1947-2009: Partition, spiritual and physical, continues…

In 1947, India was partitioned, resulting in war (Indo-Pakistan War) and misery that continues intermittently yet punishing to this day, with no obvious visible peace-to-come. The UN partition of the so-called British Mandate of Palestine in 1947 also erupted in war, and the miseries continue, unbearably, as we all see in the news these days.

Trying to take an intelligent, compassionate, expansive (let alone moral) stand with so much loss of civilian life, and a battle that is so archly divided by intelligent, and probably good, people, is virtually impossible for me. It’s like looking at a rotting corpse with a flashlight and believing in the least rotten spot. The magnitude and weight of the past and the present is overwhelming and obfuscated, in both India/Pakistan and the so-called Holy Land.

The news, so often, does not help at all—on the contrary, divides people, and gives unilateral arguments for those who seek them. Nonetheless, a little conversation in a little community paper in Charlotte, with a Palestinian merchant who lived in Gaza, reminded me of the details and the nuances that are left out of so much heavy-handed, headline news.

Either way, would it not be correct to say that, whatever one’s argument, the lives of the Palestinian citizen in Gaza and the West Bank (the Occupied Territories)—their quality of life markers, perhaps—must be at present, dismal, bordering on hopeless? And unlike Israeli citizens, Palestinian citizens, not backed by an sort of military defense force, have no real means whatsoever to protect themselves or their families from being bombed into oblivion by military power in the extreme. What else could be done but to throw one’s hands up to the heavens and weep? And what could be done differently?

Something needs to be done, for as Dante once wrote:

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.”


I keep hearing about the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, built only by unstoppable terrorists for the transport of arms and to kill because, I keep hearing, that clearly all Palestinians must think: “We are going to win because they love life and we love death.”

Actually, according to former Punta Gorda (Gaza) resident Amer Shriteh, the tunnels are largely for the transport of goods, in the name of capitalism, for the actual survival of people in Gaza, embargoed from the world in so many ways, for so many years.

Anyway, the piece is not earth-shattering, but it is an interesting reminder of how, under such duress, one grand truth remains: most people, under siege, are just trying to desperately survive and feed their families, despite the depravities of Power.

This was also seen after the brutal attacks in Mumbai. The day after the massacre there, with a city in shock, the poor in the massive slums of Mumbai, were out in their usual force, like everyday, trying to get enough to eat.

White Tiger novelist Aravind Adiga, who lives in Mumbai, put it thus:

“It wasn’t just a bomb. This was an invasion. It felt more personal. So there is still anxiety and fear. No one trusts the police, or has any confidence that the government is in control. Business in restaurants is 25% down. Only the poor must continue as before because, of course, they have no choice. For them, it is as if nothing has happened. In this way, they are putting the middle classes to shame.

Imagine living in Palestine—what could you have confidence in? From the article by Greg Martin in the Charlotte Sun community paper:

Unable to import merchandise since Israel blockaded the borders in 2006, Palestinian merchants in the Gaza Strip began digging tunnels—as many as a thousand—to smuggle in supplies, according to former Punta Gorda resident Amer Shriteh.

Shriteh knows firsthand.

Shriteh, 43, has long owned and operated an appliance store in Gaza City—and he began purchasing merchandise himself from tunnel traders as the territory’s residents grew desperate for supplies, he said.

“I got TV parts, radios, irons, telephones, washing machines and water heaters from the tunnels,” he said. “I am the first one that bought TVs through the tunnels, the fifth one to buy ceiling fans.”

Others shipped produce, canned goods and propane tanks through the tunnels, he said…

Amer Shriteh said there’s no doubt Hamas and other factions, including the Popular Front, Jihad and Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, have built their own tunnels to smuggle weapons.

Those tunnels are made of concrete and steel, he said.

“Every faction has its secure tunnel and nobody knows where it is,” Amer said.

But hundreds more tunnels were dug by hand by civilian entrepreneurs and laborers, he said. Those tunnels are typically no bigger than 3 square feet, he said.

So many tunnels have been dug along the 4.8-mile stretch of Egyptian border that there have been times when workers in one tunnel have accidentally dug through the wall of another tunnel, he said.

The merchandise is typically shipped in barrels that are cut in half. Communicating by intercom, workers “crawl like cats” to drag the cargo with ropes from the Egyptian side, he said.

“This is a business,” Amer Shriteh said. “It’s just a job.”

The rest of the article is here.

So many humans, heck, almost all humans—painted the color of terrorists or State Terrorists by political leaders and newspaper propaganda—are simply trying to feed a family, sleep at night, and get along with neighbours of whatever race and creed.

Like most of us, they could use a little love and remembering.

Lots of love to you,

Pete xox


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