Palestinians Deserve Help from the World

It was last week that my blood began to boil at what is going on in Gaza.

The news report said that Israelis had dropped leaflets into Gaza, warning them that they were going to attack and telling them that they should leave their homes.

Leave their homes? Where are they supposed to go?

I went to a place of recollection on how, in this country, minorities, most often blacks, have been displaced over the years because some project is going to be developed in their neighborhood. The message has been, “move.” The question has always been, “move to where?”

According to reports, the mortality rate of Palestinians is rising at a horribly rapid rate on a daily basis. Israel says the deaths are regrettable but that it is necessary because Hamas will not stop firing missiles into Israel…and that Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel further says that while Israel values human life, Hamas doesn’t, as evidenced by its non-regard for Palestinians. If they cared about their people, Israel says, they would stop firing missiles into Israel.

Both Palestinians and Jews say that Hamas is NOT good for Palestinian, but that being said, there is still no justification for this mass killing of innocent Palestinians.  A report issued by the United Nations in 2012 said that the population in Palestine is “increasingly desperate.” Housing is horrid; the unemployment rate is about 40 percent; that rate amongst young people rises to 60 percent; there is a rising suicide rate. The population is booming, but the infrastructure is crumbling …and though Israel is in control of much of what happens in Palestine, Israel reportedly offers little help. Israel stops most exports from Palestine to the Israel and the West Bank …and by extension, to the world, and Israel controls what can be imported.

From what is described, the people in Palestine live much like blacks in South Africa live, in shantytowns, with little regard for their lives or livelihood. As is the case with most cases of oppression, the Palestinians have been dehumanized by the Empire. When Secretary of State John Kerry said that what is going on in Gaza could turn Israel into an apartheid state,, he was quickly criticized and pulled back his comment …but it seems true. http://http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/27/exclusive-kerry-warns-israel-could-become-an-apartheid-state.html The only way an oppressor can carry out cruel, unfair and unjust policies is to see people not as people but as objects. Surely that is what seems to be the case in Gaza. http://http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Gaza-carnage–the-living-cartoon-of-the-war-in-the-30239275.html

If anyone dares say that what Israel is doing, he/she/it is labeled anti-Semitic. It’s the same old game oppressors have used for decades. Back in the Civil Rights struggle days, if a white person helped a black, spoke up and spoke out about racism and white supremacy, or challenged laws that were clearly unjust for black people, he or she was called a “nigger lover,” and was threatened by the Empire (white power structure) with being fired or worse. Empires are bullies by nature and rule by and with fear.

The world, it seems, has been afraid to speak up and out about what Israel is doing to innocent Palestinians. I daresay that few people know what is going on in Gaza, and what life is like for Palestinians. Nobody wants to be labeled anti-Semitic…and to speak up about what is going on is not anti-Semitic. That’s what we don’t understand. To speak up is NOT to speak against Jews but to speak up for justice for “the least of these.”

I am still stuck on the pictures of the Palestinian families leaving their homes…going to…where? I see, in my mind’s eye, people of New Orleans being forced out of their homes by Hurricane Katrina…going ..where?

What is equally as troubling about all of this is that we the public don’t really know what’s going on. News reporting is not objective, especially on controversial issues. The object of the Empire, whatever that Empire is (United States, Israel, Japan…) is to maintain power.  The media, unfortunately, too often seems to want to please the Empire and not report the truth. To do so means that journalists risk losing their jobs…and we all have to eat. It’s the same fear that runs rampant amongst the populace. Those in power will do whatever they need to do to maintain power. Truth, then, suffers. It is ignored and not reported, and “the least of these” suffer.

Racism and injustice don’t go away by ignoring them.  We have to face them…so we can fix them. Just as we need to face racism and white supremacy in America and what those issues are still doing to our country, we need to find out and face what is going on in Israel. Ella Baker, an icon in the Civil Rights movement, said it best: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

Clearly, there is no freedom or dignity for the Palestinian people, which means that we “who believe in freedom” need to speak up and out on their behalf. No oppressed group attains freedom without help from others. A friend of mine said that a person cannot call him or herself an advocate for justice and be concerned only for his or her own situation. Until all of us are free, none of us are free …

A candid observation …

Speaking Freely is Risky

In spite of our Constitutional right of free speech, it is a fact that sometimes, when one dares speak out about something that is true, and not necessarily complimentary about our country or some powerful group, that individual stands to be, well, quieted.

I am thinking of two conversations that are swirling around our country right now. First, the presumptive candidate for Secretary of Defense, former Senator Chuck Hagel, has drawn criticism for saying that the “Jewish lobby is intimidating.”  And secondly, anyone who dares say that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be outlawed in this country stands to be called “unpatriotic” and one who is not in support of the Second Amendment.

First, the “Jewish lobby” statement. Is it safe to say that the Jewish people have a lot of power in this country, and that they probably DO have a strong lobby that MIGHT BE intimidating to some? I didn’t know there was a “Jewish lobby,” but so what if it is intimidating? The National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby is intimidating, isn’t it?  Someone said today that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has a lot of courage because she and her husband are going to promote gun control. She has courage, this newsperson said, because she is going up against the NRA. The reason the NRA lobby is intimidating is because it has power, and it has power because it is well-funded and well-organized. There is nothing wrong with that; it is doing what an effective lobby group is supposed to do.

If there is a Jewish lobby, and it is “intimidating,” that means that this lobby group, like the NRA, is well-funded and well-organized. That’s a good thing. Lobby groups exist to advocate for their people, their groups, their causes. If the Jewish lobby is “intimidating,” then good! To say that it is intimidating does not mean one is anti-Semitic, not in my view. It simply means that it is respected for the work it does and for the effects and result it produces.

There are some things that we as Americans don’t like to talk about, and if someone says something about those “things,” he or she stands to be criticized, free speech notwithstanding. When the war against Iraq began years ago, one could be dubbed “unpatriotic” if one criticized it. When someone says that certain policies and practices in this country are racist, he or she is accused immediately of playing “the race card.” When attention to the treatment of women in this country came front and center, one could be called “sexist” if he or she said that a woman was not qualified, for example, for a job or position that she clearly WASN’T qualified for.

It is a ridiculous way to live, being afraid to say what’s true. Saying what’s true, in a polite and civil way, having the freedom to do that, is part of what makes America …America.  I don’t think America ought to allow the sale of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. We are not in a war. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are for war, for military combat. They are meant to kill a lot of people in the shortest amount of time possible. I support the right of Americans to own guns – with proper procedures in place to check potential owners out – but there is no way ordinary people need to be walking around with semi-automatic weapons!

We as Americans think too narrowly. Just because I might criticize something America does or does not do does not mean I do not love America! If I criticize, or make a comment about the media being biased does not mean I hate the media. We are adults; we ought to be able to know the truth and talk about the truth, or even our opinion about the truth or untruth of a situation, without being labeled or shot down or criticized.

Whenever one has many rights and privileges, one also has great responsibility. The responsibility we have as Americans is to think more broadly and allow more views that our own, without labeling someone because he or she has a different opinion. Thinking so narrowly kind of makes a mockery of the “rights” we hold so dear.

A candid observation …