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5 Aug, 2014

O.P. Rana: Please, stop bombing Gaza for the sake of children

By Op Rana (China Daily)

2014-08-04 – “Please stop! I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please! Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! I am thinking above all of children, who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, of a future … Dead children, injured children, mutilated children, orphaned children, children whose toys are things left over from war, children who can’t smile any more.”

Please, stop for the sake of childrenThese are the words of Pope Francis, speaking at Saint Peter’s Square on July 27; the Pope’s voice seemed to crack with emotion as he broke off from his written script to appeal for peace as Israel and Hamas dilly-dallied over proposals for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip before Eid. But Pope Francis’s desperate call seems to have been paid little heed in a world that seems to have gone astray.

Why should the world be bothered about 1,600 Palestinians killed in Gaza in the Israeli offensive against Hamas since July 8? It has more important matters to attend to, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 for example, because that is where the real action is. And why not? The Ukraine crisis is a de facto standoff between the world’s only superpower and a country that seems opposed to everything that the superpower represents. The battle for supremacy is likely to be decided on the burnt soils of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine where the MH17 crashed, not in the poor and dilapidated homes bombed in Gaza.

So what if five UN facilities have been hit in Gaza? So what if a hospital has been razed? So what if a power station that supplied electricity and facilitated the supply of water to most of the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza has been set ablaze.

Why should we even hear the death wails of tens of thousands of men, women and children when we cannot cash them in for money? In a world where every action is judged good or bad on its potential to generate material returns, where is the need to pay attention to a few hundred lost lives and the thousands more that have been shattered? Isn’t there a more lucrative battle with the potential to decide the fate of the world raging along the borders of Ukraine and Russia?

The world may be “solemnly” observing the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. But is there any need for it today to worry about “where have all the flowers gone”? This is the world of capital, of “disaster management”, of “free marketers” as designed by the Milton Friedman propagated Chicago School of economics. This is the world of neocons who harness “the full force of the US military machine’, as Naomi Klein puts it, in the service of corporate agenda and thus profit.

The small world of Palestinians, the world of Edward Saids and Mahmoud Darwishes, the world that could be understood by Israelis if only they had even a fraction of the vision of an Amos Oz, lies in tatters. And it will continue to be so because it doesn’t have the potential to be of any importance to this fractured and potentially self-destructive world.

But lest we forget, Palestine is the source of all that has been disturbing the Islamic world. It’s another matter that we refuse to see Palestine for what it is. The more Palestinians are denied their right to dignified existence, the more anger it will generate across the Muslim world, which, at times, will don the ferocious garb of terrorism and, at others, will break out into open rebellion and even war.

Can we please, as Lu Xun appealed in A Madman’s Diary, “save the children” at least?

The author is a senior editor with China Daily. E-mail: oprana@hotmail.com.