Cognitive Dissonance

Kirby Urner
5 min readMar 13, 2024

A popular opening in debates about the fate of Gaza and its people is that it’s an open air prison. Beyond being a prison, however, we have to accept that most of those there have never been permitted to move anywhere else, but not because of any “crime” beyond being born in Gaza (not a crime).

A kind of malign neglect and condescending authoritarianism forces them to stay in place. The United Nations is complicit.

This is how it is in many nations, not just for those in Palestine: you’re born in Bangladesh, so you must stay in Bangladesh; you’re born in Sri Lanka so you must stay in Sri Lanka… and so on. In that sense, Gaza is hardly the largest open air prison. Pick any nation that keeps its people locked inside its borders.

But then who is keeping the Gazans locked up, or the Bangladeshis for that matter? People in other parts of the world. Various people with titles have decided they’re in charge of human traffic patterns. If you hope to move, you’ll need to pay them. They’re in control of the documentation.

Gazans have to stay in Gaza because the world says so, and not just because of Israelis. Actually, many Israelis say they’d like the Gazans to leave Gaza. Allow Gaza to be gentrified and push the poor people out, many of the real estate minded are thinking. This happens around the world. Slums get cleared for New York freeways.

The do-gooder world then smugly steps in, presuming it’s speaking for all Gazans, in standing up to the Israelis and saying “forced…