Ralph Nader: The Prisoners In Gaza, Their Blackout Nightmare – OpEd


Have you heard much lately about the 1.5 million Palestinians illegally imprisoned by the Israeli government in the world’s largest open-air Gulag? Their dire living conditions, worsened by a selective Israeli siege limiting the importation of necessities of life – medical items, food, water, building materials, and fuel to list a few – has resulted in an 80 percent unemployment rate and widespread suffering from unlawful punishment, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment in Israeli jails.

The horrific conditions were a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in late 2008, ignited by Israel’s breaking of a truce with Gaza on November 4. Fourteen hundred people died, nearly three hundred of them children, and thousands were injured. The terror bombing of the Gazan population smashed into homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, mosques, subsistence farms, UN facilities, and even the American International School. Israeli bombers destroyed over 30 members of one extended family in their home. That toll alone was three times the amount of Israeli fatalities, which included friendly fire.

The humanitarian crisis in crowded Gaza – about twice the size of the District of Columbia – “is now more dire than ever.” That is the judgment of Norwegian physician and professor of medicine, Dr. Mads Gilbert, who just finished a ten-day speaking tour in the U.S. Dr. Gilbert, returning from a recent visit to Gaza, was one of the only two foreign doctors inside Gaza during the massacre of December 2008 to January 2009.

He says: “During the Israeli attack, I saw the effects of new weapons including drones, phosphorous and also DIME [Dense Inert Metal Explosives], which leave no shrapnel, but I witnessed their capacity to cut a child in two; they also leave radioactive traces.”

Today, anemia and protein deficiency are widespread, reports Dr. Gilbert, especially among little children. UN and other relief supplies are inadequate, and UN humanitarian relief staff is often harassed by Israeli officials. Rebuilding pulverized Gaza is seriously obstructed by Israel blocking the imports of building materials.

Dr. Gilbert comments that he has “worked in other desperate situations in other places and Gaza is unique in a number of respects. It’s a captive population – usually if civilians are being attacked, there’s a safe place they can take refuge and then come back to their homes when the fighting has stopped. That doesn’t exist for the people in Gaza since they are effectively imprisoned by the Israeli siege.”

Writing in the prestigious British medical journal “The Lancet” in early 2009, Dr. Gilbert provided clinical details of the slaughter, including the destruction of ambulances and medical facilities that tend to the dying and the wounded.

He described a “shattered, attacked, and drained health-care system trying to help an overwhelming amount of casualties in a war between clearly unequal powers, where the attacker spares no civilian lives – be it man, woman, or child – not even the much-needed health workers of all professions.”

It is no wonder the Israelis banned all foreign reporters, including those from the U.S. – the very country that provided the weaponry – thereby preventing the world from seeing the carnage as it happened.

The media ban made it possible for George W. Bush and president-elect Barack Obama to get away with describing this aggressive war with the identical phrase “Israel has the right to defend itself.” But apparently, the Palestinians do not have any way to defend themselves against the second-most modern military arsenal in the world; and their pleas about who broke the truce and started the bloodshed are unheeded.

Crude, garage-built Palestinian rockets are no match for modern precision missiles, helicopter gunships, bombers and drones. Fortunately for the Israelis, the rockets failed to reach any population centers 99 percent of the time. It was a mystery even to the Israelis why the unchallenged Israeli air force and ground artillery did not knock out the primitive Gaza launching sites, given its spies, informants and knowledge of every block in Gaza.

Reporters would have dug out these stories were they allowed inside Gaza. Since 2009, the focus of both the Israeli and U.S. government toward Iran has taken Gaza, the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and the swallowing up of more land in the Palestinian West Bank, off of the news screens in the West.

It is remarkable how successful the Israeli propagandists have been in controlling the news coverage. They have even sidelined prominent retired Israeli security, military and political leaders, who along with civic and peace advocates are seeking a two-state solution, an end to confiscation of Palestinian land and houses, and debunking war talk against Iran, designed for domestic political purposes in Israel and the U.S.

For example, Meir Dagan, director of the Mossad – Israel’s CIA – from 2002 until 2010, called bombing Iran “the stupidest thing I ever heard.” In agreement are many other Israelis in the know. But, as in the U.S. during the months before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, experienced voices of realism and sanity are not heard. Nor are sobering words of candor, as voiced by Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, who said, of the dispossessed Palestinians years ago, “we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”

Isn’t bringing these prominent Israeli truthsayers, peace advocates and military refuseniks to the U.S. Congress for their first-ever public hearing way overdue? At stake is peace or more wars in the Middle East. Also at stake is the possibility of another U.S. “war of choice” against Iran and the likely uncontrollable consequences that such belligerency would provoke. Would members of Congress let the AIPAC lobby block Israelis from coming here to present such testimony?

Or are the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees, chaired respectively by Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, satisfied with following their party lines?

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a politician, activist and the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel. In his career as consumer advocate he founded many organizations including the Center for Study of Responsive Law, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Clean Water Action Project, the Disability Rights Center, the Pension Rights Center, the Project for Corporate Responsibility and The Multinational Monitor (a monthly magazine).

6 thoughts on “Ralph Nader: The Prisoners In Gaza, Their Blackout Nightmare – OpEd

  • April 21, 2012 at 5:21 am

    This is an incredible work of propaganda.

    One would feel sorry for the Palestinians except that they’re the ones who declared war on the Jews and Israel and have never agreed to a peace.

    If the Palestinians want to normalize their lives, they need to get leaders who have their best interests in mind and aren’t obsessed with killing Jews over all else.

    Ralph Nader clearly feels neglected and wants some attention. I suppose any Westerner who doesn’t see the plight of the Israeli situation (I believe it’s called “damned if they do and damned if they don’t”) needs emotional and psychiatric attention.

  • April 21, 2012 at 5:46 am

    This post is completely detached from reality. Hamas came to power after enforcement of Democratic elections by US. However it leads some undemocratic causes mainly it’s aspiration to conquer the Jewish people of Israel and to kill them. The palestinians of Gaza choose to fight, for the cause of killing all the Jews of Israel. They will always tend to the solution of annihilation of the other even if that possibility seems rather a remote one. But is it so remote in this case? With a big country like Iran publicly states it’s goal in killing six million people, with soft international response to that statements, with Israel waiting 8 long years before taking a serious action against bombardment (imagine the place you live in gets bombarded even by this very primitive bombs, can anyone raise kids in constant insecurity). The militants in Gaza keep on shooting. They also announced that, they will not respect any peace treaty signed by less aggressive groups. The Palestinians generally fail to have an inner agreement. See Palestinian civil war. When will this madness may come to an end? When the Iranians, and newly Muslim parties such as.in Egypt, and Hamas and Hezbollah will be defeated completely beyond any excuse. Making peace with a willing Palestinian side is as easy as to breathe. Post as detached as this only support a technique called self-victimization employed by Hamas and the like. Claiming to be powerful exterminator while also a fragile victim. Can you support a leadership which it’s logic will embarrse a grad schooler. If one thing was done right is that many Americans recognize the facts that I presented here. Mr. Nader, you’re understandment of the subject is lacking in it’s roots.

  • April 21, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Mr. Nader,
    It is remarkable how you managed to write this piece without once mentioning what prompted the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza. Perhaps you were too busy to bother reading about the daily rocket attacks against Israel originated in Gaza by people who call themselves “freedom fighters”. These fighters fire their weapons, and then conveniently hide among the civilian population, or preferably a school or a hospital. As you must well know, their actions are designed to cause an Israeli response, and when it occurs, like in 2008, the Palestinians have another opportunity to cry to the world and blame Israel for all their ills.

  • April 26, 2012 at 4:00 am

    Remarkable that there are only three comment writers who challenge Nadir on a piece of reporting that can be verified by anyone with access to a library and a couple of independent newspapers — including Israeli independent newspapers.

    Have supporters of Israel’s various violent political adventures simply run out of cognitive dissonance?

  • April 27, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Mr. Nader,

    It is good to see someone of your stature writing seriously about conditions in Gaza and the need to resolve them.

    Thank you for shining a light on this issue which we in the US often do not take the time to truly understand.

  • May 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    It is no wonder Mr. Nader was not elected president in 2008. His integrity is as deep and wide as the ignorance of the average American voter’s.

    We just returned to the US from a visit to Jerusalem in Israel, and Bethlehem in Gaza.

    Muslims, Christians, and Jews all claiming the Holy Land as THEIR Holy Land. God only knows the countless number of innocent people who have been killed because of the fighting of these three groups and their political allies.

    I posted a video to YouTube which shows the graffiti on the Palestinian side of the wall.



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