Monday, May 24, 2010

Wheels within wheels in Gaza

Anyone imagining that the Middle East conflict can be viewed as a simple binary--Israel versus Islamism--will be discomfited by this recent story about an attack on a children's camp in Gaza.

UNRWA, whose Canadian funding was cut off by the Harper government earlier this year to a burst of applause from the usual suspects, runs a summer camp for kids in the Gaza strip. It has come under fire--metaphorically at this point--from Muslim extremists, who trashed the camp yesterday before the children were due to arrive. The separation of the camp into boys' and girls' sections was considered insufficient: the vandals were incensed that schoolgirls would be taught "fitness, dancing and immorality."

Hamas, presently running the government of Gaza, is furious. On Canada's list of terrorist organizations, it's been on the receiving end of terrorism itself for some time, targeted in a series of attacks by Salafist extremists. It has vowed to "track down the perpetrators."

(Hamas has no problem, it seems, with female fitness, but apparently draws the line at hip-hop, sending police to break up a concert last month.)

One can imagine the hypothetical conversations--or try to. Quite different, I think, from the ones we have from our comfortable vantage-point, where distant tangles resolve into black and white.

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