Project for Pitiless Centuries


...' Comparing the blockade of Gaza, by Israel, with that of Iraq, similarities are chillingly stark. Iraq, seventy percent reliant on imports from fertilizer to pharmaceuticals, building materials, to medical maintenance, was bombed back "to a pre-industrial age" in 1991. All wherewithal, for not alone rebuilding was denied, but foods, soft drinks, paper, books, newspapers, toiletries, pens, pencils, blackboards, toys, musical instruments, sheet music, trade and professional literature (including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet) ping pong balls. Items hardly "dual use" to morph in to weapons of mass destruction - or even play yard destruction. The schools for blind and deaf children closed - specially adapted items for their needs, as braille books, hearing aids and the batteries for them, also vetoed. Requests for ambulances, bombed in 1991, or collapsed for want of spare parts, were also refused. When, after a decade, a few were allowed in, the usual built-in means of communication were denied - incase they were diverted for "military use." The weakest and most helpless, were indeed targeted, at the maximum cost. Mr Hufbauer's words were followed to - and beyond - the letter. In Gaza, largely destroyed in December-January 2008/9 by Israeli bombardment, goods blocked by Israel include all rebuilding materials (cement, iron, wood, tar, plaster) tea, coffee, sage, cardamom, cumin, coriander, ginger, jam, halva, vinegar, nutmeg, sweets, chocolate, fruit preserves, seeds, sage, cardamom, cumin, coriander, ginger, jam, halva, vinegar, nutmeg, chocolate, fruit preserves, seeds and nuts, biscuits and sweets, potato chips, gas for soft drinks, dried fruit, fresh meat, plaster, tar, wood for construction, cement, iron, glucose, industrial salt, plastic/glass/metal containers, industrial margarine, tarpaulin sheets for huts, fabric for clothing, light bulbs, shoes, sheets, toys, crayons, mattresses, blankets, shampoo, conditioner. All infact, items formerly vetoed for Iraq. As Iraq, musical instruments and strings for them are also banned. Are Brahms and Beethoven, the haunting, or joyous sound of the piano, violin, flute, lute and its Middle East musical relative, the oud, now a terrorist act? Hearing aids and batteries for the children at the school for the deaf are denied. As Iraq, water remains a biological weapon through lack of purifying chemicals and parts to repair. Schools, hospitals, sewage plants, mosques and homes continue to lie in ruins for want of construction materials... '

Project for Pitiless Centuries

by Felicity Arbuthnot - 6/17/2010

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger's award-winning documentary, "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq". She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.