Israel and The Grand Coalition
by LESLIE SACKS
August 17, 2010
From leftist radicals and boycotting unions to Osama Bin Laden and his ilk - the call is the same: "Israel - get out of Gaza".
Ironically the so-called occupation ended 5 years ago when Israel removed every last soldier and Jewish resident from within Gaza's border.
The claim of the more educated among Gaza's Grand Coalition is that Israel still polices the territory's coastal border, as well as its own, enforcing a blockade (little mention, of course, is made of Egypt equivalent approach to its border with Gaza; apparently Arabs can "oppress" other Arabs without opprobrium). While the form and function of this blockade is certainly open to debate, it is striking (to say the least) how the Grand Coalition ignores the rather unfortunate fact that Gaza is ruled by a terrorist organization sworn to Israel's destruction.
It is in this upside-down world of the Middle East - a world the West still confuses with that of Lawrence of Arabia and Khalil Gibran-that an unlikely knight in tarnished armor is riding to the rescue.
The right-wing Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's combative (but clever) foreign minister, is answering the call from Berkeley to Moscow, from Venezuela to Teheran, from London's teachers unions to the British Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship in Chicago.
He is lobbying European and other countries to build a power station, a desalination plant and a harbor in the Gaza strip, an area that receives more humanitarian and U.N. aid per capita than any other in the world (in addition to receiving aid, Gaza specializes in rocket fire, sending more than 10,000 into Israel from its 139 square mile enclave, surely another world record worth mentioning). Israel will no longer be, in any respect, the occupier. In return, Lieberman is asking Western governments and international bodies to police Gaza's borders and ports to ensure no illicit weapons are brought into the territory.
These developments would provide Gaza with exactly what the Grand Coalition appears to wish for: an independent Gaza that can function without Israeli provision of electricity, water, goods, or security. Israel could thereby wash its hands of any responsibility for Gaza's 1.6 million inhabitants and its Hamas government. The Coalition, it seems, has its newest, strangest member.
Or does it? If we may be so bold as to read between the lines, an self-sufficient Gaza is precisely what the Coalition's Israel haters worldwide don't want. The world's most favored scapegoat (57% of UN resolutions on the Middle East have dealt with Israel's transgressions, a country located on 0.1% of the land in the Middle East and its only democracy), the focus of much of the media's mudslinging, would then be out of the picture. A tragedy of epic proportions: reporters and politicians, radicals and protesters alike would have to focus on Kurdistan or Darfur, on Congo or Somalia, on Myanmar or Chechnya - all the cornucopia of humanitarian disasters the world prefers to ignore. Israel is by far the sweetest target, the soft underbelly of the West.
The world can choose to give Gaza entirely back to the Gazans, give a respite to their favorite scapegoat Israel, and focus on some other, far more pressing problem.
My money is on the status quo. The Grand Coalition between Israel's right and the West's left (and the Islamists), between what most claim to want and what Lieberman is offering, is a pipe dream.
A wonderful dream, yet a dream nonetheless.