Public First Program


Shane Elson


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Jan 2009 # 1

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Back to Editorials 2009

Gaza, Gas and War

Have you ever heard of British Gas? Or perhaps the BG Group? Or what about the Consolidated Contractors Company? OK, then what about Tony Blair, Mahmoud Abbas, Ehud Olmert? I guess these last three are recognisable. But what do all these names share in common? Two things Gaza and gas.

In 2000 a $4 billion US dollar gas field was discovered just off shore from the Gaza strip. The field is under waters that, by international recognition, makes it the property of the Palestinians. Kind of like the oil and gas that lies in the waters recognised as belonging to East Timor. Just like the East Timor gas and oil there are powers that want to deprive the Palestinians of any claim to or control over their natural resources.

Just as Israel controls the fresh water and other resources that flow into Gaza, they want to ensure that the 'right' Palestinians control access to the vast gas field and the benefits that will flow from it. As they say, wars have been fought for less. And that is exactly what the carnage in Gaza has become. A war over natural resources and who controls them.

Our moribund media have been reporting for the last three weeks that it was the Palestinians who 'started' this latest round of ethnic cleansing. However, even a cursory Google search will reveal the lie that these so called 'reports' are. On November 4th 2008 the IDF crossed into Gaza and killed four Palestinians and therefore broke the cease fire that had been negotiated in June.

The fact that this has not been discussed and that our mainstream media has been prepared to lie about the facts that led to the resumption of the armed Palestinian resistance demonstrates, beyond doubt, that at the highest levels of business, the networks to keep us ill informed are working like a well oiled machine. Now, back to the names listed above.

Back when Tony Blair was Prime Minister of England, he intervened in negotiations between British Gas (now the BG Group) and the Egyptian government and attempted to ensure that Israel got first dibs on the gas. His attempt to broker a deal between the Abbas' Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government helps explain the reasons why the PA is touted as 'moderate'. However, when one examines the deal we find that Abbas is set to reap a personal fortune from a deal with Israel. His PA is a ten percent owner of the 'rights' to the field along with the Consolidated Construction Company and the BG group.

Just three weeks before Israel unleashed its weapons of mass destruction, the Israeli cabinet signed off on a deal with the PA to buy the gas from them. As the so called “Middle East Peace Envoy” Tony Blair played a key role as he shuttled back and forward between Britain, Egypt and Israel. And, in the middle of all this, he obtained a “peace” award from that other war monger, George W. Bush. Ironic isn't it?

As I write this I find the whole thing is like the script from some Hollywood movie. Yet, nowhere in this script do I see a hero. I fail to find a single 'reputable' voice in the mainstream media that as been prepared to speak out. Now, that is a bit harsh because there are many that have spoken out but like the Palestinians who live under occupation and deprivation, their voices are excluded or occluded from the discourse that normalises the Israeli aggression and killing.

The script that has been written and is repeated continually in the mainstream media, is that Palestinians are bad, Israelis are good. Neither definition is true. There are good and bad on both sides. One just has to look at the Israeli peace movements and armed forces resisters. I suggest that if you were forced to live under the inhumane conditions that those in Gaza and the West Bank are forced to live under, that it wouldn't be too long before you decided that passive acceptance was not getting you anywhere.

The fact that only three Israeli citizens have been killed in the latest carnage while nearly one and half thousand Palestinians have been killed (and almost a quarter of them children) demonstrates once more the valuelessness of human life when it stands between outrageous fortunes and those who seek gain them.

The apparent 'unilateral cease fire' that Israel has announced and the fact that the almost impotent rockets continue to be fired from Gaza shows that there is more to this than the 'we're defending Israeli lives' line being run by their government. Nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to securing wealth, no lives are important except those who hope to gain the most from the suffering of others.

Just like in East Timor, the war in Gaza is not about human safety or security. Nor are the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. Each of these conflicts comes back to something very basic. Access to resources and the means to control and benefit from them.

The people of Gaza know that Abbas will sacrifice them for his own ends and they don't trust him at all. Perhaps if we were to step into their shoes for a moment we might realise how despondent they feel after being sold out by successive politicians who supposedly represent their interests. Arafat failed them (although he did try) but Abbas has been too warmly embraced by the West to be seen as a credible Palestinian leader. Perhaps a better term for 'peace negotiations' would be “piece negotiations”. The only bit that needs deciding is who gets what pieces.

Meanwhile names that we know and many that we don't will continue to allow the killing to go on and for many more thousands to suffer. Perhaps what we in the West should be doing is taking back our media and for once, highlighting the real context in which the genocide in Gaza is being perpetrated.

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