… and by compartmentalization I’m not even attempting a clever pun on the people of Gaza being stuffed into a physical compartment, which they are, of course. It’s about how the human mind can split its perception of two similar things and feel quite different about either one. Or how one can be totally concerned by one problem on the other side of the globe and forget there’s much the same going on outside my own home, but nah, let’s file that under “forgettable.”
Haiti: disaster, misery, Israeli cargo plane with goods and doctors goes out to the rescue. Bravo.
Now let’s see how that works with this strip of land at Israelis’ doorstep. Not the same now, is it? Or is it?
Who said we are shut up inside our Tel Aviv bubble? How many small nations surrounded by enemies set up field hospitals on the other side of the world? Give us an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in Thailand or a terror attack in Kenya, and the IDF Spokesman’s Office will triumph. A cargo plane can always be found to fly in military journalists to report on our fine young men from the Home Front Command.
Everyone is truly doing a wonderful job: the rescuers, searching for survivors; the physicians, saving lives; and the reporters, too, who are rightfully patting them all on the back. After Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon became the face we show the world, the entire international community can now see Israel’s good side.
But the remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza. Only a little more than an hour’s drive from the offices of Israel’s major newspapers, 1.5 million people have been besieged on a desert island for two and a half years. Who cares that 80 percent of the men, women and children living in such proximity to us have fallen under the poverty line? How many Israelis know that half of all Gazans are dependent on charity, that Operation Cast Lead created hundreds of amputees, that raw sewage flows from the streets into the sea?…
The missiles that Israel Air Force combat aircraft fired there a year ago hit nearly 60,000 homes and factories, turning 3,500 of them into rubble. Since then, 10,000 people have been living without running water, 40,000 without electricity. Ninety-seven percent of Gaza’s factories are idle due to Israeli government restrictions on the import of raw materials for industry. Soon it will be one year since the international community pledged, at the emergency conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, to donate $4.5 billion for Gaza’s reconstruction. Israel’s ban on bringing in building materials is causing that money to lose its value…
Even the images of our excellent doctors in Haiti cannot blur our ugly face in the Strip.