protest and gaza

The feet of one of three Palestinian siblings from the Al-samoni family, killed by an Israeli tank shell, are seen in the mortuary of Al-Shifa hospital, on January 5, 2009 in Gaza City. Seven members from the Al-samoni family were killed including the mother, three children and a baby, when an Israeli shell struck their house south of Gaza city. (Abid Katib/Getty Images,

Marc Ambinder writes

Many a friend has asked me what I think of the Israeli invasion. I have some private thoughts on the subject, but they’re not particularly interesting. I’ve studied enough, prayed enough, spent enough time in Israel to get the hang of why the conflict appears so tragic and intractable…

and tries to recruit some thoughts from Jeff Goldberg, an Israeli reporter. Jeff writes that

…nothing works for very long in the Middle East. Gaza is where dreams of reconciliation go to die. Gaza is where the dream of Palestinian statehood goes to die; Gaza is where the Zionist dream might yet die. […] My paralysis isn’t an analytical paralysis. It’s the paralysis that comes from thinking that maybe there’s no way out. Not out of Gaza, out of the whole thing.”

Here, journalists on the ground in Gaza talk to a Current Vanguard reporter:

What has happened in Gaza is/was, as far as I can tell, cruel, pointless, and another example of how little we know as human beings about how not to totally fuck everything up. It is nauseating to watch the father lamenting the death of his daughter, alive just two hours before. I feel that I have to respond, but in the face of this overwhelming suffering and with such overwhelming problems, is that the right way to be thinking? The above smart people who have actually been there, etc., sound like they are stating the truth of the situation to me; for my own actions, that is where I would leave it (with thanks that U.S. role in the region will probably be a lot different with Obama). But I have been prompted by other people to do more to protest the obscene amounts of innocent death in Gaza, through small gestures like groups on Facebook or marching in protests with signs. It feels wrong and weirdly beside the point to me, but a lot of people feel strongly about it, so here goes.

As best I can tell, whatever solutions can be found to change, even in small ways, the situation will come not from protests or activism. Everyone who is at all directly connected to the conflict is desperately aware what everyone thinks, and has their own idea of justice worked out. Protests have become background noise, even at a large scale; a hundred million Europeans protesting couldn’t stop Bush from invading Iraq. Politics has changed a great deal, and needs new tactics. (I have some ideas about that, but most people seem to be protesters, cynics, or oblivious, so I have some issues with finding someone who gives a shit.) Protest may be better than doing nothing, but that is about all it is. Like Marc, I am aware of how beside the point my own judgments and needs for action are, yet keep trying to create some activity, find something to do to push away the horror as it unfolds.

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