Human rights are universal. Or so we were taught. But the simplistic notion has been overturned, mutilated and manipulated to the point that the only universal aspect about human rights is the bureaucratic process that dictates the trajectories of the oppressed.
Gaza and human rights are such an example. As Israel once again denied a formal request by the European Parliament delegation to visit Gaza in order to monitor the humanitarian situation, the EU assumed an affronted stance that revealed more about its exploitative intent than its purported concern for the people trapped in the enclave. In a press release, the delegation described Israel’s decision as systematic, arbitrary and unacceptable. “For years Israeli authorities have prevented us from meeting with Palestinians in Gaza and witness the situation for ourselves, despite the need to assess the humanitarian and development aid provided by the European Union and European governments that keeps Gaza afloat.”
Yet the EU only portrays Israel as oppressive when Gaza and financial humanitarian aid are part of the same equation. The question we should be asking is why this latest spectacle from the EU and Israel is generating the wrong publicity – depriving entry to EU diplomats, while an undignified action, is not on a par with the suffering of Palestinian people in Gaza. Time and again, the EU and Israel engage in promoting an illusion of conflict between Israel’s human rights violations and the EU’s purported peace building agenda. The result is two-fold – partisan outrage depending upon the spectators’ affinity, while Palestinians once again slide to the bottom rung in terms of political visibility.
The most revealing point in the press release is not the regurgitated jargon about Palestinian needs but a sentence that ties EU aims to the international impositions on Palestinians. “The European Parliament has called for the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip, and we urge all Palestinian forces to resume efforts towards reconciliation.”
Why would the EU call for Mahmoud Abbas’ authoritarian rule in Gaza, given his role, in addition to the illegal blockade imposed by Israel, in subjugating Palestinians there to additional hardships? Only last week, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini admitted the bloc’s favouring of a two-state “solution” in Israel’s interests. The PA has not veered from pursuing such compromise at the expense of Palestinians. All diplomatic roads lead to Israel, regardless of the intermittent laments about delegations not being able to exercise their freedom of movement – a purportedly universal right – to enter Gaza, make pretence of commiseration for Palestinians, while business continues as usual with the colonial entity.
Israel, the EU and the Palestinian Authority have much in common and their victims are always the same population.
For diplomatic purposes, being denied entry to Gaza provides an opportunity for a spurious limelight. The next time such a visit is planned, under the guise of concern for Gaza’s population, why not disclose in advance the real purpose of such endeavours? It is only in terms of a true sense of justice that the masses expect accountability as regards the experimental politics that have ravaged the lives of Palestinians in Gaza. In its absence, it is a collective duty to reverse the isolation that has rendered human rights a privilege that no amount of begging will restore where it is due.