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Don’t give in to the temptation… (Gaza)

Here’s a comment on the ongoing (and age-old) Gaza conflict I’ve found in the Spanish daily El País. Yamila Fakhouri, professor of penal law, author and herself a Palestinian, makes some very valid and important points to dissolve some recurring simplifications and stereotypes on Palestinians, and on Hamas in particular. Mostly, Fakhouri argues, the conflict doesn’t just boil down to religious extremism. Rather, the protest and conflict goes deeper, back to an anti-colonial struggle for independence. While some Palestinians do resort to Islam to assert and stress their identity in the face of the Jewish state that wields control over them, Palestinians as a whole are far from being religious extremists. But there is a real danger extremism will grow if new, productive avenues of political negotiation keep getting blocked. Some noteworthy passages below. Translation and emphasis mine.

Por favor, no caigan en la tentación. (Original article in El País, Spanish)

Yamila Fakhouri: Please don’t give in to the temptation
Don’t stick us Palestinians into the same bag as Osama Bin Laden.

In Gaza, Hamas is currently in power, an organization elected at the ballot box in 2006, which is more the product of a number of factors to do with an insufferable corruption among Fatah, as well as with the frustration with Fatah leaders’ fruitless policies, rather than with an actual muslim radicalization in the region. The objectives of Hamas’ armed wing, for now, don’t go beyond those of any struggle for freedom. Please don’t misunderstand: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is — first and and foremost — not a religious struggle. It’s a fight over land. Beyond this, apart from how much or how little appreciation these organizations [like Hamas] can gain for their positions, they also dispose of a network of social assistance for the families, mostly in Gaza, which lack everything that would allow them a life in dignity. That, in turn, contributes to the support and sympathy they receive from the population.

On the other hand we have the Western powers’ hypocrisy, the abandonment, even the clandestine support for such a situation of flagrant injustice which has lasted for 67 years. That, in turn, contributes to large parts of the Palestinian people seeking hope in religion, for consolation, as a symbol of identity. But those same powers reacted outraged [once Hamas had been elected]… and the EU cut their funding.

On the other side of the rectangle we have Netanyahu and Sharon, equally if not more radical than Hamas leadership, however with more resources and an enormous history of dead Palestinians behind them. They both occupied the position of Prime Minister and nobody seemed to be scandalized. There were no consequences, neither economic nor otherwise. At the end of the day, Israel is a democratic state based on a secret service that commits extrajudicial executions, keeps minors in prison and people under arrest without trial — kidnapped, to put it simply and technically — it is considering lifetime imprisonment for minors and adults and it regularly uses torture as a means to obtain information, as the organizations working in the area are by now growing tired to report.

In Palestine, there is radicalism: civilians kill themselves and they chant slogans as much as they burn flags in front of TV cameras in the name of Allah, yes. And the more one continues to seek security and fight against terrorism by way of collective punishment, by death, by taking vengeance, by infringing on the most basic human rights, through injustice — the more radicalism there will be.

[…]

Recognizing the causes of the conflict isn’t only desirable, it’s necessary to be able to analyze the phenomenon and to offer appropriate measures to contain it. Recognizing it and working on solving these aspects are the only things that can generate change and progress, which can never be achieved by punishment (alone).

I’m thinking about this and writing these lines on the AVE [high speed train] from Madrid to Barcelona, freezing from the air conditioning in my short pants and my spaghetti strap top. I don’t identify with any creed nor religion. I dance salsa. I’m a doctor of law. And I am also a Palestinian. Just like thousands of Christian Palestinians who suffer from the same problems as their Muslim neighbours. Just like the children who die from the bombs the Israeli army shoots at them as they’re playing on the beach. Just like thousands of brothers and sisters, in Palestine, in Israel or elsewhere, religious or not, who above anything else in this world would like to live in peace.

Please don’t be tempted to stick us all into the same bag as Osama Bin Laden, or into the one of the most stubborn caste of Zionists who rule Israel these days.

Short link: http://wp.me/p1DZIc-ot

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  1. Donald
    September 3, 2014 at 13:23

    Good Article

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