American Jews have abandoned Gaza — and the truth

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(photo: Getty Images)

Israel controls Gaza in the way a prison guard might control a prison courtyard in which he never actually sets foot.

By Peter Beinart | Forward | Apr 26, 2018


The struggle for human decency, Orwell argued, is also a struggle for honest language. Our community’s complicity in the human nightmare in Gaza should fill every American Jew with shame. The first step toward ending that complicity is to stop lying to ourselves.


“In our time,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.” British colonialism, the Soviet gulag and America’s dropping of an atomic bomb, he argued, “can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face.” So how do people defend the indefensible? Through “euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” By obscuring the truth.

So it is, more than 70 years later, with Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip. The truth is too brutal to honestly defend. Why are thousands of Palestinians risking their lives by running toward the Israeli snipers who guard the fence that encloses Gaza? Because Gaza is becoming uninhabitable. That’s not hyperbole. The United Nations says that Gaza will be “unlivable” by 2020, maybe sooner.

Hamas bears some of the blame for that: Its refusal to recognize Israel, its decades of terrorist attacks and its authoritarianism have all worsened Gaza’s plight. Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority bears some of the blame too. So does Egypt.

But the actor with the greatest power over Gaza is Israel. Israeli policies are instrumental in denying Gaza’s people the water, electricity, education and food they need to live decent lives.

Continue reading “American Jews have abandoned Gaza — and the truth”

“1984” in Israel and Palestine

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Nablus, 1990. (photo: Alex Levac)

We must get the Israeli public to recognize this basic human truth: Occupation by a foreign government cannot be a substitute for sovereignty, just as slavery isn’t freedom, war isn’t peace and ignorance isn’t strength.

By Dmitry Shumsky / Haaretz / July 13, 2017


A Palestinian state that faithfully reflects the national yearnings of all parts of the Palestinian people, which deserves national freedom like any other people  . . . will only come about with the end of the Israeli occupation and liquidation of the lion’s share of the settlement enterprise.


In one of the most trenchant articles ever written here against the occupation, Prof. Shlomo Avineri wrote that any denials of the fundamental fact that Palestinian residents of the territories — who have been under Israel’s direct or indirect control since 1967 — are under Israeli occupation “recall George Orwell’s book ‘1984,’ in which the government declares that slavery is freedom, war is peace and ignorance is strength” (Haaretz Hebrew Edition, March 17).

A recent op-ed by former Defense Minister Moshe Arens (“Gaza, a failed Palestinian state,” June 26), which claimed that the Gaza Strip is a “sovereign Palestinian state,” is clear confirmation of Avineri’s diagnosis.

Continue reading ““1984” in Israel and Palestine”