Saturday, July 01, 2006

While Others Fall Silently to the Ground

(a note -- all facts in this article are as accurate as possible as of three days ago)
In 1867, as more white settlers moved West, American artist George Catlin frantically tried to record the lives of the remaining Native people. In his book Last Ramblings, Catlin wrote that when any white settler was killed, the press immediately cried "Indian murders! Indian murders of white people!" But when Native women and children died, their cries were "muffled and silenced. Glorious institution, the "Press," but how much more glorious if it were not one-sided!"

Over the month that I have lived in the West Bank, the press has vigorously covered the kidnapping and killing of one Israeli settler, and capture of one soldier and two additional Israeli deaths. Meanwhile, 27 unarmed Palestinians, including 7 children, have been killed quietly nearly without mention in the international press.

Yesterday, Israeli tanks invaded the Gaza Strip to secure the release of one captured Israeli solider. The Israeli military bombed Gaza's power plant, plunging the population into darkness and cutting off water. As I write, tanks continue the shelling. No estimates of casualties have been released and I wonder if we will ever really know how many have died in this invasion.

As soon as Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, Condalezza Rice was on camera to condemn the kidnapping as the violent act it was. But Secretary Rice had nothing to say about the 27 Palestinians recently killed. In fact, on June 9th when an Israeli naval boat fired a missile on families picnicking on the Gaza beach killing 8 people, including five children and their parents, our government immediatelyexcused the attack as necessary for Israel's security.

Now, as Israeli tanks shell Gaza, I wonder what Secretary Rice will say next. How many Palestinian deaths will be justified to free a single soldier, whose life is now in more danger because the clearly punitive nature of this so-called rescue operation?

Every time human life is taken in this conflict, our government should condemn the violence without first asking the nationality of the dead. But it is clear that when some people die we will cry "murder, murder" while we will let others fall silently to the ground. By supporting Israel's actions unconditionally, we do little to prove ourfriendship. Instead, we offer our support to the violation of Palestinian human rights and to a military occupation which breeds the terrorism Israelis fear. Our attitude is "Israel, right or wrong." I shudder to think what might happen if other countries so blindly supported America in similar unethical and counterproductive actions.

Currently, every year we give Israel $3 billion dollarsworth of unconditional support. To bring peace, American aid should come with conditions which apply equally to both Israel and Palestine. If Hamas must renounce violence and recognize Israel, then Israel must also renounce violence, end its occupation, and allow a Palestinian state to be established. If the United States begins to hold all parties to international law, perhaps the basis for a peaceful and just resolution to this conflict can be established.

Until then, those who live in this nightmare will watch as the tanks roll on.

1 comment:

Halla said...

Unbelievable, Isn't it? Its nice to have this analysis confirmed from someone other than an arab!!! Thank you Joy!! There has never been unbiased mediation in this conflict by the USA and thats why resentment has grown for the US by arabs. It's sad that our government does not see that they are hurting the region more than helping it.
Stay safe!
I have another blog I have been reading from a doctor in Gaza that is eye opening on what is going on right now, if you are interested.