Collective punishment: easier to condemn in Gaza than Yarmouk

The Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus has been under siege by forces of the Assad regime since last July and 28 of the residents have already starved to death. Yet the pro-Palestinian movement which never fails to raise its voice in outrage about the effects of an Israeli siege on Gaza, is reluctant to takes sides when it comes to Syria.

Talal Alyan writes: While you were insisting on neutrality about Yarmouk, the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs on it. Mohammad Al Far. Husam Abo Ahmad. Mohammad Tafori. Mohammad Suhaib Al Qides. Ala’a Fri’j. These men are all dead. Mohammad Taha would later die too when he, along with a larger demonstration, approached a regime checkpoint in frustration after the carnage rained on them from above.

The Pro-Palestinian movement was delayed in picking up on the tragic unraveling of Yarmouk. It took the work of a great deal of dedicated activists to force it into the forefront of the solidarity movement’s agenda. What couldn’t be predicted, however, was that, in the place of silence, an ugly neutrality would hover over the new-founded concern. And that said the neutrality was often an unconvincing veil for something much more vile. Perhaps, in our naivety, we believe that when Yarmouk became visible, it would be nearly impossible to omit the clear fact that the siege was being imposed by the Syrian regime. Instead, it was the oppositional fighters in the camp who fell under the spotlight. A chorus emerged, one familiar enough to evoke a surreal sense of Déjà vu.

Yarmouk had transformed into Gaza. But this time, it was our side that was rationalizing the blockage, entertaining and validating the motives offered for collective punishment, instead of flatly rejecting it as a cruel practice. [Continue reading…]

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