Recently by Karen Kwiatkowski: This Is War
It's time for those Americans who wish to stay and fight our overweening government to recognize a new model of survivalism, and learn from it.
A million and a half Gazans, 40% or so under the age of 14 years, live on a small strip of desert, with human movement and trade blockaded by Israeli and Egyptian governments. That blockade has been strenuously applied since Israel's December 2008 Operation Cast Lead. The reasons? Collective punishment for electing Hamas in their last election, and holding an Israeli soldier, and in general, as a hedge for Israel's security. I suspect the punitive and drawn-out pain being inflicted on Gazans since the destruction handed out in December 2008 (by heavily US-funded warplanes and missiles) also relates to the fox in the manger resentment within some Israeli sectors about the 2005 removal of illegal settlements there.
After all, all war requires anger, just as true crime requires hate. Governments bent on growth (or do I repeat myself?) have always invested a lot of time, energy and creativity provoking and nurturing those emotions.
The blockade of Gaza is in the world news, but thanks to a healthy, well-financed and deeply entrenched political fifth column for all things Likud, not so much here in the United States. I suspect that fewer than one person in 1 million in this country knows what Israel's government has already shared: the Freedom Flotilla was unarmed beyond poles and kitchen knives; two former US ambassadors and a retired American Army colonel were on board and taken prisoner, the Israeli attack occurred 85 miles off shore in international waters on a clearly marked Turkish-flagged ship, and that a young American citizen was shot in the head four times at close range, with a fifth coup de grāce to the chest. Honestly, I don't know the order of the five shots. The boy is dead, and he was one of ours. There has been more media coverage on the death of the Gore marriage, or the status of a Kuwaiti blogger this week than the Israeli murder on the high seas. I'm almost tempted to wonder if the Israelis have heard of tasers? But as the Gaza and West Bank situations have testified for decades, proportionality of response isn't an Israeli forte. Kind of like living with an alcoholic parent, I guess.
Speaking with Ray McGovern yesterday on Jack Blood's program, I was reminded that Turkey is a juridical ally with the United States — meaning we have mutual defense agreements with Turkey as signatories to the NATO treaty. This, my dear friends, is why we have Turkish, and all kinds of other NATO troops in Afghanistan nine years after 9/11. The Turks under the NATO banner responded in accordance with our request for their help in defeating an enemy who attacked us.
I suspect that fewer than 1 in 10 million Americans knows that we have no such, or even similar, juridical or treaty relationships regarding mutual defense with Israel. No disrespect to the Constitution, but I think the Church Lady has the only logical reaction to our system of making foreign policy when she says, "Well, isn't that special?!"
What's not special is the tough and strangely free market survivalism of the Palestinians in Gaza. They must be angry at daily reminders of the powerful, heartless and unjust rule of the Israeli military. A large percentage of the people are malnourished, medicine and health care for conditions outside of household injuries are largely unavailable, and they are being purposely prevented from re-building houses and schools and hospitals that were destroyed most recently in 2008.
Israel blocks chocolate, coriander, and concrete from entering Gaza, among other things. But strangely, we find that Gazans are making do. How are "illegal" and prohibited goods getting into Gaza, in spite of every effort to seal the entry points and starve down the population? As in every government-mandated prohibition, rules and restrictions simply raise the risk, raise the price, raise the incentive and encourage the marketplace to get creative in meeting the needs of people. Government mandates and restrictions always end up hurting the poor, and the Israeli government (as does our own) understands this well. The poor don't vote, they don't donate to campaigns, they rarely march, and they tend to have no true friends in high places. They are the real survivalists, not by choice, but by circumstance.
As Israel is increasingly the North Korea of the Middle East, Gaza is perhaps the Harrison Bergeron of our modern era. Sadly, Harrison's destruction is the aim of the Handicapper General, just as a wholesale and final destruction of Gazan society and economy is clearly the Israeli government objective. The small strip of desert, once a food exporter has been made a modern concentration camp, not unlike the fantastical case of Manhattan in the dystopian Escape from New York.
How a people, even a small remnant, can survive, and perhaps retain their humanity and their culture in the face of a totalitarian state bent on its suppression, its demonization, and its elimination is a very interesting story. The Gazans may not succeed. Their attempt to assert their interests politically resulted in election of Hamas, giving Israel even more "justification" for their state of war against this already impoverished and constrained entity. The Gazans have been made to rely on charity, and Israeli practice has been to condemn them further when they accept it from Israel's "enemies."
Gaza's continued existence, living on the edge, refusing to die and refusing to surrender in the face of angry Israeli state domination is, in itself, instructive. Americans who are alarmed at our own growing surveillance and lock-down state, endless war abroad, legalized murder of American citizens at the whim of a sitting President, continued contraction of liberty and a future of massive government-induced poverty really ought to take a look at how the Gazans live and cope. Their story informs our story. The rest of the world recognizes that the United States is directly culpable in the subjection and starvation of Gazans. It's politics and money, the power of the Israel lobby, yadda, yadda, yadda. But for Americans who dream of a future of liberty, prosperity and peace — it shows exactly what our current government is capable of doing in the name of its own survival.
June 5, 2010
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, writes defense issues with a libertarian perspective Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page.
Copyright © 2010 Karen Kwiatkowski