By Juan Cole - Informed Comment
“Gaza” is an abstraction to most Israelis, including [partisans of Israel like] Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. A majority of the 1.5 million Gazans is not even from Gaza, but rather is from what is now Israel.
Americans do not know, and perhaps do not care, that 68% of Gazans are refugees living in 8 refugee camps, who were ethnically cleansed and violently expelled from their homes in 1947-48, in what is now Israel. And no, they were not combatants, just civilians caught up in a civil war of sorts. They lost massive amounts of property and their homes, which would now be worth billions, but have never received a dime from the Israelis in reparations or compensation. Then in winter of 2008-2009, the Israeli military destroyed one in every eight Palestinian homes, rendering even more people homeless.
Schumer accuses the Gazans of not ‘recognizing’ Israel, which is sort of like accusing the pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico of not ‘recognizing’ BP. If Schumer wants the recognition and good will of the Gazans, he should arrange for them to be paid for the homes and farms out of which they were chased by the Israelis, who made them homeless refugees in a kind of vast concentration camp in Gaza, and are now half-starving them.
‘ SCHUMER: The Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution. More do than before, but a majority still do not. Their fundamental view is, the Europeans treated the Jews badly and gave them our land — this is Palestinian thinking [...] They don’t believe in the Torah, in David [...] You have to force them to say Israel is here to stay. The boycott of Gaza to me has another purpose — obviously the first purpose is to prevent Hamas from getting weapons by which they will use to hurt Israel — but the second is actually to show the Palestinians that when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement. When there’s total war against Israel, which Hamas wages, they’re going to get nowhere. And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.
So anything short of ‘starving to death’, i.e. mass extermination in the camps, is all right as long as it convinces the enemy?
How about something short of starving to death, such as 10% of children being stunted from malnutrition? Would that be worth it? Or a majority of Gazans being ‘food insecure’ according to the United Nations? [pdf]. Both are the current situation, which is supported by Schumer.
How about Gaza children Looking for food in garbage?
Some 56% of Gazans are children, who hardly voted for Hamas but whom Schumer wishes to punish economically.
Meanwhile, Schumer doesn’t recognize a Palestinian state, but he nevertheless gets three solid meals a day.
As Think Progress explained, nothing Schumer said is true. A majority of Palestinians favors a two-state solution. Moreover, Palestinians are Christians and Muslims, who do in fact acknowledge the Torah (the Hebrew Bible, which the Qur’an praises as full of guidance and light) and David (whom the Qur’an calls “Da’ud.”) Schumer is shamelessly ignorant about Palestinian culture, but it is true that they do not draw from David’s existence or from the Qur’an’s praise of the Torah or Bible the same conclusion as contemporary political Zionists or Jewish nationalists, that Jews have a right to expel local people from Palestine and usurp their property without compensation. But then virtually no Jews drew such a conclusion in the United States until after World War II, and most diaspora Jews rejected such an idea until that era.
As for the idea that all Gazans, including children, should be economically punished until they agree with Schumer’s Zionism, there is only one way that makes sense. Since the children of Gaza did not vote for Hamas, if they are being punished for Hamas’s crimes, then it must be because they are related to Hamas members.
Punishing people because they are related to enemies of the state is called in German Sippenhaft or Sippenhaftung. Look it up. I don’t usually like such analogies from the 1930s and 1940s in Europe to contemporary Zionist thinking because they inevitably offend even a sympathetic Jewish audience. But it should be noted that Sippenhaftung was implemented against gentile German family members of dissidents such as those involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler, and that Stalin also deployed the tactic of punishing relatives of perceived dissidents. And there is no other way to read Schumer’s prescription for putting Gazan children on a diet than as a contemporary form of Sippenhaftung.
And it is shameful, and he deserves the comparison for these inhumane sentiments.
See the video of Schumer
*”Sippenhaft, Terror and fear in Nazi Germany: Examining one facet pf terror in the aftermath pf the plot of 20 July 1944? by Robert Loeffel Letters from Palestine Flyer
Juan Cole Middle East scholar, is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Iraq War, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Iranian domestic struggles and foreign affairs. His website: www.juancole.com