Tuesday, September 18, 2007
George Bisharat, Baltimore Sun, Sep 18, 2007
"Two hundred thousand Palestinian children began school in the Gaza Strip this month without a full complement of textbooks. Why? Because Israel, which maintains a stranglehold over this small strip of land along the Mediterranean even after withdrawing its settlers from there in 2005, considers paper, ink and binding materials not to be "fundamental humanitarian needs."
Israel, attempting to throttle the democratically elected Hamas government, generally permits only food, medicine and fuel to enter Gaza, and allows virtually no Palestinian exports to leave. Lately, it held up delivery of materials needed for printing textbooks. As a result, Gaza students began the year facing a 30 percent shortage of texts......
Boycotts are always somewhat blunt tools, and they inevitably impose costs on some who are undeserving of them. That was true of the boycott of apartheid South Africa, which applied to all academics -- as well as athletes, businesspeople, artists and others. At the time, the international community weighed the cost to academic freedom against the advancement of justice and equal rights for black South Africans, and the choice was clear.
Two hundred thousand Palestinian schoolchildren are wondering how the world will respond faced with a similar choice today."