“Do not hold the delusion that your advancement is accomplished by crushing others.”(Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C.)
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” (Dante, c1265-1321)
One of the haunting images of Jewish heroism, lauded in history books and Holocaust commemorations, is the courage of the Jews, especially the young, who were herded into the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazis in 1940. The courage of those who dug tunnels, smuggled goods necessary for survival, and managed two-way communications, is legendary; rightly so. It was an incredible act of resistance, showing defiance in the shadow of tyranny and repression.
The people of Gaza (roughly 75 per cent of whom are aged under twenty-five) are suffering – even to the extent of having their natural spring water stolen – at the hands of those to whom James Arthur Balfour promised “the establishment of a home in Palestine for the Jewish people… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” The emphasis is mine, because that part of the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917 is ignored by apologists for Israel.
The Jews of Warsaw were contained in their enclave by a wall up to three metres high. The people of Gaza and the West Bank, ironically, are contained more or less by a wall eleven metres high, twice the height of the Berlin Wall.
The Palestinians have had their land, homes, even cemeteries stolen and destroyed; their ancient olive groves – some trees were 1,000 years old – burned or stolen to grace illegal settlements; their people spat at, imprisoned, tortured, bombed and walled-in; and are now near land-locked by Israel’s maritime aggression within Gaza’s territorial waters. Fishermen are denied unfettered access to their bountiful fish stocks, on pain of attack by Israeli gun boats.
Gaza, especially since 2000, has become to all intents and purposes a sunnier Warsaw Ghetto. Imports are either strictly controlled or totally prohibited by Israel, so tunnels link Gaza with Egypt. Eighty-two people have died constructing these “lifelines”, losing their lives “in the cold, often trapped and suffocating under water or collapsing walls of dirt and concrete”. Descriptions of their 24/7 desperation have been captured graphically by Hyam Noir and Fady Adwan.
Goods brought through the tunnels, as in Nazi-occupied Warsaw seventy years ago, are life’s necessities for survival and include medicines, food, clothes, vital spare parts and foreign currency.
World governments either collude with this ongoing humanitarian tragedy and legal shame, or simply ignore Gaza’s plight. That Balfour stated clearly that the Jewish people were to be guests in Palestine, not jailers and conquerors, has been ignored from, literally, day one of the Israeli project. For trying to resist the occupation of their land and the stifling siege, the rightful residents of Palestine are called terrorists: shame on every politician of each and every country which colludes with or ignores this ongoing obscenity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.