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Toulouse and Gaza - Should EU's Baroness Ashton Resign?

Diane V. McLoughlin,

March 23, 2012

Nile Gardiner, writing in The Telegraph (link, below,) argues that Baroness
Ashton, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,
should resign for comments she made at the recent UNRWA conference,
'Palestine refugees in the changing Middle East.' (UNRWA: United Nations
Relief and Work Agency.)

I disagree. Baroness Ashton should be commended.  She stated the following:

"We are gathered here because we have recognised the potential of the youth
of Palestine. Against all the odds, they continue to learn, to work, to dream
and aspire to a better future. And the days when we remember young people
who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian
children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of
what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in
Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see
what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world – we
remember young people and children who lose their lives. Here are young
people who are asking not to be leaders of the future, but to be taken seriously
as leaders of today. And it is to them that we should look and to them we
should listen and it is to them that I pay tribute."

Mr. Gardiner writes that, 'The comments drew an angry response from Israeli

Tough.  First of all, this suggests that some Israeli leaders represent all of
Jewish opinion. Nothing could be further from the truth.  There are
contemporary Jewish writers; philosophers; and political leaders; there are
rabbis as well as Jewish historians, who argue for the civil liberties of all
people in Israel-Palestine.  However, there are others who are not interested
in equal rights in Israel-Palestine.  And the latter are a threat to the long-term
stability of Israel.  They also contribute to the fear that they will  increase anti-
Semitism for Jews throughout the world.

excellent article by Jewish Voice for Peace's 'Muzzlewatch' helps bring
context into the discussion. In early September, 2011, despite months in the
planning between the Museum of Children's Art of Oakland, California
(MOCHA) and Berkley California's Middle East Children's Alliance
(MECA), a planned exhibit of Gaza children's art was abruptly cancelled, due
to intense pressure brought to bear against it by several local Jewish groups.  
The art depicts childrens' experiences during Israel's 2008-2009 assault on
Gaza, known as 'Operation Cast Lead.' (Cancelling the exhibit probably did
not have the intended effect. As evidenced here, it helped raised the exhibit's
profile, instead.)

Below: From the exhibit, 'A Child's View From Gaza'   

These attempts to censor all discussion of the immense suffering daily being
inflicted upon 1.5 million men, women and children in Gaza, that seek to stifle
all peaceful advocacy within civil society toward securing their freedom as
well as clinching an end to the conflict, create a pressure cooker of
hopelessness, despair and frustrated rage.

Newspapers should be responsible enough not to provide a platform for
anyone who would seem to insinuate that some children are of more intrinsic
worth than others. I fail to see what other conclusion I am encouraged to
reach, than this, from reading Mr. Gardiner's piece.

The public discourse is now far advanced from such ignorance regarding the
oppression of the Palestinian people, as well as Gardiner's blatant pro-Israel
bias that flies in the face of the facts. He trots out the tired propaganda that
Israel is a "fully democratic government...which goes to extraordinary lengths
to avoid civilian casualties"; both platitudes are proveably false.  

The fact of the matter is that deflecters in no way serve Israel's long-term
interest, if her interest is peace, which I argue it is. Turning attention away
from Israel's current deeply flawed and racist reality prolongs, rather than
shortens, the conflict.    

Preceeding the
catastrophic Toulouse outrage by days, an innocent twelve-
year old Gaza boy was on his way to school one morning when an Israeli
drone cut him down from above. His upper body was discovered in a search
of the neighborhood when he didn't show up for school; it had been blown
into some brush.  His poor mother is
beyond consolation.

The suffering of children in all conflicts is clearly what the Baroness laments.
But for the children of Gaza, this, apparently, is beyond the pale.

The now-deceased Toulouse shooting suspect is alleged to have committed
his heinous acts to avenge the suffering of Palestinian children (as well as
France's participation in the military occupation of Afghanistan.)  This is the
reasoning of a deranged man.  One does not garner the world's sympathy for
the atrocities your foe commits against you by committing atrocities. Such
inexplicable acts only further the false claim that there are no partners for
peace on the other side.


Baroness Ashton should resign over her appalling remarks equating
Toulouse with Gaza; – Nile Gardiner; Telegraph Blogs

Comments to the above article are welcome and can be posted at my blog.
Comments are fully moderated, and can take a little time to appear.


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