Why care about Gaza?
For those of us living in the United States, the plight of the people of the Gaza Strip matters, not only because of the great injustices done, but because we are forced to pay for the very weapons that bring misery to so many people there.
We are given no choice. In the name of fighting “terrorism,” schools and hospitals are closed, services are cut and untold billions of dollars are spent making war throughout the Middle East. The same bankers who care not a whit about the suffering of the Palestinians care not a whit whether people in the U.S. have jobs, health care, schools and other necessities of life.
When we learn about Palestine, we learn about ourselves-how the very human thirst for justice and dignity is worldwide and cannot be wiped away no matter the odds.
Who are the people of Gaza?
More than a million of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in Gaza are refugees or the descendents of refugees driven from their towns and villages in 1948 in what is now called Israel. For more than 60 years they have lived in Gaza, which is little more than a strip of sand and does not have the resources to support such a dense population. Their situation remains unresolved.
This writer was in Gaza in 1988, as a witness to the first Intifada. I spoke with families whose homes had been broken into by Israeli soldiers in the middle of night in raids meant to terrorize. Young men and women showed me their scars and bruises from beatings by soldiers. I watched grandmothers, as a matter of course, risk their lives by running into the streets and wresting Palestinian youth from armed Israeli soldiers about to arrest them.
Living conditions in Gaza have always been difficult, and the level of struggle always high. But not like today.
Why read this book?
This book tells a compelling story. It begins in January 2005, when Hamas received an electoral majority from the Palestinian people in Gaza, and ends shortly after May 31, 2010, when Israeli commandos attacked a flotilla of ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza and killed nine people.
Told here is how the impoverished Palestinian people in the tiny and resource-poor Gaza strip have withstood five years of siege, hunger, blockade and massive bombardment by Israel, but still stand tall, refusing to give up their right to determine their own lives and to choose their own government.
The world’s most powerful governments sided with Israel, even while bombs rained down on Gaza civilians. The regimes in the U.S. and Europe participated in the economic strangulation of Gaza, and pretended not to see the suffering there.
People sickened and outraged at Gaza’s punishment
But these governments did not speak for their people. From the U.S., Canada and Latin America to Europe, Asia and Africa, workers and progressives were sickened and outraged at the punishment of Gaza. The horror of the Israeli onslaught, the bravery of the Palestinians in Gaza, and the continued inaction of the big powers sparked actions in solidarity with Gaza across the globe.
A worldwide grassroots movement of organizations and individuals grew and began to defy the siege of Gaza and break the blockade by bringing in humanitarian aid themselves, even at the risk of their own lives.
Events revised by corporate media
Events in Gaza over those five years need to be told because even as they unfolded, the events were revised and distorted by the corporate media in Israel, the U.S. and Europe.
The victims-the Palestinian people and the Hamas government – were called the aggressors, while the true aggressor-the Israeli government backed and armed by Washington-was called the victim. Solidarity activists who delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza at great risk were mostly ignored, with their stories, and sometimes their deaths, untold.
Hamas, Jewish opposition given a voice
This book fills in those gaps and sets the record straight. It also gives voice to those silenced by FOX News and the New York Times. While there has been a great deal of invective in the corporate media about Hamas, these same newspapers and TV news shows have censored out Hamas’s voice. This book includes what Hamas had to say in its own words about key events, about its motivation and about its goals. Other Palestinians are given voice here. A Palestinian Marxist explains class relations in the Middle East. The questions “What do Palestinians want?” and “How can supporters best help?” are answered by a Palestinian leader in the U.S.
Many Jewish people, inside and outside of Israel, back Palestinian rights. They are sickened by the slaughter the Israeli state has committed in the false name of “protecting” them. Censored out of the main media, this book presents their views.
U.N. Goldstone report’s findings detailed
The Goldstone Report was barely mentioned in the corporate media. This 574-page United Nations probe of the Gaza war is a scathing indictment of Israeli policy and war crimes. The report’s Executive Summary is excerpted here, along with an expos‚ by Palestinian jurists of Israel’s misuse of international law.
Many think that Israel is on one side and the Arabs are on the other. But this view does not consider that different social classes have different views. Here eyewitnesses document the Egyptian government’s hostility to activists trying to enter Gaza with medicine. In marked contrast, the Egyptian people passionately oppose Gaza’s strangulation. A Palestinian Marxist explains why this is so.
Provided here are the facts and analysis that answer: Who are the establishment media, and why don’t they give the Palestinian people fair coverage? Why does the U.S. government always line up with Israel? Why have European and most U.S-aligned Arab regimes sat on their hands while Gaza burned and starves?
Gaza exposed imperialism’s weakness
Many selections in this book refer to “imperialism.” Imperialism is the current stage of capitalism. It is marked by the fusion of giant corporations with large banks to form finance capital. These U.S. and West European monopolies export capital to their neo-colonies to more efficiently plunder the resources and labor there, and increase their rate of profit at the colony’s expense.
The U.S., the strongest imperial power, is the dominant force in the Middle East. So little Gaza is not up against just Israel, it is up against the U.S. and the whole predatory imperialist system.
This makes Gaza’s courage even more important. By refusing to submit, Gaza has exposed the weakness of the whole imperialist system. While the U.S.-supplied high-tech weapons that Israel dropped on this small territory could kill and maim, they could not defeat a people united and determined to resist.
Gaza is still besieged
Gaza’s ordeal has not ended. Its people are still besieged, and conditions there are harsh. It is hoped that this story of Gaza’s resistance will move the reader to take some action in Gaza’s behalf, and that this book provides the informational tools to explain to others why this is important.
Contributing writers have the highest credentials Most of the material here has been reprinted or excerpted from Workers World newspaper, whose reporters worked diligently to tell the real story as the news broke by combing multiple news sources worldwide. Many writers also made fact-finding trips to the Middle East to report first-hand.
The contributors to this book are not political pundits who talk from their easy chairs. They are not reporters who go to the Middle East only to describe events from five-star hotels. Some of the contributors to this book are Israeli or U.S. military resisters. Some have observed events in Palestine, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East alongside the liberation struggles. Some have pushed through the blockade of Gaza at great personal risk to show solidarity, deliver aid and return with eyewitness reports. Some have organized the forums, the tribunals and the demonstrations that over the years make the true situation of the Palestinian people known. They all have the very highest credentials: They are activists.
- Joyce Chediac, editor, November 5, 2010