To the Editor:
It is not an insignificant fact that, despite the space which it took in these pages, two recent letters professing support for Israel failed to mention the most basic feature of the Israel-Palestine conflict: Israel has maintained a four-decade long military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the two pieces of land on which the Palestinians hope to construct a future state. Rather than acknowledge this elementary fact, much less grapple with it, the two letter-writers chose instead to rant about how peaceful and loving Israel and its citizens are. I will let others decide the ethics of their position, but it should be known that such was committed to paper at a time when Israel stands accused by major human rights bodies of war crimes and crimes against humanity, both for its 2008 assault on Gaza and for the rubble under which it buried Gaza once again two weeks ago.
Such was also committed to paper despite the knowledge that Israel is imposing a total blockade on the import and export of goods into and out of the Strip. In recently released internal Israeli documents, it is evidenced that Israel consciously maintained a position in which it would “count calories” — i.e., restrict the importation of food into Gaza so as to keep the Palestinians on the edge of starvation. This confirmed the oft-quoted former Israeli staffer, Dov Weisglass, who said following the 2006 elections in Palestine that what was needed was to put Gazans “on a diet.” It is both sentiments and policies like these that have resulted in catastrophe for Gaza: UNICEF reports that more than 10 percent of children in the Strip suffer from “chronic malnutrition” and that the same percentage are physically stunted. During Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, UNICEF’s spokesperson likewise noted the persistent psychosocial effects Israel’s terror is causing for these same children, as common symptoms include frequent nightmares and bed-wetting. In sum, Israel’s policies towards Gaza are having both irreversible physical and mental effects on the children of the Strip, and not even the morally stunted can erase that living fact.
It is complained when Palestinians living in Gaza resist this state of affairs. But Israel refuses to permit other modes of protest all the same. Last month, Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine invited Iyad Burnat, a nonviolent Palestinian activist living in the West Bank, to campus to speak on his work and the penalties he has faced from Israel for daring to resist Israel’s continued expropriation of his village. These penalties include bullets, teargas, stun grenades and long terms of imprisonment. The question is, if Israel refuses to allow opportunities for peaceful settlement of the conflict, a la Burnat, then what right does Israel and its apologists have to complain when Palestinians choose violence to resist a state of affairs that is slowly killing them? The answer is none.
BU Law 2013