GUEST BLOG: Lois Griffiths – GRANDMOTHERS, LITTLE BROTHERS, BABY SISTERS

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“It didn’t happen! Even while it was happening, it didn’t happen!”

That’s how playwright Harold Pinter years ago  described mainstream  media’s coverage of the Viet Nam war.

The same could  be said of mainsteam media’s coverage of the  bombing of Gaza. 

Israel  has spent August  regularly bombing Gaza,… a school here, farmland there.. 

Israel has shut down Gaza’s access to fuel needed for electricity  ,  stopped Gazans from fishing. 

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Medical facilities in Gaza were unable to cope before COVID-19. Medical supplies are less than minimal. Public water is unsafe.

COVID-19 is in Gaza. 

The legal definition of genocide by the way, includes having the ‘intent’ to destroy a people. 

What is the intent of the Israeli regime?

For that matter, why do they do it? 

The Israeli regime will say that they are just ‘responding’ to incendiary balloons from Gaza. Just responding, ie, it’s the Palestinians’ fault, serves them right.

This is the line accepted unquestioningly by mainstream media. 

No media would dare suggest that maybe the incendiary kites, which have caused no deaths, are a ‘response ‘ , say, to Israel’s barbaric siege. 

NO! NO! NO!  Palestinians are not allowed to ‘respond’. 

The bombing goes on and on. Why doesn’t it stop? Ramzy Baroud of Palestine Chronicle suggests that as Netanyahu and Gantz are in a political struggle, neither dares risk being branded as ‘weak’ by calling for a halt to the bombing.

And why does the outside world not object?

Some do actually. 

Quoting from the jewishvoiceforpeace site:

(March 30, 2020) — Over 30,000 people from around the world gathered online through Zoom (500) and Facebook (30,000 views) for a virtual rally to End the Blockade on Gaza. Palestinian speakers across three continents, from the occupied West Bank and Gaza, in the U.K. and the U.S., described conditions on the ground right now in Gaza, as the coronavirus continues to spread in one of the most vulnerable places on earth. 

That was 5 months ago. Yet the bombing continues

As far as mainstream mdia is concerned , this large rally ‘didn’t happen’. 

In May of this year, more than 250 global artists and writers , including Naomi Klein and  Ken Loach, appealed to Israel to stop the “siege” of Gaza, saying the coronavirus epidemic could have a devastating effect in “the world’s largest open-air prison”.

“Long before the global outbreak of COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm the already devastated healthcare system in Gaza, the UN had predicted the blockaded coastal strip would be unlivable by 2020,” the online letter said.

“With the pandemic, Gaza’s almost two million inhabitants, predominantly refugees, face a mortal threat in the world’s largest open-air prison.”

A couple of years ago, I wrote  for the Green Party magazine, the following review of the book , NO WAY BUT THIS, In Search of  Paul Robeson  by Jeff Sparrow.  

Jeff Sparrow describes working in a trade union bookshop in Melbourne where book collections belonging to  decreased unionists, peace actvists, an  “aging generation of progressives”, “stalwarts of the Old Left”, ended up. “They’d read so very, very widely”. “There were always, always, books about Paul Robeson. “

An avid reader himself, Sparrow became fascinated by Robeson , the son of a slave who became a superstar singer and actor, advocate for the oppressed, foe of racism and fascism , only to be destroyed,  ‘disappeared’, from public life.

Sparrow knew that the African-American singer had come  to Sydney, when the Opera House was under construction, to sing  to the workers  his most famous song, Old Man River.

Sparrow decided to travel , to learn more about Robeson’s background, ie, the politics and social structures that influenced him, as well as  the poets and other writers of his time. Sparrow’s investigations took him  to North Carolina, to Philadephia , to Harlem, to  England , to Wales , to Spain and to Russia.   

Robeson became active in Welsh union politics after hearing unemployed poverty-stricken miners singing in beautiful harmony. Robeson realised that music meant as much to the miners as it did to African-Americans. 

But it was the Spanish Civil War that had the strongest influence on Robeson. He explained, “ The artist must take sides. He must choose to fight for freedom or slavery.”  Trade unionists, as well as writers including WH Auden and George Orwell , feared that fascism would spread further if not  stopped in Spain.

Paul Robeson  maintained that  for the rest of his life, Spain had  altered him.

I strongly recommend No Way But This. It is very readable, hard to put down actually. And it raises questions. Why is it that the suffering of the Spanish raised so much passion at the time, that civilians volunteered to go to Spain?  Why were people  horror-stricken  at the of bombing of civilians, barbarity illustrated by Picasso’s Guernica?  Yet today high tech bombing of civilians is of little concern. What has happened to humanity?

The questions I asked at the end of my book review,  still haunt me. 

The Spanish Civil War wasn’t that long ago historically. Have present generations  become indifferent to warfare and  bombing? Have we lost our sense of humanity? That’s a frightening thought.

Please let’s, all of us, demand that our  religious, academic, media and political elite join us  and refuse to look the other way. Every bomb dropping on Gaza is falling  on men, women and children….grandmothers, little brothers, baby sisters. 

“It is happening!

If we have any sense of humanity left, we need to mentally  paraphase Arundhati Roy’s comment re the war on  Iraq.

We need to believe that “Every Gazan child is our child.” 

Lois Griffiths is a human rights activist.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Please let’s, all of us, demand that our religious, academic, media and political elite join us and refuse to look the other way.

    This Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, at 12 Noon!
    In Wellington, on the steps of Parliament.

    Every Media Outlet in Aotearoa NZ should have a representative here at this time.
    So, TVNZ, Who are you sending to cover this?
    Radio NZ, Who is your representative?
    The Herald, WHO are you sending? (Or are you choosing to look away???)
    STUFF News: Who is your rep to cover this?
    NEWSROOM, You will have someone here won’t you?
    SCOOP: Are you just going to wait for someone’s “Press Release”? Or be here on the spot?
    Newshub, Are you going to do what you do best and RUN after every single politician asking, “WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THIS?”
    Anyone else with any pretensions to being a part of “NZ Media”, HERE is YOUR CHANCE to prove that.

    Or is it a case of “Let’s all play, ‘Nothing to see here, folks’ “.

  2. Israel is targeting Hamas infrastructure in Gaza because Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Strip, is targeting Israeli civilians with rockets, mortars and incendiary balloons carrying explosive devices. Even so, Israel continues to truck in humanitarian supplies to Gaza every day. No other country in the world would display this humanity towards people hell bent on destroying them. Your agenda of course is the same, which explains why you have no humanity towards Israeli targets, men, women and kids, of this murderous barrage. Israel left Gaza in 2005 and Hamas have waged a terrorist war ever since. Believing they can ever defeat Israel shows how stupid they are and how they care nothing for their people, while israel protects hers. The recent Israel/UAE pact has recalibrated the ME and shown that the Palestinians and their violent rejectionism are irrelevant.

    • So Gaby okay to target schools that is justified.. Your arrogance beggars belief

      I look forward to seeing what happens with the endless unjustified bombings by the Zionists once the international criminal court starts their investigation.

    • Hamas is a duly elected Representative Govt of the Palestinian People who own the whole areas of land they held pre 1945.
      The terrorists are the interlopers from many parts of the world led by Zionists.

          • They won by a narrow margin and then murdered most of their Fatah opponents in a vicious coup, expelling the rest to the West Bank. As per usual, you omit vital context. Thank you for confirming that the people of Gaza elected the thugs who now make their lives a misery, force their kids to dig terror tunnels (many have died), and use them as human shields. Hoist by your own petard.

    • Incendiary balloons have never killed anyone. They have even been labelled weapons of grass destruction because thats about the level of their ability to take life.
      So why do they launch these balloons?

      “In the words of Ahmed Abu Artema, a writer who lives in Gaza and organizer of the Great March of Return,

      These youths, crushed by the Israeli occupation and deprived of their fundamental rights, still feel the urge to scream at their jailers. They want to make noise so that they do not die in silence.”

      https://www.mintpressnews.com/decades-land-theft-betray-israel-terror-balloon-justification-for-gaza-war/270819/

      When was the last Israeli killed by rockets coming out of Gaza? 15 months ago. So death and destruction meted out on Palestinians for setting fire to some bits of grass as a protest against the racism and vitriolic hatred directed at them by people of a mindset like our dear friend Gaby. Blind, seething hatred of a type that makes you wonder what has made them see the world through such a red tinted lens. At present supporters such as Gaby are left having to invent fantasies to try to account for IDF brutality and criminality

  3. The essential thing that is being asked by those within the genocidal prison that Gaza has become is that someone somewhere stands up and says, “THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!!

    That is all that is asked, in the first instance!

    Do you, whoever you are reading this, think that what is happening in Gaza today is okay?

    If not, then NOW is the time to speak out and bloody SAY SO!!

    Because that is what they are asking for, first and foremost. Just use the one means that you have to express what you think or feel about this, and answer the question, “IS THIS OKAY?”

  4. This tweet by Palestinian journalist Aya Isleem encapsulates what it is like right now: Gaza 29th August 2020
    @AyaIsleemEn

    (If it doesn’t open the first time, just pause, refresh and try again.
    Double click on the pic to really see it.)

  5. A beautiful and profoundly decent plea for all of us to protect The lives of Palestinian families trapped in the Israeli-made death camp – Gaza

  6. From the Palestinian Chronicle Live Blog, Monday 1st September 2020:

    The Palestinian Hamas movement declared on Monday that it has reached an ‘understanding’ to contain the Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip. The agreement seems to have been the outcome of intense Qatari diplomacy in recent days.

    Israel has bombed besieged Gaza on a nightly basis for over two weeks, shutting down Gaza’s access to the sea and sealing off the Karem Abu Salem Crossing, which provided the 2 million population of Gaza with urgent supplies.

    Israel has justified its bombardment as a response to the releasing of incendiary balloons by Gaza protesters, which, according to Israeli sources, have ignited several fires in agricultural land.

    Several Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli attacks, including children.

    Palestine Chronicle correspondent in Gaza Wafaa Aludaini summarized the main points of the Hamas-Israel ‘understanding’ as follow:

    – The Israeli army will cease its bombardment of Gaza and Palestinian protesters will halt the launch of incendiary balloons towards Israel;

    – Israel will allow the establishment of several economic projects in Gaza, which will directly contribute to the alleviation of economic hardship in the besieged Strip;

    – Israel will allow fuel supplies to reach Gaza in order to operate the Strip’s only power plant;

    – The fishing zone will be reopened again;

    – Urgently needed medical equipment and supplies will be allowed to reach Gaza as part of its efforts to confront the spread of COVID-19 disease.
    The Palestine Chronicle Live Blog

    • By standing together for the Palestinians, this is one small way of saying, “We are with you. We are watching to see that the ‘understanding’ is adhered to. We, too, are awaiting the arrival of fuel so that electricity can again be supplied to the medics and those trying to save lives, and the arrival of those essential medical and food supplies. There must be urgent action on this.”

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