I published a reply to Leon Fry-Kontaxis published in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations website, http://johnmenadue.com/michael-easson-israel-gaza-and-australia, 31 May 2018.
Mr Fry-Kontaxis thinks me both diabolically clever to “rehash” “Israeli talking points” and to simultaneously repeat Hamas propaganda about their recent involvement at the Israel/Gaza barrier. He also detects my “long history of justifying the deaths of Arab victims of Israeli violence, and his repeated blame of those Arab victims.” How sad.
I wrote the article myself, unaided by Israeli or Hamas influence. One thing I agree with Hillary Clinton on her recent trip to Australia: There is no such thing as an alternative fact.
No, the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip was not “implemented immediately following the election of the Hamas government”. Hamas won the most seats in legislative elections in 2006. It never won a Presidential election. Nevertheless, Hamas seized executive power in Gaza in a putsch in June 2007. Local Fatah leaders were executed or exiled. Hamas then greatly stepped up rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilian population centres and weapons smuggling into Gaza. Only then, and after repeated warnings, did Israel impose the blockade. In 2011, an international Panel of Inquiry established by the Secretary-General of the UN under the chairmanship of Sir Geoffrey Palmer, an expert in international maritime law, and a former Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand, found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was a lawful act of self-defence against the continuing attacks against Israel from Gaza. See: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/world/Palmer-Committee-Final-report.pdf. This is at the heart of the humanitarian disaster.
For Mr Fry-Kontaxis to say “at no point were any Israeli citizens in danger whatsoever” is breathtaking. Hamas’ Sinwar’s blood-curdling speech in the week prior to May 15 – “Our people and our boys will surprise the entire world with what they have in store… Let them wait for our big push. We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies” – can be seen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klFbf6VG7uA&feature=youtu.be, as broadcast by Al Jazeera television. They charged the security barrier numerous times to try to get through. I suspect not to plant roses.
How could anyone blame the ordinary Palestinians for the mess they are in? I have always believed that a true friend of the Israeli people is a friend of the Palestinians. There is nothing positive about war and there seems no end in sight for a sustainable peace treaty with two states living side by side. I pray that such days are nearing as distant as they presently seem. For the moment, I am in the troubled position of grasping an old truth: “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:18).”
As mentioned above, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, who said: “Let them wait for our big push. We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies” can be seen live here:
My article emphasised how sad is the total situation.
I understand the criticism of Israel for settlements beyond likely, acceptable future boundaries. But the perspective that occludes understanding, still less sympathy, for Israel’s predictament is disturbing.
Many Israelis, I know from my conversations in 34 years of visiting, changed their own hopes and perspective with the intifadas and the Palestinians’ rejection of various peace deals.
The existential threat to Israel is real.
The situation is desperate for many Palestinians. I see the tragedy. In the wider debate, I hope to always approach grievances and challenges with empathy and never appear dismissive of any of the peoples concerned.