Saturday, January 17, 2009

Caring About All People

Alleviate Palestinian Suffering


Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009 12:13 AM CST, The Tribune.
Most of us have heard what is happening in Gaza; many have seen horrible images of dead or dying children and civilians including those killed when “two Israeli tank shells struck (a UN) school in Jabaliya refugee camp, spraying shrapnel on people inside and outside the building.”

More than 40 people, mostly children, died in that direct hit adding to the more than 600 people killed as of this writing and almost 3,000 people injured.

While Americans can see the catastrophe happening before their eyes, few have heard the whole truth about the incursion into the prison that is Gaza. How many Iowans know Israel never has stopped controlling every aspect of life in Gaza even after they closed their settlements and claimed to leave? Palestinians forced to live in Gaza cannot get out of their prison by air, sea or land and; furthermore, they have nowhere to go.

Worldwide charities who try to provide essential food, water, fuel, medicines are stopped at Israeli check points. More than a million and a half Palestinians are so oppressed on a daily basis that they cannot live with even a modicum of the basic human rights acceptable to international agencies or to laws that make our American lives full of promise.

It is very easy to shake one’s shoulders or to feel sorry when such tragedy happens in other parts of the world, but it is heart-breaking to see many Americans assume that every Palestinian is a terrorist, as defined by the oppressors who use the term to justify their own breach of basic human norms and international treaties. Most Americans cannot be blamed for their perceptions for they have heard little but propaganda over the last 61 years of Israel’s existence.

Biases are long lived when a whole people is portrayed as not human in rhetoric and through misinformation. Who are these terrorists, we must ask, when we see babies lying dead in the streets? Are they terrorists or resisters?

We are told that Israel is only targeting Hamas, until everyone witnessed the killing of United Nations and Red Cross relief workers, forcing them to stop supplies, cutting off all food and medicine supplies. Why does Israel have a right to exist, but Palestine be ground into the earth? “Hamas, the breaker of a truce, is the target,” Israelis say.

Here, our government leaders say, “What if Canada sent missiles into Seattle? Wouldn’t we react?” I ask you, “Wouldn’t Canada react if we cut off their food, their water, their electricity, their medical supplies, their ability to come and go throughout their own land and, then, called them terrorists, to boot?”

We have been told by officials that Hamas started this fight and so no one has a right to ask that the killing stop including the UN Security Council. But, for the last two years, when Hamas did refrain from sending ineffectual rockets across their prison walls, Israel continued to torment them and their people.

It has come out that some leaders in Israel spent two years planning this offensive so that it would happen just before contested elections, rockets or no rockets. Who, then, really broke the truce?

The saddest thing in this “war” is that we in America are told that civilian deaths are unavoidable collateral damage. That is not what is said on British airwaves nor even by Israeli human rights organization like B’Tselem, who discredited the Israeli army’s propaganda, showing that oxygen cylinders not rockets are the true targets. You can see video proof of this posted by Israel itself on YouTube.

In the Gazan town, Rafah, people have been told to leave their homes, making some refugees for a second, third or fourth time. Some were children when they were scared away from their homes in1948. Some had to flee, again, in 1967 and others moved into open space, tents, camps whenever Israel determined that someone’s home or village had to be destroyed. The Palestinians had no place to go, then, and they have nowhere to go, now.

It is up to people of conscience all over the world, especially to people of conscience here in America to stop the slow death of the Palestinian people. We can do this by insisting that the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian Territories on Human Rights, who was detained and deported by Israel shortly before bombing started, be allowed return to investigate atrocities against civilians by Israel’s occupation forces.

We can say to our own government, “deal with our economic downturn by stopping our support of occupation and oppression of one people by another. Help provide security for all the people in this conflict and spend our taxes on creating peace and preserving human life in Palestine and in Israel instead of gifting our taxes to support violence and war that has no end.”

Finally, I invite you to use these links to gain more information or donate to alleviate Palestinian suffering:

html; or

Mohammad Jaber Kabbesh


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