by Uri Avnery
What happens when one and a half million human beings are imprisoned in a tiny, arid territory, cut off from their compatriots and from any contact with the outside world, starved by an economic blockade and unable to feed their families?
Some months ago, I described this situation as a sociological experiment set up by Israel, the United States, and the European Union. The population of the Gaza Strip as guinea pigs.
This week, the experiment showed results. They proved that human beings react exactly like other animals: when too many of them are crowded into a small area in miserable conditions, they become aggressive, and even murderous. The organizers of the experiment in Jerusalem, Washington, Berlin, Oslo, Ottawa, and other capitals could rub their hands in satisfaction. The subjects of the experiment reacted as foreseen. Many of them even died in the interests of science.
But the experiment is not yet over. The scientists want to know what happens if the blockade is tightened still further.
As Canadians, we owe it to the Palestinian people to come up with a workable foreign policy that places humanitarian interests first. Our Conservative and Liberal parties hardly differ from the pro-Israeli government stances that their counterparts in the US, the Republicans and Democrats, choose to pursue. On Sunday, Peter Mackay was boasting about supporting Abbas - as if any aid would be forthcoming to the people in the Gaza strip (where the real crisis is, with Israel's government now cutting off fuel and other supplies) via Mackay's so-called grand gesture. We can't be satisfied with propping up only those Palestinians who are either supporting Abbas or who are protected by his forces.
For the sake of everyone involved, this imbalance of power must be rectified and truly open minds (not beholden to Israeli government lobbyists) need to come to the table. Canada cannot officially contribute someone who's willing to be brutally honest about what's happening in the occupied territories as long as we have a foreign minister who chooses to willfully ignore the realities on the ground there.
It's long past time for this "experiment" to end.
Related: The people of Palestine must finally be allowed to determine their own fate