Thursday, February 1, 2007

Sara Roy: A powerful Jewish conscience

On my flight from London To Cairo I was reading Sara Roy's latest book Failing Peace- Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

I can only recommend this read to everyone considering she is one of the most knowledgeable people writing about Gaza today. But since it is rather an expensive book and you may not have time for such leisurely things I will provide some quotes and then include a thoughts from an article she wrote a while back trying to summarize the Gaza situation. One of the main reasons I want to share this is because Sara paints a picture of a society in Gaza that has had the foundation beneath its feet taken apart one brick at a time until there is almost nothing left. This, along with poor leadership is what allows for the violence we see on the streets of Gaza today.

"Justice applied selectively is no longer justice, but discrimination." - Sara Roy

Introducing the book she explains her Jewish heritage, as both of her parents are survivors of the Holocaust. Applying this past to her current living out her Jewishness, she quotes Brian Klug, "we do not honor the dead if, in memorializing them, we dishonor the living."

And then speaking on the theme of DISSENT, Sara goes on, "why is it so difficult, even impossible to accommodate Palestinians into the Jewish understanding of history? Why is there so little perceived need to question our own narrative and the one we have given others, preferring instead to embrace beliefs and sentiments that remain inert? Why is it virtually mandatory among Jewish intellectuals to oppose racism, repression and injustice almost anywhere in the world and almost unacceptable- indeed for some an act of heresy- to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor?" - Sara Roy

"What have we as a people made from suffering and perhaps more importantly what are we to do with our fear?" - Sara Roy

On the DE-DEVELOPMENT of Gaza Today

Overview: In one of many reports and accounts of economic life in the Gaza Strip that I have recently read, I was struck by a description of an old man standing on the beach in Gaza throwing his oranges into the sea. The description leapt out at me because it was this very same scene I myself witnessed some 21 years ago during my very first visit to the territory. It was the summer of 1985 and I was taken on a tour of Gaza by a friend named Alya. As we drove along Gaza's coastal road I saw an elderly Palestinian man standing at the shoreline with some boxes of oranges next to him. I was puzzled by this and asked Alya to stop the car. One by one, the elderly Palestinian took an orange and threw it into the water. His was not an action of playfulness but of pain and regret. His movements were slow and labored as if the weight of each orange was more than he could bear. I asked my friend why he was doing this and she explained that he was prevented from exporting his oranges to Israel and rather than watch them rot in his orchards, the old man chose to cast them into the sea. I have never forgotten this scene and the impact it had on me.

Over two decades later, after peace agreements, economic protocols, road maps and disengagements, Gazans are still casting their oranges into the sea. Yet Gaza is no longer where I found it so long ago but someplace far worse and more dangerous. One year after Israel's 2005 "disengagement" from the Strip, which was hailed by President Bush as a great opportunity for "the Palestinian people to build a modern economy that will lift millions out of poverty [and] create the institutions and habits of liberty,"[i] a "Dubai on the Mediterranean"[ii] according to Thomas Friedman, Gaza is undergoing acute and debilitating economic declines marked by unprecedented levels of poverty, unemployment, loss of trade, and social deterioration especially with regard to the delivery of health and educational services.

Read a full article of Sara's on today's Gaza situation here

1 comment:

J4CK13 said...

Wow. What a powerful picture (both the photo and Sara's commentary) of the hopelessness Palestinians feel in the shadow of the oppression they live under.