Robert Fisk on Gaza and Egypt

Israel's bombing of Gaza has been, to be honest, at the edge of my news horizon, but two Robert Fisk pieces are worth quoting from at length. If writing about place, history and memory has become a kind of practice for me, a routine like keeping a journal or doing nightly push-ups, then Fisk's columns are a reminder that writing about history and place is never simply an academic exercise:
How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.

That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.
And then there is the ongoing debate between meaning and representation:
There has developed in Egypt a kind of religious facade in which the meaning of Islam has become effaced by its physical representation. Egyptian civil "servants" and government officials are often scrupulous in their religious observances – yet they tolerate and connive in rigged elections, violations of the law and prison torture. A young American doctor described to me recently how in a Cairo hospital busy doctors merely blocked doors with plastic chairs to prevent access to patients. In November, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm reported how doctors abandoned their patients to attend prayers during Ramadan.
In other news, Los Angeles is sunny today; a haze on the horizon, and the sky there has the shimmer of fresh milk. Or something like that.


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