“Gaza’s Culture of Self-Destruction” By Yael Kaynan

The situation in Gaza is, indeed, “grim and miserable,” as the UN’s Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, noted the other day. Certainly, the Palestinians living in Gaza are struggling under severe economic conditions. There is no doubt that sanctions levied against Gaza inflict hardship and deprivation on the citizens of Gaza. These sanctions include closed borders with both Israel and Egypt, reductions in electrical power and fuel deliveries, and deliveries of food supplies that keep them short of a humanitarian crisis but, by no means, allow for comfortable existence. Yet, it is not the current deplorable economic conditions, the border blockade, nor the effects of the other sanctions that make the situation in Gaza so grim and miserable. These, after all, are recent and temporary measures, creating a temporary state of hardship. No, what makes the situation in Gaza so grim is far more insidious.

It is something that will remain to plague the citizens of Gaza long after memories have faded of the months spent eating a bland diet of staples, of the inability to purchase flat-screen televisions or to spend vacations in the Sinai. It is the very culture that the Palestinians in Gaza have spent so many years carefully crafting that makes their present — and their long-term future — both grim and miserable.

The people in Gaza need to stop and take a good look at the culture and society that they are creating and begin to think hard about how they might begin to undo the damage to their social fabric that is, with every day that passes, increasing. They should begin their social re-engineering not for the sake of their Israeli enemies across the border, nor to increase their standing on the world stage, but rather for their own sakes because inculcating blind hatred, with a murderous twist, against another group has some unintended side effects for the culture that does the inculcating.

When children are raised on a steady diet of hatred, disrespect for human life, and violence, those children grow up to be violent and with no regard for the life, or well-being, of others. And not just for “those” others but for all others, including those within their own society. Parents in Gaza need to ask themselves, “What kind of person will my child grow up to be if I have taught him to celebrate the murder of a 73 year old woman by passing out candy and flowers?” as the children of Gaza did in large numbers recently when two suicide bombers managed to kill an old woman and put her even more elderly husband into intensive care.

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