In his recent column, Perry B. Newman compared the good life in Israel to the miseries in Gaza, arguing that Gazans would live likewise if only they’d oust Hamas.
What Newman ignores is Israel’s stranglehold on Gaza’s economy, severely restricting exports as well as imports. Indeed, Israel limits such “dangerous” exports as flowers, and keeps Gazan boats so close to shore that fishermen barely make a living. Israel has done everything possible to cripple this economy, including its crushing attack on Gaza’s industrial base, schools, greenhouses, electrical grid, water purification system, homes, and irrigation systems.
Gaza aside, however, consider how Israel treats compliant Palestinians. President Abbas’ government has been exceedingly cooperative, so surely the lives of West Bank citizens must be very good indeed. Not so. Israel continues to confiscate their land for illegal settlements; expel families from homes in East Jerusalem so religious zealots can move in; bulldoze Palestinian homes without cause; protect daily settler violence against Palestinian persons and property; build a “security” wall that takes even more Palestinian land; and use checkpoints to make daily life miserable and cut West Bank businesses off from East Jerusalem, the West Bank’s economic hub.
So, the obstacle to a decent life for Palestinians is not Hamas. It’s Israel’s desire to expel Palestinians and possess all of Palestine. Not until Israel recognizes Palestinians’ right to a state on only 22 percent of their original homeland will they have a chance at the good life enjoyed by their Jewish neighbors.
Robert Schaible, chairman
Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights