It has not taken long for PM David Cameron’s likening of Gaza to a prison camp to draw ire:
Foreign Office sources suggested Downing Street had been remiss in omitting from Cameron’s speech the sort of “balancing” comments that are routinely made about Israel’s security – especially the fate of a captured soldier being held by Hamas – when its policies on the Palestinians are criticised. [Source]
While presenting my paper at last week’s conference I touched upon the subject of art and censorship vis-a-vis Palestine.
The reasoning behind the removal was cited as ‘balance’ – the university could not exhibit a Palestinian show without an accompanying Israeli exhibition.
That there was no Israeli exhibition resulted in the display being removed and the issue wiped from the agenda.
As I related the account various members of the audience nodded slowly or chuckled in anticipation – for they understood the subtext.
Likewise, the condemnation for what Cameron ostensibly addressed as the truth is merely post-quip censorship.
That Cameron did not mention the captive soldier, Gilad Shalit, in his speech does not lessen the gravity of Shalit’s circumstances as Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, denotes:
The people of Gaza are the prisoners of the terrorist organisation Hamas. The situation in Gaza is the direct result of Hamas’s rule and priorities.
We know that the prime minister would also share our grave concerns about our own prisoner in the Gaza Strip, Gilad Shalit, who has been held hostage there for over four years, without receiving a single Red Cross visit. [Source]
Rather, it is rare occasion when the plight of Gaza is mentioned by a British leader – that it should be ‘balanced’ is irrelevent.
It is a situation that must not be detracted from and strong terminology must be used in cases such as this.
Gaza cannot be neutralized nor ignored – indeed, ‘prison camp’ is even an understatement in describing the conditions.
‘Hell’ would be a greater approximation, and yes, both Hamas and Israel are to blame at varying degrees.