By James M. Wall*
Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump have one thing in common: They both have as much credibility as the man who killed his parents and then begged the judge for mercy because he was an orphan.
Why should we believe what they say? President Trump is an accomplished prevaricator in a job he is clearly not qualified to hold.
But we know that already.
What concerns me at the moment is the way in which Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu follows the classic colonial playbook by living a lie and inducing the colonized to fight among themselves.
The current internal Palestinian conflict involves a severe drop in medical care and adequate electrical power in Gaza, two essential elements which must be provided for a civilian population.
Instead of providing, Bibi Netanyahu greatly reduces these elements from Gaza and then lies that he is not to blame. The harsh truth is that Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza for fifty years.
Occupiers are responsible for the occupied whether for one year or fifty years.
If you feel as though you are just now arriving to see a movie that has been running for an hour, its because this current movie, a Gaza-West Bank blame game, has been evolving on the screens of the Israeli and Palestinian media.
Preoccupied with the Donald’s twitters and threats, the American press has largely ignored the story of lies about Gaza. To our media, it is a conflict waged within a distant land between “long-time foes”.
To Palestinians, it is not a conflict. It is an occupation that blames the occupied.
To catch you up on the latest set of Bibi lies, here is some background:
Israel’s occupiers “withdrew” from Gaza in 2005. But the occupiers did not “withdraw” Israel’s control over what is now an outdoor Gaza prison in which essential ingredients of life–food, water, medical care, and electrical power–remain completely in Israeli hands.
To remind Gazans who holds the power, Israel stages vicious military attacks and periodic wars against Gaza citizens.
The 1993 Oslo Accords looked at the time like a good stop-gap measure. It was, in reality, a moment in history when Israel sold the world and occupied Palestinians a package of wampum disguised as a “peace process”,
The Accords were never intended by Israel to bring peace. That was an Israeli lie. The Accords were decorative beads, intended as a cover to pretend reaching for peace agreements while Israel remained busy expanding its settlements, and tightening its control over all aspects of Palestinian life.
Then, as colonialists are wont to do, they sold that same peace process wampum to the U.S. congress and its Israeli allies in American media and cultural institutions.
The lies that sustain the Israeli–driven “peace process”, are rooted in greed and control, which derive from the evil twins of racism and religious bigotry.
You wish to see racism and religious bigotry? Both are on display in this week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a Trump ban against all travelers from six Muslim nations to stand.
The caveat that the ban would not apply to travelers who had U.S. family or institutional ties, is sheer racial and religious bigotry.
The Trump ban tells us to ignore these words engraved on the Stature of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
It is that same spirit that rejects Liberty’s call and leads Bibi to blame the medical and electrical shortage in Gaza on a Gaza-West Bank struggle for political leadership.
If this spirit is not racism/religious bigotry, then what is it? I first encountered this racist/bigotry nonsense in my childhood in a racist White-controlled American South.
That same racist/bigotry began with American colonialism conquering a continent against the resistance of Native Americans. It now extends to all facets of our American life and culture.
The embedded racism in our nation makes Bibi’s racist lies an easy sell in the land built on the backs of Native Americans and African Americans.
Two sources from the front lines explain the conflict Bibi has cultivated. The first report from the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, demonstrates how the PA and Hamas have allowed their own quest for power inside the prison to control their actions. It begins:
While much attention has been focused on the cutbacks to Gaza’s electricity, testimonies from the Strip indicate that for the past two months the Palestinian Authority has also been blocking Gaza patients from leaving the Strip for medical treatment.
Gazan Palestinians are reporting unexplained delays in receiving permits from the PA in Ramallah to leave the Strip for treatment in Israel, Jordan or the West Bank. These testimonies have been reinforced by data received by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, indicating that the PA Health Ministry has stopped facilitating this treatment for Gazans.
To whatever extent these are true reports, and not completely fabricated, it reflects the poor leadership that has evolved among the Palestinian factions. What goes on between Bibi and Mahmoud Abbas, the long-reigning PA president, is never an equal interaction.
Abbas runs a vassal state under Israel’s absolute control. What little he gains from Israel in his role as PA president, it is granted because Bibi expects subservience in return.
I envision that relationship with Bibi as a Mafia boss allowing deliveries to Mahmoud Abbas’ neighborhood stores.
Is Abbas getting what he can from his Boss by trying to undermine Hamas in a conflict inside the prison?
I saw that same desperate subservience unfold with Christian leaders desperate to help young students leave Communist East Germany for education elsewhere.
A second source on this story is this Palestinian Ma’an News Agency report, which rejects the Hamas accusations and denies that The Palestinian Authority (PA) “has been preventing Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip from leaving the territory for medical treatment, and said Israel was responsible for denying Gazans the exit permits, which has had fatal consequences in recent weeks”
Whom are we to believe? Statements from the Occupier with the power or “the PA’s medical referral department in the southern district, Bassam al-Badri, who told Ma’anthat Israel was accountable for the deterioration of the medical situation in Gaza’”
Al Badri adds that, “by denying exit to thousands of patients via the Erez crossing so that they may be treated in hospitals in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem”. Al-Badri also points out that “only 50 percent of medical permits were approved as a result of the Israeli restrictions”.
There is no doubting that health care inside Gaza “has greatly suffered as part of the decade-long Israeli siege, with Israel limiting medical equipment allowed in and restricting travel for doctors seeking further medical training and specialization”.
Closely related to the reduction in medical care is the reduction in the delivery of electrical supply to Gaza. Palestinians there are reduced to a few hours of power a day. This had caused a “devastating” impact on hospitals.
Bassam al-Badri also told Ma’an that the Palestinian Ministry of Health transfers between 1,600 and 1,800 patients to the West Bank and Jerusalem every month.
One-fourth of those transfers are cancer patients.
Two sources from the front lines of limited medical care and electrical services, arrive at the same conclusion: The situation in Gaza is dire.
Exactly who is to blame? We must conclude that with all the Palestinian squabbling over internal control, one government, and one government alone, is responsible.
Israel has the power and the responsibility as the occupier, to serve the human services needs of the Palestinian citizens of the West Bank and Gaza.
– James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Visit his blog.