There is no moral equivalence between Hamas-ruled Gaza, that fraught, but gorgeous, little strip of Mediterranean beachfront and Israel, a model society amid dictatorships, military juntas and artificially created kingdoms.
“Oh, you who murdered Allah’s pious prophets
Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood
You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship.
Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations
Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs…”
Six-year-old Palestinian girl recites poem on Palestinian television, 2013.
“Israel was not created in order to disappear—Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”
Let’s be frank.
However you slice it, there is no moral equivalence between Hamas-ruled Gaza, that fraught, but gorgeous, little strip of Mediterranean beachfront and Israel, a model society amid dictatorships, military juntas and artificially created kingdoms.
Earlier today, BeachGrit principal and best-selling author Chas Smith, (buy Reports from Hell, here, Welcome to Paradise, here, Cocaine + Surfing, A Sordid History of Surfing’s Greatest Love Affair, here) wrote that Israel’s “greatest shame” had begun in the creation of its state in 1948 and that it continues to “cast blame on its subjugated, impoverished, alienated, trapped population for bad behavior worthy of decimation. Squeezing the vice tighter, dreaming fever dreams that it can break the will of a battered people with next to nothing to lose.”
Smith claimed there was no blood spilt between Arabs and Jews in the years prior to 1948.
“The argument that the struggle between Jew and Arab is somehow and ancient grudge match, more deeply rooted than any struggle on earth, is patently false. The troubles began in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel and the subjugation of the native Palestinian population.”
Beyond the Jew-killings throughout the Middle East in the nineteenth century and earlier, there were the programs in Algeria, Iraq and Libya in the thirties and early forties. In 1941, hundreds of Jews were murdered in Baghdad, spurring a mass migration out of the country.
And so on and so on.
Ever since Israel split from Gaza in 2005 as a concession in the never-ending peace process, and after using the army to evict 21 Jewish settler communities, bombs have rained from mosques, hospitals and schools, every Palestinian child, woman, man killed another martyr to the cause; a network of tunnels built in part by child labor ’cause kids are “nimble” are used to smuggle weapons, to kidnap Israelis.
During the last stoush with Israel in 2014, Hamas turned on its own people.
“Hamas forces carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians… In the chaos of the conflict, the de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses including against people in its custody. These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.”
Gay in Gaza? Forget about it.
From The Hellish Life of Gaza’s LGBTQ Community,
“I had a date recently. I was in his bedroom and … uh … can I speak crudely? Well, he was going down on me. Suddenly, someone opened the door, then immediately closed it. I was paralyzed! I thought we were going to be murdered. We got up to check: It was actually his blind grandmother who had opened the wrong door!”
The Middle East, y’see, is not known for its fabulousness. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria ain’t what you’d call progressive. If you’re a gal or you’re a guy kinky for dick in Gaza City, it’s hell on earth.
But in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, girls and boys can flash eyes at each other in public and swim together in revealing swimsuits and not fear a vengeful brother or father. It’s a city where gay men can openly lasso tongues and not cower under the threat of jail or violence.
You’ve gotta admire somewhere that’s surrounded by countries whose sole reason for getting up in the morning is the desire to see it destroyed with as much fire and histrionics as possible.
A few winters ago, on my second trip to Israel, I asked the wife of a guy I met if she was going to have kids. Standard small talk. “With this tension? Last year we were running into bomb shelters. Do I want to bring a child into this?”
When I asked a young surfer if he felt tension between Jews and Arabs he said of course he did, but “it’s our destiny to be chased. It’s our destiny to be hunted.”
The checkpoints, the walls exist because if they didn’t, again, the buses would burn, the nightclubs and cafes would explode, cars would plough into crowds and Jews would be knifed in the streets.
As I write, bombs fall on Israel from Syria.
Two points: Palestinians gotta lose the all-Jews-gotta-die mentality; Israel has to reign in its far-right “settlers”, a destabilising, ruinous force and a disgrace to the Israeli ideal.