Saturday, November 8, 2008

When economy kills

Ma'an news agency reported from Palestine, that Mahmoud Abbas and other members of the Fatah party, entered Egypt this week through the Rafah Crossing to attend a preliminary Palestinian national dialogue meeting. Earlier in the week, it had been announced that Egypt would open the crossing for up to three days to allow Palestinians to come through the crossing, and receive medical care. It was not clear whether Abbas and company took advantage of the three day opening, or whether Egypt had made special arrangements for Fatah . Just months earlier, Egypt had denied a delegation of its own people the right to use the Rafah crossing to deliver much needed humanitarian aide to the Gaza Strip.

Looking at the picture of very well dressed, and well fed men, walking casually across the border from Palestine into Egypt, might cause readers to ask themselves “why” if it is so easy to open the crossing, and to allow people to move freely back and forth, are 1.5 million Palestinians being denied passage, and remain prisoners in the Gaza Strip, victims of an illegal US/Israeli/Egyptian economic siege? “Why” are food, medical supplies, and other items essential for normal life, being denied entry into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, yet Abbas and his Fatah colleagues are allowed unfettered passage?

The closure of Rafah crossing is only one of the many injustices presently being imposed upon the people of Gaza and the West bank by the US, Israel, Egypt and Fatah. Other countries, along with the EU have condemned the siege and have called for an end to the inhumane psychological and physical torture that results from deprivation of food and medicines. The siege was imposed originally to punish the Palestinians for electing Hamas to lead the Palestinian legislative council, and to pressure Hamas into abandoning the role it plays as the de facto government in the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian official admitted recently that Egypt's closure of Rafah crossing is also aimed at denying Hamas legitimacy. That is a fancy way of saying that Egypt is helping to starve and torture 1.5 million people because it wants to cancel the outcome of a democratic, legal and legitimate elections process.

To seal the Palestinians inside Gaza, and to deny them freedom of movement, and also food, and other life sustaining items is criminal. It is reminiscent of the illegal economic embargo that was placed upon Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion and subsequent war. Approximately 600,000 Iraqi children were allowed to die as a result of those sanctions, many from curable and treatable diseases. The Clinton administration oversaw that deliberate war crime, and when asked if the deaths of so many innocent children was worth the toppling of the Hussein government, then Secretary of State Madeline Albright answered that it was worth it. She said that regime change in Iraq was worth the lives of 600,000 Iraqi children. Today, the US, Israel and Egypt are telling us that the deaths of 255 Palestinians and the torture by deprivation of necessary food and medical supplies, and psychological distress of 1.5 million Palestinians is worth it, if it leads to Hamas being forced from power, and people being discouraged from supporting or electing Islamic movements. Is that a war on Islam?

Predictably, the US media does not mention the Gaza economic siege. The US media will not report on the 255 deaths in Gaza, caused by our government's despicable and criminal foreign policy, just as they would not report on the 600,000 Iraqi children killed by economic sanctions in Iraq, or the over 1 million innocent Iraqis that have been murdered in order to accomplish regime change and to destroy Iraq.

What is most disturbing about the use of economy to kill and to coerce political outcomes, is that it is an indiscriminate way to kill that is both unjust and immoral. It is a weapon of mass destruction. It is a way to kill, and to maim and to hurt and psychologically torture that bears no obvious expense, except life, and the cost that we pay when our moral compasses are broken by sin and shame, and our respect for the law is eroded by such a strong and demonic lust for power and control that we can kill innocents, hoping to make a political point. Keep in mind that no one is hurting us. No one is attacking us, and no one is threatening us. The illegal economic siege on Gaza is an economic war of choice and convenience. Something that we do, simply because we can.

It's ironic that the West is now experiencing an economic melt down of its own. The “crisis” as they call it was brought about by our own greed, and fraud. It may also be the result of our willingness to use economy to kill others. Was it worth it? Only time and history will tell.

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