Bibi spins on CNN while Gaza continues to burn

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to CNN and lies by saying his country lifted all the restrictions on Gaza (truth here) and the left is now working with radical Islamists to bring down the Zionist state. Ah, Bibi, I’m sure the Zionist lobby still loves you but nobody else accepts your delusions and occupying mindset. You’re actively contributing to the end of Israel, a handy method of delegitimising yourself out of existence.

Meanwhile, back in reality, Gaza expert Sara Roy writes that the revolutions sweeping the Arab world will come to Palestine and Gaza won’t be immune:

For the U.S. government and media, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been treated as a stepchild of sorts to the revolutionary events sweeping the Middle East. This was clarified to me recently by a prominent American journalist who confided he was unable to report on Israel/Palestine because “they’re just too far from the news right now.”

Gaza certainly continues to be ignored. Yet on the evening of March 14–one day earlier than planned–2,000 Palestinian youth and numerous civil society organizations gathered in a square in the middle of Gaza City calling on Hamas and Fatah to end their divisions and restore democracy in Palestine. Yesterday, March 15, thousands of people protested on the streets of Gaza, including young Hamas supporters, small groups loyal to Fatah and other small Palestinian factions, as well as Facebook activists. In Ramallah, some 8,000 demonstrators, the majority of whom were university students and young people, marched through Al Manara Square demanding national unity. Gazans are seeing their protests move to cities in the West Bank, creating a coordinated and strengthened movement.

More importantly, given the changing political landscape in neighboring Egypt, Gaza’s strategic importance may become even more vital for regional security. There are emerging indications in policy circles that the Egypt-Gaza relationship and how it may evolve are far more worrisome to the U.S. and Israel than is publicly acknowledged.

Gaza’s importance was already strikingly demonstrated in a December 2007 Wikileaks cable written and classified by then US Ambassador to Egypt, Francis J. Ricciardone. Entitled “Repairing Egyptian-Israeli Communications,” it reveals: “[T]he Egyptians continue to offer excuses for the problem they face: the need to ”˜squeeze’ Hamas, while avoiding being seen as complicit in Israel’s ”˜siege’ of Gaza. Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Soliman told us Egypt wants Gaza to go ”˜hungry’ but not ”˜starve.'”

Although Arabs waging revolutions may not now be protesting Palestinian conditions, their subjugation shall remain at the center of the discourse despite the preferences of U.S. policymakers and journalists. Israel’s occupation may seem exceptional to current events but this will not last because the struggle for democracy in the Arab world will not stop at Gaza’s (or Israel’s) border.

There is no doubt that the same Arab people who are fighting for freedom in their own countries will challenge the immoral situation in Palestine, especially in Gaza, and ask: How can a predominantly young population, desperately willing and able to work, be made dependent on handouts? And there is equally no doubt that Palestinians will no longer accept their continued impoverishment and decline.

Although popular demands for reconciliation, democracy and ultimately an end to occupation will depend for their success on support from the Hamas and Fayyad governments, the role of the international community is absolutely crucial: it must facilitate an end to the crippling siege of Gaza — citizens from all around the world will again attempt this May to break the blockade with the next Gaza freedom flotilla — and meaningfully work toward the creation of a Palestinian unity government.

The power balance in the region is slowly but inexorably shifting in a manner that does not favor US-Israel dominance (with its acceptance and legitimizing of Israeli occupation and Palestinian dispossession). It is the Arab people — not their regimes — who have always supported Palestinian rights, and they may soon be in a position to insist on them. So, too, will Palestinians.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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