John Holmes on allowing aid and development in Gaza

Writing in Lebanon’s Daily Star, John Holmes argues for the decoupling of the desperate need for aid in Gaza and the political challenges facing Hamas, Israel and the West:

An extract:

“A good starting point would be to reopen the border crossings to all essential humanitarian and reconstruction goods. This should happen not because Hamas wants it or might benefit from it or because certain political benchmarks have been reached, but simply because Gazans desperately need it. The relief workers currently applying for authorizations to work in Gaza must also be recognized and respected by Hamas and Israel as independent and autonomous actors. Humanitarian aid is neutral and impartial, and Gaza’s donors should reinforce that message at every opportunity.”

Does the media have a role to play in the continuing diplomatic isolation of Hamas and the lack of Western pressure on Israel to open the borders in Gaza to allow aid in? Rarely in the West are we subject to stories or broadcasts that focus exclusively on the plight of Gazans, instead most reports will also delve into the familiar political stalemate and past conflicts in the region.

There are plenty of journalists who would also consider themselves to be advocates or even activist’s for a particular cause, such as those of the Palestinians. But this must be coupled against their need to give a wider picture of the situation, even if it can distract away from the plight of individuals, or whole societies. For all the media, the balance between assisting and highlighting those in trouble, and presenting a neutral and complete story is a constant, ongoing problem. In the Middle East, with it’s occasional tendencies to rumour and propaganda, this is undeniably important.

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