It seems that almost every time I read a story about the Gaza Strip, the word “besieged” comes up. And it’s starting to bug me.
Maybe it’s my passing interest in medieval warfare, or occasional flirtation with fantasy novels (much like science fiction, the problem is finding the worthwhile stuff — the vast majority is junk), or my general guy-based fascination with warfare, but to me, “besieged” has a very specific meaning.
The word brings to mind a city surrounded by enemies, seeking to breach the walls, then loot and pillage from the conquered occupants.
But let’s go right to the heart of the matter, and see what the dictionary says:
1. To surround with hostile forces.
2. To crowd around; hem in.
3. To harass or importune, as with requests: Reporters besieged the winner for interviews.
4. To cause to feel distressed or worried: She was besieged by problems.
We’ll dump the last two; they’re obviously hyperbole, a word being watered down to overdramatize events. Let’s see how it fits in this usage:
Israeli troops killed two Palestinians militants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a day after rejecting an unofficial truce offer from the besieged Hamas rulers of the coastal territory.
Is Hamas surrounded by enemies? Well, they declare Israel their enemies, and Israel makes up a good chunk of their border. But they also have a border with Egypt, who’s turned a blind eye (or actively helped) to Hamas bringing in all sorts of weapons and other war materiel.
Does that enemy seek to conquer Gaza? Hardly. Israel HAD it, and gave it back. They’ve made it abundantly clear they don’t want to own or control the Gaza Strip.
Is the Gaza Strip under constant attack? Again, no. The only “attacks” have been retaliatory or preventive strikes.
So I really don’t think that “besieged” fits Hamas and the Gaza Strip.
Actually, if truth be told (and that’s a very dangerous thing), the term far better fits Israel.
Is Israel surrounded by enemies? Every single one of its neighbors has attacked it in the past. Gaza and the West Bank are still attacking, they recently fought a war in southern Lebanon, and Syria is still technically at war with Israel — and wants its seized territory on the Golan Heights back.
Do Israel’s enemies want to conquer and occupy Israel? Absolutely. Every single war and other aggressive act against Israel is with the goal of “driving the Zionists into the sea” and “restoring Palestine” (which would be quite a trick — there NEVER was a nation called “Palestine” as they wish to restore it).
Is Israel under constant attack? Indisputably. Every day more rockets fall on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, aimed at nothing in particular but fired in the hopes of killing civilians and causing chaos.
There is a long history among the Palestinians (and Muslims in general) to take away Israel’s history and claim it as their own. They pretty much fabricated Islamic history in Jerusalem, claimed Judaism’s holiest site as their own, and are busily destroying all archaeological evidence of a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount while fabricating their own. They refer to the experience of the Palestinians after the establishment of Israel as a “Holocaust,” comparing the displacement (often voluntary) of 850,000 Palestinians to the wholesale extermination of over six million Jews in Europe. And they seldom mention the OTHER 850,000 refugees from the same period — the Jews kicked out of Muslim and Arab nations. Those ones chose to not spend the next 60 years as perpetual victims, but instead started afresh and made something of themselves. As I’ve said before, they were handed lemons and turned them into a multi-national lemonade conglomerate.
One of New Hampshire’s most famous sons, Daniel Webster, famously said “there is nothing more powerful than truth.” That seems to have gone out of fashion, these days it seems there is nothing more powerful than victimhood. If you can claim to be a victim of someone or something, it seems, you have absolute moral authority to do whatever you wish in the name of your victimization.
It’s a lesson that we need to unlearn, and unlearn soon.