Monday, November 1, 2010

Israel is a shocking Occupier of Gaza

Israel is accused of ‘occupation’. The terms ‘Occupation’, ‘Occupiers’ and ‘Colonisers’ are widely used when addressing the long-standing war between Israel and the Palestinians over disputed territories.

The disputed territories (particulalry the 'West Bank') are the subject of ongoing peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We pray for a peaceful resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict, where both Palestinians and Israelis live, and thrive, in peace

But what about the Gaza Strip. What's going on with that 'occupation'?

Colonisation involves the assimilation of the indigenous population or/and the conversion of the indigenous culture to the culture of the colonizers.

Let’s look for a moment at that concept of occupation and colonization. Let’s take a look at several occupations and colonisations of relatively recent history

The British occupied and colonized the United States. They imposed British law and the English language. And then, most of the local, Indian population, got wiped out by the new immigrants

The Portuguese occupied and colonized Mozambique. They imposed Portuguese law on the indigenous population, made sure that most converted, and made them speak Portuguese too

The French occupied Morocco, imposed French law and the French language on the mostly Arabic, Muslim Population. The same happened in Algeria

The British occupied India. They imposed British law, and made English an official language within the mostly Hindi speaking country

The white, Afrikaans led apartheid regime, imposed Afrikaans on the South African black population. Through subjugation, the National Party enforced bantu education. Bantu education was aimed at controlling the local population’s mind, sources of educational material, and freedom. It was aimed at creating a new history, one where the local population’s languages and cultural identities would be eroded, so that the National Party’s agenda would be furthered, with limited resistance

All nations protect their borders and Israel has indeed protected its borders in an effort to limit attacks from Gaza. Without a doubt, movement for Gazans into Israel has been curtailed. But so has movement of Gazans into Egypt. Neither Israel nor Egypt want to jeopardize their security. The issue of cross-border restriction of movement has more to do with Hamas’ intention than Israel’s ‘apartheid style tactics’.

Egypt has never accused of being an ‘apartheid state’, and ‘occupier’ or a ‘coloniser’ when it too restricts movements of Gazans into Egypt, in an effort to protect its citizens.

Why is Egypt not called an ‘occupier’? Because everybody knows that Egypt is not ‘occupying’ the Gaza strip, it’s merely protecting its borders… and it’s citizens

Egypt does not ‘occupy’ the Gaza strip

Protection of a nation state’s border does not define ‘occupation’ or ‘colonisation’

Restrictions of cross-border movement is legitimate, and practiced across the world. In South Africa, there are border control posts between South Africa and ALL it’s neighbouring countries

Gaza is controlled by Hamas (not Israel). Arabic is the official language (not Hebrew). Islam is the official religion (not Judaism).

School text books (which include calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of innocents) are used in the public school system. Freedom of the press is curtailed. Journalists are imprisoned. Suspected traitors are executed. Women are not regarded as equals within civil society, and do not share equal rights. Gays and Lesbians are tortured, and some get murdered/executed. Family honour killings are tacitly encouraged. Political prisoners and prisoners of war do not have access to the Red Cross.

Israel is a democratic state. It guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of the press, equality of the sexes, rights for Gays and Lesbians. All holy sites, for all religions, are protected by the state. Religious freedom is enshrined in, and upheld by, the law. Women have the vote. Gays have parades. Jewish schools teach in Hebrew and the curriculum includes Jewish studies. Muslim Arab schools teach in Arabic and the curriculum includes Muslim studies. Yeshivahs flourish for those wanting to engage in intense study of the Torah and other Jewish texts. Madrassahs flourish for those wanting to engage in intense study of the Koran and other Islamic religious texts. Muslims, Christians and Jews practice their faiths openly and freely. Muslims have Mosques (including one on Judaism’s holiest site), and Muslim worship is protected under Israeli law. Christians have churches (including many in Judaism’s holiest city), and Christian worship is protected under Israeli law. There is freedom of association and all people, religions, races and creeds are protected, as equals, by Israeli law. Political prisoners, including those militants that Israel calls ‘terrorists’, have access to legal aid, the Red Cross and humanitarian organisations

If Israel were ‘successful’ occupiers and colonisers, they would impose their laws and way of life on the occupied population. Israel would have assimilated the indigenous Gazan population or Israel would have converted the indigenous Gazan population to Israeli culture.

This is what all ‘successful’ occupiers and colonisers have done.

Hamas would not control Gaza. There would be freedom of the press in Gaza. Jews would have synagogues. Journalists would be respected and free to report (and opine) on what they see (and believe in). There would be freedom of association. Political opposition would be encouraged. Gays and Lesbians would be able to freely express their love without the threat of torture or murder. Young women would not have to fear family honour killings for getting into relationships that their families, or the political leadership, do not approve of. Prisoners would have access to legal aid, the Red Cross and humanitarian organizations.

To those who continue to despise Israel for its ruthless 'occupation' of Gaza...

Fear not....

As an ‘Occupier’ and ‘Coloniser’ of Palestinians in the Gaza strip, Israel has clearly failed