Sometimes in the West we close our eyes to events in the world. It seems that we can only take in one problem at any time. It was Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya, then Syria and now Palestine. Each time new atrocities and deaths occur we take in the news, intervene to make things worse, and then turn the page as our attention gets grabbed by another war or another disaster. In Palestine many people are in peril, and have been in peril for many years. They have suffered tremendously over many years and in the West we have ignored their suffering.
The small area of Gaza comprises 150 square miles and holds 1.6 million people. It should be treated as a state, but it is treated as a dangerous inconvenience. The people who live there are genuinely oppressed; they do not have sufficient food or medicines, they cannot easily trade, they are surrounded by a powerful enemy and they find that there legitimate desire for freedom and statehood refused.
Today Gaza is being bombed ruthlessly. It has previously sent rockets into Israel and those rockets have disturbed the peace in Israel. Now Gaza suffers from a massive retaliation. The people of Gaza knew that firing rockets would provoke a response, and that the response would be disproportionate, but they are desperate people and desperate people everywhere fight for their freedoms when there is no other way of achieving them.
A great deal of money and time has been spent on talking about peace. Many leaders and former leaders talk about the importance of peace. All sides talk of peace, but their fine speeches refuse to accept one very important fact: peace without freedom is something that no people should be obliged to accept, and peace without permitting others to be free is never possible. That seems to be the essential starting point for any peace plan but instead of starting from that premise people start from the premise that the violence should first stop before talking about peace. If that mindset continues peace in the region will never be achieved because an oppressed people value freedom more than peace.