Israel-Gaza conflict, a response to the Gaza open letter in the Lancet

An open letter for the people in Gaza, The Lancet, July 23, 2014.

Une lettre ouverte pour le peuple de Gaza (traduction CG pour l’AURDIP)

The President of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Ruchama Marton, on the root cause of the Gaza conflict.

I would like to extend my appreciation to The Lancet for giving a place and a voice to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

There are a lot of angry voices in Israel and worldwide against Paola Manduca and colleagues’ Letter [1] and the Editors of The Lancet, and I assume there will be more to come. People are blaming the open letter and the doctors who signed it of being one-sided, blind, and against Israel. Identity as based on an ethical commitment can maintain its openness to the others unlike identity based on nationality and separation.

The militarisation of the Israeli mind and the military action are distancing Israeli society from its social issues and contribute to the loss of society’s ability to confront these issues. The right of Israel to protect itself from destruction does not give it the right to oppress the Palestinian people. Oppressed people are bound to resist severe violation of their human rights.

I want to point to a fundamental issue omitted in Manduca and colleagues’ Letter [1] : the root cause of the ongoing tragedy is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and people, and the suffocating siege imposed on Gaza.

There are Israeli and Jewish groups on the side of justice who call for removal of the Gaza siege and the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land to achieve peace and security for all. These groups include Physicians for Human Rights and B’tselem in Israel, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Jewish Voice for Peace abroad. Those and some other groups are thinking in a radical way, meaning that we see the root of the violent situation, and struggle to change it. I do not accept the term extremist that I hear and read too often because there is a huge difference between being radical and being extremist.

I am Founder and President of Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

I declare no competing interests.

Ruchama Marton

Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel

[1] Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S. An open letter for the people in Gaza. Lancet 2014; 384: 397–98.