Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness

Yesterday, in my Scary Post, I asked regular readers who have not commented, to say hello, and some of you did. It was very exciting for me, very sweet to hear from you, after firing so many posts into the cybersphere and for day after day, hearing nothing. And if anyone out there wants to de-lurk today, that would be wonderful too.

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One reader (Sam10) asked me a question - Can I ask how you took the Gaza cause on as your own personal 'crusade'? and I wrote my answer this morning and realised that it was far too long to put in the comments section, so I hope that those who are not interested will bear with me if I answer it here instead.

I don’t have a personal connection with Palestine, but I care deeply about social justice. Last night in bed I was trying to decide how to answer your question and my heart started racing and wouldn’t stop. When I think about what the ordinary Palestinian people have to put up with on a daily basis – either in Gaza or in the other territories - I am engulfed in a weird cocktail of feelings – rage, sadness, incomprehension. I cannot believe that the world stands by and lets the Israeli Government collectively punish the Palestinian people in all the cruel ways that it does. Collective punishment of civilians is a war crime.

The Israeli Government is an occupying power in the Palestinian territories. They should not be there in the first place. They have stolen land from the Palestinians. Now they are there they do illegal things like build on their land – which is against international law. They bulldoze their houses and their olive groves. They steal their water supplies, so that Palestinian villages are short of water, while the neighbouring illegal settlements have plenty. The Israeli Government has built a wall, and people going about their daily business – going to school, work, hospital - have to queue, sometimes for hours - to go through checkpoints in the wall, and sometimes are not allowed to go through for spurious reasons.

One part of the Palestinian territories – Gaza – is under siege and has been so since before the war last January. The international community has promised aid for Gaza, but the Israeli Government will not allow in a lot of that aid, including building materials to reconstruct houses which they bombed last January. Thousands of people are homeless, the sewage system and water supplies are wrecked. The Israeli Government restricts the import of everything, and will not even allow certain medicines in. Last week, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said it has run out of 141 types of medicines and 116 types of medical supplies due to Israeli restrictions. e.g. There is a baby dying in Gaza because the Israelis will not allow in a special type of infant milk – the only formula to which the baby is not allergic. Why?

I could go on and on. The situation is so unjust. And yet we still trade with Israel. The Israeli Government breaks UN resolutions and we turn a blind eye. I do not condone any kind of violence and so do not condone the violence of Palestinian factions against the Israelis. When the Palestinians had an election that was judged fair by impartial international observers, they elected Hamas, and yet the Israeli Government and other governments refuse to negotiate with Hamas. Why?

For all these reasons, I try to do what I can. I go on demonstrations, I sign petitions, I boycott Israeli goods, I mention the cause on my blog, I collect money for a charity (that has no agenda of violence) which is helping ordinary Palestinians – Medical Aid for Palestinians.

‘It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.’ Confucius


Anonymous said...

Hi Sue, Thought I would join those ‘outing’ themselves as readers of your blog! I have read you about twice a week since I found you last year. I was ‘googling’ for images of Bainbridge Meeting House and you popped up. I was intrigued as to why you had a picture of the Meeting House on your blog and as I read on I discovered you were a fellow Friend, I have returned on and off ever since. My family come from North Yorkshire, from around Skipton, so there is a common love for the North Country. I live in north Northamptonshire and am a member of Northampton AM. Glad I can ‘speak’ with you. Regards, Phil Petty

Sam10 said...

Thanks for your answer. Glad I was nosey now. But sorry to give you a sleepless night.

I find unfairness hard to take on any level.

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Phil and Sam10, Thanks for your comments.
Receiving readers' hellos has been so rewarding this past day and a half. I am so glad I asked you to de-lurk, and I feel honoured that so many of you came up trumps. Thank you.