Prime Minister David Cameron during his recent visit to Turkey warned that the Gaza Strip “cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.” Britain, however, along with the rest of the European community, and of course, Washington, are ambivalent guardians of the self-described prison camp run by Israel, with Egyptian assistance. The prisoners, of course, want their freedom. And so too it seems does Israel’s right-wing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has emerged as an unlikely proponent of ending Israel’s status as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip.
Cameron’s prison camp description gave voice among critics to uncomfortable associations with some of the worst excesses of Nazi Germany. Some apologists for Gaza’s strangulation have, certainly unintentionally, evoked similar associations. The shameful press attention paid to the appearance of a new shopping mall in Gaza and the fine fare on offer at one of the Strip’s restaurants by those anxious to give lie to the pain and suffering caused by the siege is a particularly evocative case in point. The efforts by Gaza’s besieged population to create a semblance of normality, like the orchestra of the Warsaw ghetto, is a lasting testament to the triumph of the best instincts of human spirit over those who would crush it. Did the reaffirmation of humanity by Jews staring into the abyss negate the gruesome, bestial reality of the ghetto? And so it is with Gaza.
The casualties of the “freedom flotilla” sailing out of Turkey highlighted the malign neglect of the international diplomatic community in this engineered calamity and roused Washington to demand welcome, if minor, changes in the draconian border regime. These less than half measures, however, do not offer even the hint of an end to the regime of collective punishment that Gazans are being forced to endure.