After the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed by muslim extremists in Gaza, his book about the Cast Lead 2009 Gaza war was immediately sold out. Now the new edition of the book is published we can finally read what Vittorio really meant, when he finished his blogs with the statement : "Stay Human".
Its hard to comment the book "Stay Human", as it hardly describes anything in Gaza, nor is it a personal witness report from inside. His blogs are more a collection of anti-Israel statements with references to the war events.When we expect to learn more about the life, ideals or actions of Vittorio Arrigoni, the book is disappointing. The few details about the life of Vittorio Arrigoni can be summarized in a few sentences. Vittorio lives in an appartment near the beach of Gaza. He visits his ISM colleagues in Gaza and they tell him what happens. He spends a lot of time in internet cafés and press offices, where he uses his laptop to write war reports or to search the internet for news about the war. Sometimes he is off for a few days and when he comes back he wonders that the building is still there. He finds a note from the Israeli airforce on his doorstep which warns the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Were he has been and what he has done in the mean time stays unclear. Inge Neefs, the Belgian ISM-activist even writes that Vittorio sometimes turns off his mobile phone for days.
He and his ISM fellows supervize the Gaza ambulances who bring war victims to the hospitals, because they state that Israel tries to kill the ambulance brothers. We would expects to read the horrible details of the wounded and dead as transported by the ambulances to the hospitals. Its a pity that Vittorio is only able to write about stories that other people tell him. We can't check them and its not him who saw it.
In the mean time Vittorio Arrigoni tells us stories about details of the Cast Lead war that we already have read on the Electronic Intifada and in blogs of Anja Meulenbelt. Israel has used phosfor bombs, which is forbidden. I hoped to read about the wounds and destruction caused by the phosfor bombs, so maybe even a notorious zionist like me could be convinced about the wrongness of this deeds. Nothing of this kind of information is found in the book at all. Children even are playing with the rests of the phosfor granates and try to make new fires. This is what Vittorio describes, not me. Arrigoni reveals the codes and numbers of the used phosfor grenates (M825 155mm smoke projectiles) which learns us that these are smoke grenates as used by military to hide the attacking forces. The grenates are not meant to damage humans or buildings.
Vittorio Arrigoni has a strange fixation on children, especially child victims. All pictures in the book show us dead children bodies. On almost every page of the book, Vittorio Arrigoni tells us that Israel kills Palestinian children. Unfortunately Vittorio is not able to talk with the children. He is depending on translation given by other members of the ISM. This leads to very strange situations when a young child tells the ISM activists that "Hamas has caused this war" and a female ISM activist starts to explain the Palestinian history to the child , trying to convince it that Israel is to blame for everything. This one sentence reveals the whole demagogic content of the book where Vittorio repeatedly states that he is not in favour of Hamas, Fatah of PFLP.
Unintentionally Arrigoni gives us some details which are in shart contrast to the other sentences and statements in the book. At the one hand the ISM continu to state that Gaza does not have hospitals, nor medical suppplies, due to the "criminal siege". At the other hand Arrigoni states that 57 medical centres, 51 schools and 59 UN schools are hit by bombs. Also Arrigoni describes how the Israeli airforce calls doctors in the hospital before attacking it to give the possibility to disappear before the bombing. This is in contradiction to the opinion that Israel wanted to "massacre Palestinians".
We don't expect an objective and balanced story when an ISM peace activist writes a book about the Gaza War. Still it would be interesting to hear what really happens in Gaza during the war. In stead the book is repeating the verbal attacks against Israel, that we can read all over the internet. It does not give much eye witness information about the daily life in Gaza during the ware which we would not be able to perceive from other sources. In that sense the book 'Gaza, Stay Human' is disappointing.
Still I regard Vittorio Arrigoni as a victim of the jihad. Radical muslims, even more extreme then Hamas have killed Vittorio Arrigoni and that is a shame. Probably Vittorio with his western and canty lifestyle has done or said something that provoced the salafist kidnappers. He came to Gaza to help and did not realize the dangers, which were fatal for him.