Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What Goldstone--And The World--Can Learn From An 8 Year Old Gazan Girl Named Marya

Back in December, The New York Times had a piece by Ethan Bronner entitled A Mideast Bond, Stitched of Pain and Healing:
He can be impulsive. She has a touch of bossiness. Next-door neighbors for nearly a year, they talk, watch television and explore the world together, wandering into each other’s homes without a second thought. She likes his mother’s eggplant dish. He likes her father’s rice and lamb.

Marya, a Palestinian, and Orel, an Israeli, are 8-year-old neighbors at Jerusalem's Alyn Hospital.

Friendship often starts with proximity, but Orel and Marya, both 8, have been thrust together in a way few elsewhere have. Their playground is a hospital corridor. He is an Israeli Jew severely wounded by a Hamas rocket. She is a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza paralyzed by an Israeli missile. Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies.

When Orel arrived here a year ago, he could not hear, see, talk or walk. Now he does them all haltingly. Half his brain is gone. Doctors were deeply pessimistic about his survival. Today they are amazed at his progress although unclear how much more can be made.

Marya’s spinal cord was broken at the neck and she can move only her head. Smart, sunny and strong-willed, she moves her wheelchair by pushing a button with her chin. Nothing escapes her gaze. She knows that Orel is starting to prefer boys as playmates and she makes room. But their bond remains strong.

Evelyn Gordon writes that though the article tries to point out a symmetry between the 2 children and their situations, there is a difference. Consider the case of Marya:

She was wounded three years ago, when a missile targeting a Hamas terrorist hit her family’s car instead. Her mother, grandmother, and older brother were killed; she was paralyzed from the neck down.

The Israeli government brought her to Israel for medical care that she couldn’t receive in Gaza. It also brought her father, Hamdi Aman, to be with her, and her younger brother, Momen, so he wouldn’t be separated from his surviving parent.

When Marya’s condition stabilized, the government proposed returning her to Gaza, or else the West Bank. Aman objected, fearing his daughter’s care would suffer. The Israeli media and “a bevy of volunteers” mobilized “to fight on his behalf,” and the government “backed off.”

But actually, the story reveals, it did a bit more than just “back off.” Not only is the Israeli government still funding Marya’s care at Alyn, but it’s also paying for her to attend a bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school nearby and paying her father a stipend equivalent to the minimum wage. In short, it’s doing what it can to make amends for Marya’s unintended injury.
And that is exactly the point, and exactly the difference between Israel and Hamas and why using the claim of being 'balanced' when talking about Israel and Hamas is so ludicrous, degrading and offensive:
That’s precisely the kind of behavior one wouldn’t expect from a country that deliberately targets civilians — because if civilians are intentional targets, why should Israel feel any need to make amends by bringing the Amans to Israel, financing Marya’s medical care, and schooling and supporting her family?

And it’s also where the symmetry breaks down. There’s no mention of any comparable Hamas gesture toward Orel, not even a pro forma verbal apology. That’s because Hamas does deliberately target civilians. So it feels no remorse and no need to make amends.

Marya was wounded before the Gaza war, but other Gazans injured in that conflict were similarly treated in Israeli hospitals. Israel also set up a field hospital on the Israel-Gaza border to treat additional Gazan war victims, though due to Hamas’s intimidation, few came. Thus Israel spent its own money and risked its own doctors’ lives, in an effort to heal the very civilians it allegedly deliberately targeted.

If you’re trying to kill enemy civilians, that’s a bizarre way of achieving your goal. Perhaps Goldstone could learn something about Israel by talking to Marya. [emphasis added]
Let's face it--we all could.

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