…no human being who visits can remain untouched by the terrible devastation that one sees here in Gaza… the devastation of peoples’ livelihoods is 10 times more shocking~ United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, during a visit to Gaza in April 2015
We have not visited the subject of the Human Development Index under attack in occupied territories in quite some time. Decreasing HDI trends in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and of course, in Palestine. But due to the misplaced energy caused by “faith-washing” — which is the practice of highjacking the interfaith exchange platform regarding the Holy Land– to “engage” on everything in the Holy Land, EXCEPT social justice issues, the time has come to revisit the socio-economic conditions in Gaza, the worst hit in bombing campaigns. Such socio-economic conditions metastisize, like a cancer, in Occupied territories when social justice scholars and activists are sidelined, if not dismissed, by misinformed Muslim participants funded by the Shalom Hartman Institute. In turn, peaceful efforts, like the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, are also sidelined and later dismissed as “non-engagement” tactics. As Dr. Hatem Bazain noted, “BDS does not oppose people visiting, touring and discussing issues pertaining to conditions in Palestine,” as social activist may reflect from the earlier South Africa experience in combating apartheid through peaceful engagement.
The Gaza Strip “could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current economic trends persist” after 8 years of an economic blockade, declared The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in its report last week. Gaza has a population of 4.5 million. In the event Gaza reaches this dismal juncture, how will Gaza’s 4.5 million access water to drink and grow food?
Unemployment stood at 44 percent, according to the reports findings. It is no surprise considering that socio-economic conditions regarding access to water rights, healthcare, and schools, have been on the decline since 1967,
Basically, the report traced other effects of the Israeli occupation. In particular, the occupation has disrupted donating agencies’ efforts to provide funds and services to Gazans: “the efficacy of donor support has been undermined by occupation, not by the inadequacy of Palestinian National Authority policies or poor donor coordination.”
Here are some other important factoids to share around the office cooler or bus station.
- The number of settlers has quadrupled between 1993 to 1995, despite the Oslo Accords.
The economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory shrank by 0.4 per cent in 2014, and will likely shrink again in 2015.
- The 2014 Gaza attacks by Israeli bombing resulted in 26 schools destroyed and 18 hospitals hit.
Israel collects taxes on Palestinian imports on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority andthen transfers them to the Authority after levying 3 per cent collection and processing fees.
So the next time a faith-washing activist or scholar purports to be engaging to establish common ground across faiths, kindly ask him or her: What kind of state collects taxes from people who are not considered its citizens — yet also has the power to withhold social services? What does his or her faith say about social justice and equitable treatment?