Sunday, July 6, 2014


I remember very well the kidnapping and murder of three civil right workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi. I was living in Mississippi and I cried for them and their families. I was angry. They were good “kids,” who risked their lives to help an oppressed people and had hurt no one in the process.  I also remember, everyone knowing exactly who to blame.  Yet, in my wildest emotion, I never dreamed that my government would go after the Ku Klux Klan, or the State of Mississippi, with tanks and bombs. The whole nation would have been outraged at the thought of homes being destroyed, hundreds of people arrested and innocent kids killed.  Go after the guilty, OK, but for heavens sake, do not pounce on the whole community. That is not the way democracy works. It’s not even the way decent human beings protect themselves or treat others.

Now, fast forward to last week, June 12, 2014.  Three Israeli teens, living in a settlement built on stolen land, were kidnapped and killed by God only knows who. Nevertheless, Netanyahu said, “It was Hamas and they will pay.”  Certainly, Hamas had kidnapped in  the past, most notably Gilad Shalit in 2006.  He was treated humanely. Hamas wanted to use him as a bargaining chip in an exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Hamas openly announced its responsibility and purpose. It causes one to wonder, what would Hamas have to gain by killing three young teens?

Since then, at least ten Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers. This morning’s newspaper reports the abduction of a young Palestinian teen. He had been burned alive.

Palestinian Attorney General Abdelghani al Owaiwi said he received initial autopsy results from a Palestinian doctor who was present at the autopsy in Tel Aviv. He said it shows that 16 year old Palestinian , Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose death has sparked large protest in his east Jerusalem neighborhood suffered burns on “90 percent of his body.
            “The results show he was breathing while on fire and died from burns and their
             consequences,” al-Owaiwi said.
            His account provided the first details of the preliminary findings to be made public.   
            The autopsy found evidence that Abu Khdeir had breathed in the flames as burns were
            found inside his body, in his lungs, bronchial tubes and his throat.[1]

In retaliation for the death of their three, Israel has arrested over 550 Palestinians, including children hefted from their bed in the middle of the night, hauled away to be brutally treated, denied sleep, water, and the right to use a bath room. Even visits by a parent or a lawyer are denied. Fifteen hundred homes, businesses and schools have been raided and Gaza has endured more than 40 bombings, even though the kidnapping took place in the West Bank.

Since the year 2000, 1,384 children have been killed. Of that number, only about 40 were engaged in hostile activities, such as throwing rocks at soldiers occupying their land.[2]

Maybe the saddest part is that we hear very little of this side of the story from our media.  The evening news simply dismisses it as a “cycle of violence,” which must be addressed by the parties involved.  They seldom mention that this violence is taking place in occupied land and that only one side uses planes, tanks, and white phosphorus to punish an entire people.

Back in 1964, I celebrated the trial and conviction of those responsible for the death of three civil rights workers. I also celebrated living in a democracy that punished them because they were guilty of a crime and not because they belonged to the Klan or just happened to live in the State of Mississippi.

God help us.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                July 6, 2014

[1] Mohammad Daraghmah, Doctor: Arab teen was Burned Alive. Atlanta-Journal-Constitution,
Sunday, July 6, 2014.,  P. A-2.
[2] Pam Bailey and Medea Benjamin, Children’s Lives in the Balancer (Is one worth more than another? Mondoweiss, July 1, 2014. Also see Action Alert, Jewish Voice for Peace, July 2, 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment