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Editorial | Sunday, 11 January 2009

The world as an accomplice

The ongoing aggression waged by Israeli forces on the Palestinians in Gaza defies the most fundamental human rights and international law that European governments rhetorically uphold.
The chronology to this crisis is as contentious as any comment that can be made about it, but the basic facts remain that upon the termination of the ceasefire, Hamas militants fired rockets into Israel – which is in itself a war crime, and which Hamas must have known would lead to a bloody escalation – while Israel was imposing the blockade of Gaza that has been stripping a nation of its basic, day-to-day necessities.
The blatant injustice of the ensuing massacre of hundreds of civilians, including the bombardment of a United Nations school where women and children were seeking refuge, will inevitably leave long-lasting scars for generations to come on the prospects of peace ever being established in this conflict-ridden region.
The images of men and women crying at the total destruction of their homes and their families, wailing next to their dead beloved, are doomed to be transformed into decades of hate and terror, etched in the desperation of individuals who have literally lost everything. Israeli bombs are blowing up people and their already poor surroundings into pieces, but they are also inflicting wounds on these stateless people that will be impossible to heal.
All this comes after decades of oppression of a nation denied its land and living under military occupation, also thanks to European powers’ historical insensible and immoral geopolitics. Unlike other countries, Israel has been allowed to develop nuclear weapons and has not been held accountable for infringing UN Security Council resolutions.
Once again, Europe’s hands are drenched in blood. The current Czech presidency of the EU described the Israeli attacks as a “defensive action”, despite the tragedy of innocent victims in which Israel is defying any logic of proportionality and justice. The Czechs’ justification of Israel’s aggression effectively betrays the European governments’ complicity in this atrocity being committed before our eyes. At the same time, Arab leaders have once again let down their own people in ignoring the fate of the Palestinian people, proving yet again that, on an official level, the rhetoric about the people of Gaza and the West Bank is only used for political expediency without moving a finger when concrete actions of solidarity are needed.
It would be naïve to clamour for peace just as military force is sowing the seeds of terror and more bloodshed. Tomorrow, we will witness the revenge and suicide bombings by people who were never fanatics or extremists, but have been turned so by this injustice. Unjustified as they are, we should not wonder why they will be happening, as they have been happening in the Middle East and beyond for years. Israel might somehow succeed in wiping out the democratically-elected Hamas, only to let Al Qaeda reign over the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, while many believe there is little Malta can do about such world conflicts, it has to be pointed out that being an EU member, our government has an international platform and the diplomatic tools to make its unequivocal contribution.
To begin with, Malta’s insistence on raising illegal immigration on the EU agenda without looking at the bigger picture remains an exercise of missing the wood for the trees, and a tragic one at that.
The Gaza assault is a perfect example of why people are displaced, why they flee their homeland and seek refuge elsewhere. Patrols on land and on sea, quotas and talks of burden sharing will do nothing to solve the root of the problem, in this case illegal and unacceptable military aggression on the civilian population of Gaza.
It would be a grave, immoral position, to ignore completely the tragic causes of immigration just as they are happening, and talk exclusively of managing the migration flow and the ensuing xenophobic discourse.
Just as Malta was the international stage where the Cold War was ended two decades ago, it can and should make its contribution today when the voices of reason, dignity and humanity are stifled by the bellicose noises of raw military power. Anything short of that puts us as an accomplice in this massive ongoing crime against humanity.


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