Patrick Seale reviews an important new book – Histoire de Gaza – by Professer Jean-Pierre Filiu of the Institute for Political Science in Paris.
by Patrick Seale
Agence Global, 18 Oct 2012
One of the most urgent tasks for the international community in 2013 must surely be to lift Israel’s cruel siege of Gaza — now entering its sixth year — and end the misguided boycott of its Hamas government. There is hardly a more flagrant example of injustice in the world today than the situation of the 1.6 million inhabitants of this hugely over-crowded Strip — many of them refugees driven out of Palestine by the new Israeli state in 1947-48. They must be allowed to live a normal life — to travel, to manufacture, to trade, to educate their children — free from the constant danger of Israeli air strikes.
French scholar Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor at the prestigious Institute of Political Science in Paris, has published an important 400-page history of Gaza, from ancient times to the disturbed present. His Histoire de Gaza (Editions Fayard, Paris, 2012) is the most comprehensive ever written and should be required reading for all those concerned with the long agony of the Palestinians in their struggle for statehood.
It is impossible in a short article to do justice to Filiu’s sweeping narrative, meticulous research and detailed findings, but it is perhaps worth pointing out that he lays blame for the as yet unresolved and indeed worsening crisis on three main actors:
- first and foremost on Israel, concerned only with its own security and brutally indifferent to Palestinian life;
- secondly, on Fatah and Hamas, those old rivals, still locked in a fratricidal struggle as if unaware that their national cause is slipping away before their eyes;
- and thirdly, on the humanitarian aid provided by the international community which has kept Gaza’s population alive but has also, paradoxically, prevented Gaza’s economic development and its efforts at self-sufficiency.
Phi Beta Iota: Gaza is the worst of 5,000 distinct geo-cultural communities under seige. It represents the complete absence of ethics in Western “diplomacy.”