Gaza’s Desperate ‘Prison Riot’

The noble traditions of Judaism stressing justice for the downtrodden are being soiled by the endless cruelties that Israel and its current leaders heap on the Palestinians, including the latest slaughter of more than 1,700 Gazans, many of them children, a moral catastrophe addressed by theologian Daniel C. Maguire.

By Daniel C. Maguire

What is going on in Gaza is a prison riot not a war. A war means a conflict between comparably endowed adversaries. This is a prison riot caused by the crimes of the jailor, Israel. And why are these 1.7 million people enclosed in what Jewish scholar Marc Ellis calls “the biggest jail in the world?” They are in jail because they are not Jews. That is their crime.

Were they Jews, they would be given beautiful homes, ample water supplies, government stipends. The fourth strongest army in the world and the sixth strongest nuclear power would be there to defend them. But, no, because the Gazans are not Jews, they are in an Israeli jail.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

These jailed people — or at least their parents and grandparents — once had homes and gardens, olive groves and farms and lived peacefully on the land alongside all their neighbors. In the Nineteenth Century, Palestine was inhabited by a multicultural population, 86 percent Muslim, 10 percent Christian and four percent Jewish. They all lived peacefully together. The State of Israel changed all of that.

Jailors do not like riots. Riots call attention to conditions in the jail. The jailors, having little to fear from the homemade weapons of the prisoners, can suppress the riot violently with their superior weapons and inflict brutal punishment on all those in the jail, even those who did not or could not protest. The jailors will claim that what they are doing is self-defense geared to produce peace in the prison and restore law and order.

Seven years ago, Israel, the thousand pound gorilla, the Goliath of the Middle East, perpetrated an offensive act of war called a siege or blockade against the children, women and men of Gaza because Israel and its lapdog, the United States, did not like the results of Gaza’s election. In an unmatchable triumph of ersatz propaganda, Israel has been able to dupe many saying it is threatened by the impoverished prisoners in Gaza and the occupied people in the West Bank and part of Jerusalem.

Rather than end the blockade of Gaza, Israel is now refusing even to discuss it in negotiations; this is unleashing the “final solution” to the Gaza “problem.” This should be called Operation Holocaust. It is the completion of the ethnic cleansing that drove over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, deceptively called “the war of independence” by the Israelis, al Nakba, the catastrophe, by the Palestinians.

The tunnels that were economic lifelines, as well as ways of getting some defensive weapons, are being destroyed by Israel and their ignoble allies the dictators in Egypt. The genocidal steps are being taken one by one; all the essentials of life are being removed, water, electricity, medicine, food, housing while the U.S. Senate, in an epic display of pusillanimity, votes unanimously to bless the slaughter.

AIPAC boasts that it can remove any member of the U.S. Congress who does not do its bidding. It has proved that in cases like Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard. There is not a single Profile in Courage in the U.S. Senate, not even Bernie Sanders. They all cower before AIPAC as does the White House.

AIPAC-ocracy replaces democracy in U.S. policy re Israel. Our Congress is AIPAC-occupied territory. And with a few exceptions such as Jewish Voices For Peace, American Jews, who are the backbone of AIPAC, are underwriting events with their telling silence.

The piercing irony is this: what Israel is doing, and American Jews are largely supporting, is not Jewish. It is heretical to the prophetic moral vision of the Hebrews with their passion for “orphans, widows, and immigrants,” with their conviction, as Isaiah put it, that only when you plant justice can you reap peace. (Isaiah 32:17) Israel’s rapacious policy toward the Palestinians is heretical to the rich moral tradition that the early Hebrews bequeathed to the world.

You can almost hear the Hebrew prophets crying out to Israel: “Have you eyes and cannot see? Have you ears and cannot hear?” Modern Israel is deaf to Micah’s plea that you cannot build “Zion in bloodshed.” (Micah 3:10) The great Abraham Heschel worried at the founding of Israel that the state of Israel could become alienated from Judaism. That, I aver, is precisely what has happened.

Daniel C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is author of A Moral Creed for All Christians. He can be reached at [email protected]

7 comments for “Gaza’s Desperate ‘Prison Riot’

  1. Robert
    August 4, 2014 at 23:15

    Great article and absolutely correct. I’m fed up with what Israel is doing, enough of this “war” already. Not to mention the dismal reality that voting is all but meaningless, given the power of corporate America and AIPAC as they poison our political system more every year. I’m 65 and about done with voting, We have a one party system disguised as a two party system when we should have a multiple party system. Add to that the increasingly dominant “low information voter” and it’s a recipe for political hopelessness. A solution I’d like to see would be for the US government to be fair about the Hamas/Israel conflict. Alternate years of funding for military support, one year give Hamas millions of taxpayer money for weapons, the next year give an equal amount to Israel. Level the playing field, so to speak. IMHO

    • Hillary
      August 5, 2014 at 06:46

      “one year give Hamas millions of taxpayer money for weapons, ”
      Robert on August 4, 2014 at 11:15 pm.

      Robert would you kindly explain your comment above.
      G.W.Bush et al claimed that there was NO Palestine democracy to deal with so Palestinians had an election & elected HAMAS.
      Israel immediately deemed Hamas as a terrorist organization & “WAS ABLE” to convince the US to agree.
      As far as I know Hamas has never received “millions of taxpayer money for weapons, ”
      Alison Weir – The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel .

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 5, 2014 at 08:50

      Robert, you and I are the same age, and I feel as you do. Instead of giving equal military aid to Israel and Hamas, let’s give only the Palestinians humanitarian aid. God, knows the Palestinian people could use it. No more aid to Israel for anything. Then throw this whole Zionist occupation thing up to a worldly higher court to determine how to deal with this region of land. Implement what Marshall had advised Truman to do back in 1948.

      One last thing; no more dual citizenship people serving in any American political office positions…none!

      • F. G. Sanford
        August 5, 2014 at 10:35

        Amen, Brother!

  2. Elizabeth
    August 4, 2014 at 20:32

    Good article; however, using the term ‘Prison riot’ to describe what is happening inside is misleading because it implies that the people of Gaza are the ones perpetrating the violence, when in fact it is the rogue state of Israel that has unleashed a torrent of violent death upon a population of defenseless civilians. Also, in a prison there is security, food, water and shelter; 300k displaced Gazans currently enjoy none of these.

  3. JWalters
    August 4, 2014 at 20:09

    God did tell Moses to “Put Justice above all”. But the religious supremacist Jews think that does not apply to non-Jews. Since they run Israel, that appeal will have no effect on Israeli policies.

    I hope Jewish Americans will respond to your appeal in large numbers. Perhaps they will be helped by knowing more of the historical details of Israel’s establishment.

  4. Marnie
    August 4, 2014 at 17:58

    Thank you for this diary. I totally agree though I call it shooting ducks in a barrel and Israel created the barrel and threw the duck in to shoot at.

    Israel is a perfect example of why governments need to stay out of the religion business. Faith and bureaucracy are as different and oil and vinegar. If mixed in proper proportions and used wisely they make a great salad dressing, if not dinner is a disaster.

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