‘Gaza: a siege within a siege’

Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:25PM
Interview with Ramzy Baroud Author of “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story.”

Writer Ramzy Baroud
“There is always hope,” Ramzy Baroud explained as he spoke of his new book My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story and the upcoming challenges for the people of Palestine in Gaza.

Press TV interviewed Mr. Baroud Editor and Chief of the Palestine Chronicle, and Author of My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story regarding the future of Gaza.

Press TV: It’s always been difficult to watch scenes in Gaza. You chronicled your family’s life from 1948 when they became refugees, and were forced into what became the overcrowded Gaza strip from other parts of historic Palestine. Gaza is just like this chip in a wider game. Isn’t that the problem? Do you see some hope now with the fall of the Mubarak regime or more waiting?

Baroud: There is always hope. There has to be hope because without it we would just have to accept the fact that this is the reality of it. Palestinians are suffering and we just view them and look at their situation from a purely humanitarian type of crisis view point, which is not exactly the case. The suffering in Gaza is not the result of a natural disaster.

The suffering in Gaza is very much a political issue, and this is what I try to do in my book to address the history that led to what is happening in Gaza, which again is something we like to think of as being related to Hamas, and elections, but it’s actually not at all. In fact Gaza has been under siege for the last 62 years. But it is a type of protracted type of siege like a siege within a siege. There hasn’t been a time in the history of Gaza when there has been no siege at all.

Press TV: Isn’t it true that each new situation that seems hopeful still imposes some kind of siege. For example Mubarak might be gone, but it does not [mean that] the new regime coming up in Egypt have to wait for interaction with Palestine to not bring on the eye of the United States?

Baroud: Exactly. I think freezing a question can determine the answer. If we are going to believe that what is happening in Egypt is that of a new regime then we might end up having a problem there as well. If it’s a new government elected by the people, then they would have to carry out the wishes of the Egyptian people. We really don’t need to conduct any polls to see what Egyptians think of the siege on Gaza. The similarities between Egypt and Palestine are historic. It goes back to a very long time ago before Israel even existed as a state.

Press TV: We can accept that. We can accept that the hearts of Arab people were with another people while surely accepting Egypt’s under a new government is going to be in a shaky economic position, and in no position to take on Israel.

Baroud: Israel is very vulnerable right now, and I think outside powers are very much aware of this vulnerability. David Cameron, in his first visit to Egypt three days after Mubarak was overthrown, took arms dealers with him. They offered weapons to the army. The IMF offered Egypt all sorts of packages and they are trying to entangle into all of these commitments because they know there is going to be a moment of truth. There will be elections in which the Egyptian government will have to make a new set of policies and of course Gaza is the immediate issue that they will have to address. I hope the democratic process in Egypt continues as it’s now, so it will yield the results that will benefit the Egyptian people and by extension the people in Palestine.

Press TV: What about Libya? You have just written an article about the growing situation there. Foreign intervention was welcomed by some and ridiculed by some and it’s certainly dangerous in the area. How will this impact Palestine?

Baroud: Well what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries was the people taking charge. The people have always been discounted in these political situations. Neo-colonialism took over after the traditional colonialism parted, and Arab regimes have constantly negotiated their relationship with American imperialism and western presence in their countries. That yielded two things: the radical Arabs who were seen as in unfavorable terms by the West and those who were moderate. The people were completely out of this equation. They had nothing to do with this mess. And suddenly here they are articulating a new agenda. It’s the agenda of the people. We saw it happen and it’s very much real.

What happened in Libya is a western attempt at retaking the initiatives from the Arab people, and it’s very sad that this is actually happening right now. It’s very humiliating because it was not about them. It was not about the agenda and their definition of democracy. In fact the heart of the problem in the first place is that Libya does not by any means need American, British and French intervention to solve their problems if they were in fact the ones who created the problems in the first place.

NM/PKH

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