In Gaza, No Winners Once More

Abby Zimet

Israel has again launched attacks in Gaza after Palestinian militants killed an Israeli soldier on patrol, the BBC reports here
Israel has also stopped the flow of aid supplies to Gaza's 1.5 million
residents, including tens of thousands of people displaced and injured
in Israel's three-week offensive. 

The renewed violence comes just as former
Senator George Mitchell, President Obama's Middle East
envoy, arrives in the area to try to get Israelis and Palestinians back
to peace negotiations. The choice of the well-respected, fair-minded
Mitchell, best known for brokering a long-sought peace in northern
Ireland, was encouraging news. But the latest attacks by Israel are a
grim reminder of the daunting challenges Mitchell faces. As Neve Gordon
and Yigal Bronner note in their CD Gaza story here,  "Hatred... is the great winner of this war."

More than
20 years ago, Israeli author David Grossman reached the same grievous
conclusion in "The Yellow Wind," an intimate, anguished account of several months he spent with Palestinians in the West Bank. Again and again, he writes of the terrible price the Israeli occupation exacts from both sides.

At the Deheisha
refugee camp, he describes the sense of exile and loss - of land, home,
identity, justice - that consumes so many Palestinians. "The thing most
present here is absence," he writes, "a void....which for decades has
been filling with hatred." 

Like Gordon and Bronner, Grossman talks alot about kids, many of them fourth-generation refugees who have known only the shabby camps. He visits a cold and mildewed kindergarten where there are no windows or electricity, where the "toys" are cars without wheels and the "bathroom" is a hole in the ground. 

"It is us they will hate," he writes, "these children living their whole lives in a colorless world without happiness...who spend long summer and winter hours...with the all-pervading stink rising from the "bathroom," a grotesque symbol of their situation."

Grossman explains that he took his title, "The Yellow Wind," from an Arab myth: "It tells of a hot and terrible east wind from the gate of Hell which comes once in a few generations, sets the world afire, finds those it seeks, those who have performed cruel and unjust deeds, and exterminates them, one by one."

Today, in Gaza, the wind is still brewing, for more reasons than ever. We wish George Mitchell well.

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