Thursday, July 31, 2014
Israel/Gaza: #NotInMyName Or An American Perspective On The Gazan Massacre
Let me start by establishing my angle. I am not an Israeli, I am not Jewish, and I am not Palestinian. Though I am not directly linked to any of the groups involved in this current war, I am a hardworking American citizen whose tax dollars in part funded the Goliath known as the IDF. With that said I will say here at the outset that I intend to shame Israel for its current slaughter of Palestinian civilians while at the same time calling my own government to account for its unilateral support of this evil. I do not intend on justifying Hamas or their actions, but I would ask you to consider one question no matter who and/or where you are: if your families' livelihood, home, drinkable water, power, and access to food were being systematically demolished by a foreign invader would you too not put up a fight, even if they outmatched your military might a thousand to one?
One holocaust is not justification for another.
Let me begin with history. I am not a scholar on mid-twentieth century world politics, but am familiar enough with the general outline of post-WW2 events to understand the main events of the so-called "reconstruction". It was during this time that Israel was established as a state in the middle of a settled land. The victors of the War decided that they would give the Jews this land because it was currently under British occupation anyway. In this way they could guarantee that Israel could defend itself in the event of another major clash of civilizations. What is rarely talked about in the media is that evil already pervaded this region even before Israel was established--it was colonized. Lest we forget the conquering kings did not just lie in Germany. Britain, the US, France and a host of other Anglo descendants. They had been carving out lands, setting up artificial borders (defined by western sensibilities), and propping up marionette warlords for centuries. It was these original foreign invaders who decided that Israel should have a state in that area. The local population was not consulted; they were thrown into exile.
In the time that followed the new marionette warlords--under the auspice of democracy--built up an empire with American aid. Nowadays Israel is tauted as an oasis in the midst of chaos because it is a "democracy" and capitalist, which is code for America's pet project in the Middle East. The problem is that is was western influence that burned the desert down in the first place. The same thing is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan: tribal peoples existed in relative peace, warring only with each other when necessary, until propped up western-friendly governments came in at gunpoint to demand allegiance to a central oligarchy. Would you not fight back if this happened in your city? If Mexico decided that they were going to take Texas (back, for the record) and started building settlements across the border the full weight of the American military would meet them head on and probably take some of their land for the trouble. Why is it any different in Palestine?
When the US Federal government came in to enforce laws that had been broken for decades by a man in Nevada, armed militias intimidated Federal officers into backing down. So, self-determination is ok if you are white, wear a cowboy hat, and saunter around in stirrups waving an American flag, but if you are a poor oppressed people who have been kicked out of your home by an invading giant with overwhelming force then you are an infidel deserving of death? This is propaganda at its finest. And if you are reading this with anger and disdain I would ask: where are you getting your news? From pro-Israel funded media conglomerates or from the wails of children and innocent civilians crying out in the night for relief?
And this is all propped up by American might. Israel and the US have such a cozy relationship that they will both turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by each other. Though it really wouldn't matter if Israel disagreed with the US-though it is worth noting that this offensive in Gaza comes shortly after the US sought to make a deal with Israel's mortal enemy Iran on its nuclear program--if the US disagreed with Israel the political fallout would be devastating. Why? Because the pro-Israel lobby provides so much of the funds for election campaigns. It is atrocious how much influence Israel-friendly dollars have on foreign policy.
No one should support this. Pro-Israel supporters with ties to the region I can understand. I think they are deceived and have been lied to by a corrupt and bloodthirsty government who has linked a national identity to a ethnic heritage, but I can at least understand the deception. Non-Jewish Americans--especially on the conservative side--are even more deceived however. They have zero reason to justify this massacre. They gain nothing by sending their tax dollars to fund machines of death in the Middle East. They have simply been convinced by right wing media and corrupt politicians such as Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, and John McCain that they have some stake in the conflict. No! They don't! All the United States of America risks is its "influence in the region" which we have no business being in anyway. What right do rich white men from Arizona, South Carolina, and Tennessee have to direct the future of a people who have inhabited a region for thousands of years? None. They don't even have a right to dictate the future of the soil they are occupying, yet they still lord their influence like a divine right here at the site of the old Massacres and now--by proxy--the new.
Now I would like to address those who argue that such sentiments are "anti-Semitic". Non-sense. And if anyone confuses racial hatred and bigotry with righteous indignation of a war machine on automatic then those same people are going to end up causing an actual rise in anti-Semitism with their ignorance. People like me who accuse Israeli government members, soldiers in the IDF, US gov't officials who prop up these warlords, and their supporters of being criminals and war profiteers are not accusing any person of Jewish heritage as being such. We are accusing those responsible with their hands in their wallets and their fingers on their triggers. However, as Howard Zinn said you cannot be neutral on a moving train. Anyone who supports these war crimes should not only be ashamed of themselves but should look into the eyes of those babies with their heads blown off (literally) whether they be Israeli, Jewish, American, or any other. Bolivia has and they have designated Israel a terrorist state.
What then shall we do? The massacre must stop. Protests have erupted all over the world and will continue to do so, but they must be escalated, especially here in the US. Recently, in New York City a brave bunch of individuals of Jewish heritage under the name of "IfNotNow" delivered letters to the heads of major Jewish organizations demanding the end of the occupation. The action then resulted in a sit-in after they read the names of the dead. Some of these folks, like most people who take a stand for justice by sitting down, were arrested. However, their action was poignant, self-sacrificial, and to the point. We need more people who can commit themselves to direct action and escalate until our message of dissent resonates through city, corporate, and congressional halls.
Secondly, we must continue to share the story. Mass media has been covering the story in an incredibly propogandic and one-sided manner. They may have even deceived some of you reading this story. Just yesterday I saw a story out of Israel about an owl who died as a result of Hamas rocket fire while ignoring the more than a thousand deaths of Palestinians most of whom were innocent civilians. Thankfully, we have alternative on-the-ground sources from outlets such as Facebook, twitter, and other social media platforms; we have petitions that can be filed through WhiteHouse.Gov that we can sign and share (one of which is available here); we can blitz the phone lines of our (supposed) representatives and demand that the federal government cease its unilateral support of this massacre (phone lines available here and here); we can occupy offices of Congresspeople (locations available in last two links); and we can chain ourselves to the government fences to symbolize the constrains of living in a walled up warzone. There is no limit to how we can creatively engage those here at home who make the decisions to send our hard earned tax dollars to fund massacre; we just need to commit ourselves to action and hop to it. This slaughter is being done in your name. No more.
If you are in Philadelphia there is a rally on Friday August 1st @ 4pm at Love Park and there is also a bus leaving Saturday August 2nd to head to DC for a mass protest in support of Gaza. Be silent no more; its time to get involved.