Put the shoe on the other foot

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Editorial -

Our recre­ational fish­ery is in full swing. When the cod mora­to­rium was im­posed in 1992 in an at­tempt to halt the de­cline in the species that had sup­ported New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans for cen­turies, there was an out­raged back­lash. The sit­u­a­tion was re­solved, as we all know, by per­mit­ting a lim­ited “recre­ational” fish­ery to al­low us to fish cod suf­fi­cient for our per­sonal needs un­der strict con­trol.

Mean­while, the com­mer­cial fish­ery, also oper­at­ing un­der strict rules, con­tin­ues to land fish for both lo­cal con­sump­tion and for ex­port.

Now, join me on the shores of Gaza, a des­per­ately poor coun­try — an en­clave, re­ally — where the peo­ple barely sur­vive un­der con­di­tions of oc­cu­pa­tion. Elec­tric­ity might be avail­able for two hours in 24; hos­pi­tals are short of both staff and equip­ment for the con­stant flow of in­juries in­curred both in ev­ery­day life and in con­flict with the Is­raeli mil­i­tary. The United Na­tions has been sound­ing the alarm for many years and now counts the pos­si­bil­ity of sur­vival of the en­clave in months.

For these peo­ple fish­ing is not a recre­ation. It is the only way that their fam­i­lies can ob­tain the pro­tein and other nu­tri­ents avail­able in fish. Up un­til re­cently Gaza fish­ers were able to take their small boats and rudi­men­tary gear out to the in­ter­na­tional 12-mile limit to find fish. The Is­raelis im­posed a six-mile limit, within which there were, of course, smaller and fewer fish. Re­cently, the Is­raelis im­posed a to­tally ar­bi­trary and un­rea­son­able three-mile limit on the fish­ers, pa­trolled by fast, pow­er­ful and heav­ily armed pa­trol boats.

We all know what such a strict limit would do to our catches here in New­found­land and Labrador. If we were pre­vented by force from go­ing to the grounds where we know the cod con­gre­gate, we could not catch our quota. If we were in Gaza, we would be re­stricted to fewer, smaller and less-nour­ish­ing fish — and as the peo­ple of Gaza are driven fur­ther and fur­ther to­wards to pol­luted, over­crowded beach — to no fish at all.

These are a peo­ple who are al­ready de­prived of most jobs, of free­dom of move­ment, whose farms are tiny and un­pro­duc­tive and of whom that the United Na­tions says that their coun­try will be un­in­hab­it­able in less than five years. The peo­ple still liv­ing in Gaza are rem­nants of the largest refugee pop­u­la­tion in the world.

The is­sue of the fish­ery is just one that the peo­ple of Gaza face in their strug­gle for sur­vival.

But if Is­rael is cal­lous in its treat­ment of Gaza, the world is watch­ing ever more closely. As I write this, the first of the Free­dom Flotilla boats, the Al Awla, car­ry­ing sol­i­dar­ity and aware­ness, as well as some med­i­cal materials for the peo­ple of Gaza, has been vi­o­lently de­tained in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, with the crew and pas­sen­gers taken to prison in Is­rael. This is a clear act of piracy on the High Seas and yet an­other in­di­ca­tion that Is­rael takes no no­tice of the stan­dards of prac­tice rec­og­nized by the demo­cratic na­tions of the world.

Marilyn Porter Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Group St. John’s

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.