Monday, April 26, 2010

Gaza's calm determination

By Norman Finkelstein, The Electronic Intifada, 26 April 2010

This essay is the fifth chapter ("Inside Gaza") of Norman Finkelstein's latest book, This time we went too far, available from OR Books.

"To preserve my sense of purpose, and keep the Palestine struggle from becoming a lifeless abstraction, I need periodically to recharge my moral batteries by reconnecting with the actual people living under occupation and by witnessing firsthand the unfolding tragedy. From each trip I invariably carry away a handful of stark images that I fix in my mind's eye to dispel the occasional hesitations about staying the course. When the memories begin to fade I know it is time to return.

And so, in June 2009, six months after Israel's invasion, I joined a delegation that journeyed to Gaza for a brief visit....

For most of the time in Gaza, our delegation was guarded by young Hamas militants. As we parted ways at the end of the visit I felt moved and obliged to state publicly that in my opinion none of them was deserving of the death Israel has attempted to inflict on them. I am aware that according to the "laws of war" they are "legitimate" military targets. But in a rational world the locution "laws of war" would make as much sense as "etiquette of cannibals." It is probably true that violent conflicts would be more lethal and destructive in the absence of these laws, but it is also true that, in their pretense of neutrality, they obscure fundamental truths. Whether from conviction, frustration, or torment, these young men have chosen to defend their homeland from foreign marauders with weapon in hand. Were I living in Gaza, still in my prime and able to muster the courage, I could easily be one of them."

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