Mandy Hager’s Column

Israel’s ‘atrocious violations’ of human rights in Gaza

By Mandy Hager

With the festering situation in the Middle East one of the main drivers of global extremism, it’s time we were able to talk about it without being accused of anti-Semitism. The situation, even here is NZ, is so extreme that no-one can even mention the myriad human rights violations being imposed on the poor civilians of Gaza and the West Bank without rabid accusations of being anti Jew.

Let’s get this right up front: my father’s family fled Vienna because of their Jewish heritage – and most of those not able to were killed in Hitler’s holocaust.

What Hitler and his cronies did disgusts me more than I can possibly articulate, just like it disgusts me when anyone mistreats their fellow human beings. I get how bad it was. I get that the Jewish people wanted somewhere they could settle and call ‘home’; where they could feel safe. I also get that they historically feel put upon and that they have good reason to — there can be nothing more terrifying than living with the threat of random terrorist attacks.

Israeli hawks ‘hoodwink’ supporters

But what I don’t get is how the hawks controlling Israel have hoodwinked their supporters into sanctioning their own atrocious violations of others’ human rights. Israel has been cited for over 67 violations of the Geneva Convention – and have systematically pushed out their boundaries by force, despite the fact they voluntarily agreed to these in 1948.

And in the process they have dispossessed and radicalised literally tens of thousands (probably millions) of ordinary Arabs, who feel they have as much stake on the land – if not more. And yes, I’ll stick my neck out here and say what many others must be thinking: sorry, but Israel has brought this latest round of terror (and many other similar situations) on itself.

You cannot bulldoze people’s homes, cut off their links to ancestral homes and families, kill their children, restrict movement and treat a whole people like lesser beings, without those people fighting back.

Come on – this is exactly what happened in South Africa: the underdog was labelled terrorist and criminal until the world spoke up – and look how we revere people like Mandela now. For god’s sake, it’s what happened to the Jews! How the hell else are people supposed to resist the erosion of their conditions and their human rights, when the rest of the world turns a blind eye or refuses to get involved for fear of pissing someone off?

Let’s look at some facts

Let’s look at some facts from Aavaz (an organisation with nearly 17 milllion members worldwide to hold them to account) to sharpen the perspective here:

  • There are 1.6 million people stuffed into Gaza — that’s over 4,500 packed into every square kilometre — making it one of the most densely populated places on the planet.
  • 66% of these are refugees (and guess who caused it?)
  • 58% of their young people are unemployed
  • 80% live on less than $2 per day
  • 10% of Gaza’s children are stunted from malnutrition
  • 20% of children suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • 100% of them are trapped.
  • The 2008-09 Israeli operations there left 50,000 homeless — and in this latest round they had a damn good crack at screwing any infrastructure still intact.

Now let’s look at how much the US State Department hands over to Israel in Foreign Military Financing:

US Defence Industry Benefits

Kind of shocking, huh? But the awful truth is that the real winner isn’t even Israel here, which continues to suffer attacks as well as launch them. It’s the US defence industry. The US gives billions to Israel, which in turn spends the cash on buying arms from US manufacturers, purchasing the US-made bullets and bombs that are then used to kill and maim men, women and children in Palestine – and so perpetuate the circle of hatred and violence.

The same on the other side can be said for Hezbollah, Iran and other military backers of Hamas and Palestinian militant groups.[i]

I think this is what disgusts me most: what’s talked about as ideological religious differences isn’t even that. It’s cynical game-playing by other powers. And, meanwhile, kids get slaughtered, or grow up in the cult of fear and hate… perpetuating the whole bloody cycle — on and on…

So I’m not going to bow down to fear of questions over my allegiances — I’m going to stand up against greed and hate. And if you want to call me anti-Semitic go ahead. I know it’s not the truth, and I refuse to give in to your emotional blackmail to shut me up.