Monday, April 14, 2008

Anis Nin Nudges Us Toward Our Better Selves - My Final Piece in This Discussion

To the Editor, Ames Tribune:
From Betsy Mayfield

I have a picture of a lovely free-spirit from the past, Anis Nin, over my desk along with a comment she made. Said Nin, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” That statement is what I think of those who attempt to discredit writers who speak out on behalf of the Palestinian people or who dare to question the violent and terrorizing practices of the Israeli government that I, for one, see as immoral, unjust and plainly not in the best interest of peace including peace for Israelis. Were I in Israel, I could say this in the newspaper, Haaretz, and not be nearly as beset with animosity as I am in Ames, Iowa. For goodness sake, can we not tear ourselves away from nightly trivia about our presidential candidates long enough to find out what’s actually happening in our names all over the world?

I see the slander, the name calling, the slippery slope rebuttal as what those who do the speaking are. In the same way, my writing reflects what and who I am. The name calling has become so pervasive, especially the anti-Semite reference that it renders itself irrelevant. Worse it makes the term something people ignore even though the problem does, indeed, exist and needs our attention. I no long even blink when someone hurls that epithet at me. Those here in America who join me to insist on human rights for Palestinians and recognition of Arab humanity get the same slurs slung at them, even if, and probably more so, if they happen to be Jewish themselves. I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that this is the price of our activism. If anything, slurs against me or those who share my views make me want to speak out even more. When a critic chooses to throw querulous invectives at me, the remarks simply provide me with incentive.

A few days ago, I got a one-line email from the only family I actually know in Gaza saying, “Nothing has changed; we’re starving.” Another article complained that America is giving $6 million a day to Israel. Some say we give more; others less. Doesn’t matter. To me, whatever it is, it’s too much. I’m all for aid to developing countries; I am not for aid to abusive second world countries. I want my friends in Gaza to have a reasonably safe life like we do in Ames, Iowa. I want to encourage Americans to think about the aid our country continues to feed into Israel (and Egypt, too, for that matter) while ignoring the needs of people here on our own doorsteps. It's worse when countries we fund will not allow peace and bask in an endless show of arrogant power. We’ve become like the aging parent who supports a kid who won’t get off the couch even though he’s 60-years old. That the old bugger is nasty to his Mom, no matter; that he shuns his care giver, too bad. For goodness sake, are we blind?

There’s a blog on google from a person called Hope Man who lives in Sderot, where the Gazan missiles tend to land, and a person from Gaza who calls himself Peace Man. The Jewish blogger from Sderot wrote, “Our understanding that we cannot wait for our leaders to solve our problems for us and that if any change is to happen it will happen from us, the civilians. We, citizens of Gaza, Sderot and people all over the world desperately call you, our leaders and decision makers, to completely cease fire immediately.” For goodness sake, are we deaf? I’m all for Hope Man and Peace Man. It would be nice to be able to turn my attention elsewhere.


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