As Israeli troops disengage from the Gaza Strip, the question remains as to what happens now to Gaza and who is responsible for its reconstruction. Israel is being called upon, within and outside the so-called peace talks, to reverse restrictions on travel, construction goods, energy, and other economic-building devices. But Israel should not be held responsible for the rebuilding of Gaza. Although the international community left it to Israel to root out the forces of violent terror ensconced in tunnels, hospitals, schools and playgrounds, the international community bears responsibility for what Gaza has become. Here’s a little look:
The United States: Our government has often mistaken elections for democracy, a foolish and dangerous conflation of an act with a belief system. When the Bush Administration demanded open elections in Egypt and Gaza, the results were predictable to everybody except the Bush Administration: The Muslim Brotherhood snagged 20% of the Egyptian Parliamentary vote in 2005, and in 2006 Gazans chose to oust the brazen thieves and incompetent administrators of the PLO in favor of Hamas. Secretary of State Condi Rice actually stated afterward that “nobody saw it coming … it does say something about us not having a good pulse.” Well, I saw it coming, and so did everybody I know. You can’t blame Egyptians or Gazans for wanting to rid themselves of leadership that cares more about lining their own pockets than building up their own people. But of course what they got was far worse than what they had.
Egypt: Yes, we’ll take back the Sinai but you keep Gaza. That seems to have been the message delivered to Israel when initiatives for peace began in the late ‘70s. The original Camp David agreements called for transition to independent rule in Gaza and the West Bank but that never happened after the UN balked at being left out of the talks. Israel clearly wanted to be rid of Gaza but couldn’t find anybody to take it off her hands.
United Nations: The UN has spent decades creating a self-perpetuating bureaucracy at UNRWA, which has employed tens of thousands of people committed to keeping the people of Gaza as eternally stateless. It is the only situation I am aware of in which the definition of “refugee” is multi-generational. The UN’s own original Resolution 194 was designed, in 1949, to deal with those directly displaced by Israel’s War of Independence – a war that would have been quite unnecessary if the Arab world had accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1947. It says nothing about future generations; it does not even imply that Israel has a unique responsibility nor that Arabs have a unique status.
European Union: Like the UN, the EU is complicit in keeping the people of Gaza as perpetual refugees, paying the freight while Hamas has built up massive arsenals literally right under their noses. The EU demanded Israel allow concrete and other building materials into Gaza without any oversight as to how it was all being used.
Much of Gaza is a wasteland now, thanks to the terrorists of Hamas who buried themselves in dense population centers, knowing that Israel would do what it could to protect civilian lives. Indeed, the IDF recovered an actual published Hamas manual showing its members how to use civilians as human shields – which should (but may not) stop any nonsensical talk about Israel being charged with war crimes.
That Gaza has come to this state might be the direct result of Israel’s right to defend herself against terrorists committed to the death of Jews. But the international community must accept responsibility for what Gaza has become and join together, with Israel, in a broad effort to demilitarize Gaza once and for all and create a structure and an infrastructure that is based on peaceful coexistence.
©2014 Audrey R. Korotkin