Oxford Left is accused of anti-Semitism”, a headline in the Times of London announced. The Guardian reported that an investigation was launched, on behalf of the Labour party, into the serious allegations, and Ed Miliband, the Labour party's former leader, who was supposed to be the guest of honor at an annual event at the Oxford University Labour Club, postponed his appearance pending investigation.
Chalmers created a small, growing snowball. He is truly praiseworthy. But this won’t diminish the level of anti-Semitism, because the new kind of anti-Semitism is a result of horrific propaganda against Israel. It's no longer just criticism. When an Irish speaker talked about the murderous Israel last year, his primary source of information was two members of Breaking the Silence, who were there a week before. We can understand him, when IDF soldiers are depicted as a group of bloodthirsty soldiers who are eager to obey orders calling for the massacre of innocent civilians, the result is no longer criticism of the occupation. The result is ZIO and ZOG.
Chalmers’ in the left get their information from a variety of sources, that vary from Hamas supporters to Breaking the Silence members. It is safe to assume that the latter have no intention of raising the level of anti-Semitism. They really mean to merely criticize the occupation, but when they refuse to understand their role in the anti-Israel campaign, when they cooperate with BDS, and when they get funding from entities that support BDS, the result is already known. They share in the cultivation of hate.
Chalmers showed courage. Let’s hope that Israelis who have justified criticism of Israeli policies will display the same kind of courage as Chalmers.