Whenever I think of Gaza it is usually with a smile on my face because the Palestinians there are among the most dignified and generous spirited people I’ve ever met.
Each journey to Gaza, whether breaking the siege by land or sea, is always made with trepidation but the hospitality on arrival is guaranteed to melt away the anxieties and fears of making such hazardous journeys.
But once I reach the tiny little enclave nestling on the lip of the Mediterranean rim, I know I’m relatively safe and among friends. Sadly, safe is not a word you can use these days anywhere on the Gaza Strip because of the repugnant behaviour of the war criminals living next door.
Words have failed me over the last two weeks as I’ve watched the images unfold on television, received phone calls from forlorn Palestinian friends living inside and frantic messages from friends who feel helpless, hopeless and in despair.
The death toll is now heading towards 200 as Israel threatens to intensify its brutal onslaught. Be not in any doubt … sending Hellfire missiles, tank shells and other bombs into heavily populated civilian areas constitutes a crime against humanity.
Meanwhile American, British and other western leaders look on dumbstruck revealing themselves to be weak and incapable of exerting any influence on out-of-control Israel. And while the rest of the political world wrestles with its conscience millions of ordinary people wonder why their leaders are useless.
And then there’s the media. The BBC has managed to plumb new depths by sanitising the cold blooded massacre of Palestinians who it says are waging a war of terror on ‘poor little Israel’ with its Hamas rockets that have dinted nothing but Israeli pride as a few penetrate the so-called impenetrable Iron Dome defence shield.
While the BBC has shamelessly portrayed Israel as the only victim, Fox News and Canada’s CBC have gone one step further – unable to show any bombed out buildings in Israel they’ve used images from Gaza portraying them as being inside the Zionist State.
Perhaps the media should re-read the new terror laws in the UK because glorifying terrorism is indeed a crime and those waging terror on the Palestinians in Gaza wear the Israeli military uniform. Some BBC licence payers have told me they are going to cancel their payments to the BBC to avoid being accused of giving material support to terrorists and their supporters.
Over in Tel Aviv, the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, tries to justify the disproportionate actions of the Israeli military claiming no “civilized democracy” would put up with the Hamas rockets and would react exactly the same way as Israel. Comparisons were made about how we would react if London was bombed. Really? What planet is this man living on?
Well London has been bombed and attacked on several occasions in recent times and so has Manchester and Birmingham and other British towns and cities.
Who remembers 30 years of terrorism which saw civilians being blown to bits … more than 1800 paid the blood price of so-called Irish terror. I don’t recall cruise missiles being sent down the Falls Road in Belfast.
Less than a decade ago we had the notorious July 7 bombing campaign targeting London’s transport system killing more than 30 and injuring 700 others. It emerged very quickly who was responsible but I don’t recall West Yorkshire, home of the four bombers, being blitzed or their family homes being flattened by bulldozers.
I don’t recall collective punishment or house demolitions in the North West or anywhere in Ireland.
Of course no where in Britain is there a festering ghetto containing 1.5m people, more than half children, living in the most wretched conditions that even British PM David Cameron likened to an open prison.
The late, great Nelson Mandela saw Israel for what it was decades ago when he said: “If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.”
We must use his words to inspire and put into action. This Saturday many groups in Britain have come together to organize what promises to be the largest ever demonstration in support of the people of Gaza.
On top of that thousands have already protested outside BBC offices nationwide over its impartial coverage supporting Israel – this brand of journalism from a publicly funded organization is unacceptable and the public reaction from licence fee payers is now being felt by the corporation.
Come the next General Election the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour Party should be made to pay for the actions of their leaders Cameron, Nick Clegg and David Miliband who’ve stood by silently and watched the massacre of the women and children of Gaza … for they number largest in the casualties.
If you are going to support a politician make him or her sign a declaration of unwavering support to the people of Gaza and Palestine and if they’ve already signed up to Friends of Israel don’t vote for them.
Even when bombs and shells aren’t raining down on Gaza, life is anything but normal. This video by the amazing Jewish human rights group B’tselem shows how Israel’s apartheid policies can change someone’s life forever in under 60 seconds:
Orthodox Jews and rabbis from the Neturei Karta movement held a demonstration in New York’s large Jewish community in support of the people of Gaza while other Jewish organizations around the world have rallied in support.
Even Jewish Israelis, sickened by the unrelenting onslaught by F16 fighter jets, Apache Attack helicopters, Naval gunships, tanks and other artillery are protesting and demonstrating against the Zionist State’s criminal actions.
On July 12, a group called Jews Against Genocide (JAG) held a memorial service for Palestinian children killed by Israel in its current attack on Gaza. JAG set aflame to a pile of dolls covered in red paint at Yad Vashem, Israel’s holocaust memorial museum.
Jews Against Genocide (JAG) is a movement of Jews from all over the world, including Israelis, who are protesting against Israel’s intent to commit genocide against the non-Jewish indigenous people of Palestine.
This Saturday it is vitally important you turn up outside Downing Street at 12 noon where Stop the War coalition and its supporters will rally for Gaza before marching on the Israeli Embassy. We need to make sure each and every one of us who believes in humanity and justice turns up to let the politicians see we will not, like them, be cowed or be afraid of the Zionist State.
I will finish with the words of a tireless fighter for equality, justice and peace, Bishop Desmond Tutu. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
And don’t forget this Saturday – join me on the rally for Gaza. You don’t have to be a Muslim to support Palestine – just human.
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