Saturday, April 12, 2008


Shall we Abandon Hope?
Betsy Mayfield
Ames Tribune

Here are the facts: Eight yeshiva students have been slaughtered by one angry Palestinian in a manner much like America’s school boy shootings; in Gaza, more than 100 Palestinians have just been assassinated or murdered by Israeli Defense Forces penetrating a slice of land for which Israel takes no responsibility, except to imprison and torment the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there, not by choice, but because they have no where else to go and they can’t go home. Since the beginning of 2008, Israel caused the deaths of, at least, 238 Palestinians, 37 of them children. Palestinians caused the deaths of 14 Israelis, 4 of them minors. In 2007, Israelis killed 384 Palestinians and Palestinians killed 13 Israelis. This imbalance of deaths shows the result of the 20-of-ours-to-one-of-yours mentality which the government of Israel uses to maintain their “religious” state. The Israeli government, a magnificently armed military occupying power, has no trouble winning a war given that the people under siege have nothing but ineffective home made rockets and possibly, now, given a week long exodus from Gaza a couple real rockets with which to defend themselves. Neither the Gazans nor the West Bankers have any military might at all. Given America’s long-term involvement in support of Israel, (See Vanity Fair, April 2008) I am tired of paying for this. The United States gives 30 percent of its foreign aid to Israel to the tune of up to $3 billion a year or, if you prefer, more than $100 billion over multiple years. This comes from our US tax dollars. (

No one in the world doubts that Israel exists regardless of nasty rhetoric and war after war has been won to make it so, but now, other issues arise as old eras move into new eras. By building “the wall”, Israel has implied that they have the borders they want, although, if you ask, some may say, “well, we still want more and we’re scared and not safe.” My Jewish acquaintances, some sheer Zionist apologists; others, willing to concede the fatigue we all feel with the endlessness of this game, say that what’s happening now, the restructuring of Gaza into the worst refugee camp in the world, is part of the “war.” Sound familiar? Israel’s siege mentality, back by our own government’s complicity, not only cordons off the indigenous Palestinians, but also locks in the Israelis themselves. What a way to live! Knowing these things make it pretty easy to see what McCain means when he says that we’re in for 100-years of war. Again, who’s going to pay for all this, not only in terms of money, but of lives?

Finally, I’ve been told that while “individuals are moral, governments are not.” Governments, however, are made up of individuals. The people in governments have choices just like the rest of us. What’s the point of turning to religion to teach our children that its not good to lie, steal or kill if our kids are going to grow up and live or die under the thumb of immoral nationalism? Shouldn’t we just sell out the concepts of love and altruism if survival under immoral governments is all we have ahead? Yes, I am angry that Israel, with the complicity of the American government, insists that a winner can just go on occupying others, treating them with contempt and hatred and focusing the lives of generations on fear and hatred and war? I agree that we may be hard pressed to find historical examples of moral national strategies. Given that, maybe we should just stop looking for forgiveness in ourselves and others and just live to kill another day. The rationale that we can't expect governments to be moral crushes the concept of nurturing justice and peace. It promises a future of survival, but not the joy of living. Is it possible for us to consider the consequences of violence not only on our perceived enemies, but also on ourselves? What do you say: shall we abandon hope all together?


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