Gaza Relief, what for?

It is impossible to live in this part of the world without at some point confronting a polarizing choice regarding one’s sympathy for the peoples of Palestine. An article in today’s Jerusalem Post, www.jpost.com, brings these questions back into focus.

The story in question, Cyprus FM: Israel Rejects Cyprus Gaza Aid Link, reports that Israeli authorities have rejected a Cypriot proposal to host a staging area for humanitarian aid destined for Gaza. The article does not go into detail and the reader is left wondering, “So what?”.

So what? Well, this is a unrepentant answer to what should have been an international condemnation of the excessive use of force by the IDF when they intercepted last spring’s Gaza Flotilla. It reaffirms Israel’s stranglehold on Gaza commerce, humanitarian or otherwise, and unfairly promotes Israeli financial and business interests.

1926 Map of Ancient Palestine (click to enlarge)

If imports are inspected (arbitrarily) and categorized according to what is permissible and what is not, exports are subject to the same inspections and control. These controls create opportunity for unscrupulous traders to interpose themselves as middlemen for Gaza-manufactured goods exported under false pretence. This is an invitation to extortion.

Increasingly, we in Europe are seeing Palestinian fruits and vegetables labeled “Produce of Israel”. We know this is not always the case. We in fact presume that such abuses are the norm given the clear inequality of bargaining power between Israeli and the Palestinian producers and intermediaries. Such inequality in American jurisprudence is sufficient grounds for breech of contract.

Increasingly we in Europe are being asked to support calls to boycott Israeli produce. Increasingly, these calls are gaining traction.

How long can this last? Not long I hope. The writing is on the wall. The justness of the Palestinian cause is no longer in dispute. The unsavory Yasser Arafat is gone, an unpleasant chapter in the history of the Palestinian peoples. Men and women of good will are actively seeking the middle ground… on this side and that of xenophobia.