If the Gaza Blockade is Bad, Does That Make Hamas Good?

Of what use are unrealized human rights to Gazan Palestinians – and what happens when an aspirational right confronts the hard reality of Hamas?


We, expressing outrage and support for the people of Gaza from a distance, can refer to Israel’s illegal blockade, settler colonialism, apartheid or the right to armed resistance. These are strategies as well as narratives, each leading to actions.  Change will require a range of external pressures – the more the better.

I choose the language of human rights, after many years of professional skepticism about its practical benefit.  Working in communities affected by war, I believed that people hadrights, but I didn’t see theoretical rights doing them much good.  I still question the rights industry, which so easily becomes one more exercise of Northern expertise.  Yet I believe that it is imperative to insist upon, and return every argument to, the human rights of Gazan Palestinians.

To use this language is to say that every human is born with equal and inalienable rights, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (both 1966).  These agreements are the foundations of international human rights law, which places the value of human lives at the center of the frame.

Very nice – but what good is a list of rights, while the IDF is killing protestors?

In Afghanistan…

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