March 23, 2012

EUs Baroness Ashton resign?: Toulouse, Gaza and All Children Who Suffer From Conflict

by Diane V. McLoughlin, March 23, 2012

Nile Gardiner, writing in The Telegraph (link, below,) argues that Baroness Ashton, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, should resign for comments she made at the recent UNRWA conference, 'Palestine refugees in the changing Middle East.' (UNRWA: United Nations Relief and Work Agency.)

I disagree. Baroness Ashton should be commended.  She stated the following:

"We are gathered here because we have recognised the potential of the youth of Palestine. Against all the odds, they continue to learn, to work, to dream and aspire to a better future. And the days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives. Here are young people who are asking not to be leaders of the future, but to be taken seriously as leaders of today. And it is to them that we should look and to them we should listen and it is to them that I pay tribute."

Mr. Gardiner writes that, 'The comments drew an angry response from Israeli leaders.'

Tough.  First of all, this suggests that these 'Israeli leaders' represent all Jewish opinion, when nothing could be further from the truth.  There are contemporary Jewish writers; philosophers; and political leaders; there are rabbis as well as Jewish historians, who argue for the civil liberties of all people in Israel-Palestine.  However, there are others who are not interested in equal rights in Israel-Palestine.  And the latter are a threat to the long-term stability of Israel.  They also contribute to the fear that they will  increase anti-Semitism for Jews throughout the world.

This excellent article by Jewish Voice for Peace's 'Muzzlewatch' helps bring context into the discussion. In early September, 2011, despite months in the planning between the Museum of Children's Art of Oakland, California (MOCHA) and Berkley California's Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), a planned exhibit of Gaza children's art was abruptly cancelled, due to intense pressure brought to bear against it by several local Jewish groups.  The art depicts childrens' experiences during Israel's 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, known as 'Operation Cast Lead.' (Cancelling the exhibit probably did not have the intended effect. As evidenced here, it helped raised the exhibit's profile, instead.)

Below: From the exhibit, 'A Child's View From Gaza'  

These attempts to censor all discussion of the immense suffering daily being inflicted upon 1.5 million men, women and children in Gaza; that seeks to stifle all peaceful advocacy within civil society toward securing their freedom as well as clinching an end to the conflict; creates a pressure cooker of hopelessness, despair and frustrated rage.

Newspapers should be responsible enough not to provide a platform for anyone who would seem to insinuate that some children are of more intrinsic worth than others. I fail to see what other conclusion I am encouraged to reach, than this, from reading Mr. Gardiner's piece.

The public discourse is now far advanced from such ignorance regarding the oppression of the Palestinian people, as well as Gardiner's blatant pro-Israel bias that flies in the face of the facts. He trots out the tired propaganda that Israel is a "fully democratic government...which goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties"; both platitudes are proveably false. 

The fact of the matter is that deflecters in no way serve Israel's long-term interest, if her interest is peace, which I argue it is. Turning attention away from Israel's current deeply flawed and racist reality prolongs, rather than shortens, the conflict.   

Preceeding the catastrophic Toulouse outrage by days, an innocent twelve-year old Gaza boy was on his way to school one morning when an Israeli drone cut him down from above. His upper body was discovered in a search of the neighborhood when he didn't show up for school; it had been blown into some brush.  His poor mother is beyond consolation.

The suffering of children in all conflicts is clearly what the Baroness laments. But for the children of Gaza, this, apparently, is beyond the pale.

The now-deceased Toulouse shooting suspect is alleged to have committed his heinous acts to avenge the suffering of Palestinian children (as well as France's participation in the military occupation of Afghanistan.)  This is the reasoning of a deranged man.  One does not garner the world's sympathy for the atrocities your foe commits against you by committing atrocities. Such inexplicable acts only further the false claim that there are no partners for peace on the other side.

Link:  Baroness Ashton should resign over her appalling remarks equating Toulouse with Gaza – Telegraph Blogs

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