Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trigger Event

I keep hoping for a trigger event. Like the time that the US government seemed determined to continue the war in Viet Nam. Then, a picture of a screaming nine year old naked child, with her clothes having been burned off and the look of absolute terror all over her young face appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Suddenly, this became a trigger event and Americans began wondering if this was the way to peace in Viet Nam.

I also think of all the preaching in Montgomery, Alabama denouncing segregation as an evil system.  Very little changed.  Then one day, Rosa Parks simply said, “I’m not going to sit in the back of the bus.”  That became the trigger event that lead to the civil rights of African Americans all over the southland.

I had hoped that the deliberate murder of 23 year old Rachael Corrie would have generated enough of a backlash that finally the US government would rise up and say, this has gone too far.  But in spite of the gory details of a multi-ton bulldozer crushing the life out of a young American girl, condemnation of Israel gained little traction.  Then, when Israel bombarded Gaza last summer for 51 straight days, I thought, surely this massacre of over two thousand people will spark a reaction to Israel’s senseless claim to own all of Palestine because “God” gave it to the Jews”. Yet again, when the bombs stopped falling and Gaza was left a pile of rubble, the nations of the world, especially the US, considered the conflict to be settled.

So, I ask, could the terrorist attack that burned little 18 month old Ali Dawabsha alive while he was sleeping in his own bed, become the trigger event that calls into question the whole oppressive regime of Israel’s occupation? At least, people are talking about it. The Associated press reported in American newspapers:

Israel intensified its crackdown on Jewish extremists Sunday imprisoning two high profile ultranationalist Israelis for six months without charge and arresting additional suspects in West Bank…The crackdown comes after a deadly July 31 firebomb attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank that killed an 18 month old and his father and severely wounding his mother and brother.[1]

One can only imagine the panic and fear that gripped two parents who in spite of exploding flames tried to save their children.

Netanyahu is “shocked”, he said. But he could not be surprised. He appointed as Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, who actively called for the genocide of Palestinians and championed calling their children “little snakes.” [2] It was Netanyahu who had called for the bombardment of Gaza where 500 children were burned, blown up or crushed to death in what he called “revenge,” the very same word those who burned little Ali and his family alive spray painted on the wall of his house. And Netanyahu continues to provide state funds and weapons to every settler and refuses to crack down on the thousands of settler violence targeting Palestinians. It was only a matter of time.

There have been some  2,100 settler attacks since 2006, including 120 in the 222 days of 2015 so far… only 1.4% of those who murder Palestinian children are ever indicted.  Juliana Farha says, “This might be news to you, but rest assured that Bibi knows all about it.”[3]

Shahd Abusalama, writing for Mondoweiss:

As one who carries the memories of many brutal Israeli attacks on Gaza, this claimed “shock” didn’t hit me. It rather outraged me at Israel’s crocodile tears and pretentious humanitarianism, despite its brutal military occupation of West Bank, the continued  expansion of its illegal settlements, the suffocating siege of the Gaza Strip that remain in ruins after Israel’s genocidal war last summer, and its ongoing assertion of itself as a “Jewish State” not a state for its citizens, as it discriminates against 1948 Palestinian citizens of Israel, or what its leaders call a “potential fifth column.”[4]

Netanyahu had to say something, no matter how disingenuous it might be. More than 2,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the killing.  Gilad Erdan, a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet said, “A nation whose children were burned in the Holocaust needs to do a lot of soul searching if it bred people who burn other human beings.”  Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, compared Jewish terrorist to ISIS. David Grossman wrote in the daily newspaper, Haaretz, “I can’t get this baby, Ali Dawabsheh, out of my mind.[5]  Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said, “I feel a sense of shame, and moreover a sense of pain. Pain over the murder of a small boy. Pain that from my people, there are those who have chosen the path of terrorism, and have lost their humanity.”[6]

A prime example of "lost humanity" was when Nasar Jaber, a Palestinian youth in Ramallah simply wished a young soldier at a check point to have a “good day.”  The soldier stopped him. “Am I your friend to wish me a good day? The soldier then struck Jabar in the head with the butt of his rifle, fracturing his jaw, and detained him two hours before allowing him to be taken to a hospital.[7]

According to B’Tselem, in the past three years since August 2012, Israeli citizens set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Additionally, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Palestinian taxi, severely burning the family on board. No one was charged in any of these cases… In recent years Israeli citizens set fire to dozens of Palestinian homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West Bank. The vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Police did not even bother to take elementary investigative action.[8]

Again, could the murder of little Ali Dawabsheh become the trigger event that turns the tide of Israel’s public opinion against Netanyahu’s reign of terror?  For the first time in decades, it seems possible.

Thomas Are
August 19, 2015

[1] Daniel Estrin, Israel Holds Jewish Extremists, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  August 10, 2015.
[2] David Harris-Gershon, You Aren’t “Shocked” Jewish Settlers Burned a Palestinian Baby Alive, Netanyahu You’re complicit.  Tikkun Daily August 1, 2015.
[3] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)  reported by Juliana Farha,  Someone Else’s Normal: The Dawabshe Tragedy and Picturing Palestine. Mondoweiss, August 13, 2015
[4] Shahd Abusalama, The Burning of a Palestinian child: not an exception, but results of Zionism,  Mondoweiss,  August 1, 2015.
[5] David Pratt, Something is Rotten in the State of Israel,  Information Clearing House,  August 10, 2015.
[6] Allison Duger,  Mother of Palestinian Baby Burned to death tried to Save her  Child, Mondoweiss,  August 2, 2015
[7] International Middle East Media Center, July 30, 2015
[8] Press releases from B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied TerritoriesB’tselem: A Burned Infant was only a Matter of Time in view of Policy to Not Enforce Law on Violent Settlers. published July 31, 2015.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Palestinian Lives Matter

As I consider the violations of human rights and all that Israel does to dishonor and humiliate their Palestinian neighbors, I think it would be a shorter list to try to come up with what Israel has not done.  Israel has not built gas chambers, has not used Palestinian bodies for medical experiments, or rounded up young Palestinian girls to be sex slaves.   That is to be commended.  But when compared with its record of human rights abuse, it is hard to overlook so many similarities with Nazi-like practices in which Israel engages in seeking a “final solution” to its “Palestinian problem.”  It’s not that Zionist Israel is totally similar to Nazi Germany. It’s that Israel is not un-similar enough in its Nazi-like tactics.  “Death to Arabs,” expresses the mood of the day and it has been for a long time.

In writing of the founding of Israel as a state, historian Arnold J. Toynbee declared:
The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 (and 1948) was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis…Though not comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality.[i]

Chris Hedges summarizes how it is today:

Israel’s goal is to make life a living hell for all Palestinians, ethnically cleansing as many as it can and subduing those who remain. The peace process is a sham. It has led to Israel’s seizure of more than half the land on the West Bank, including the aquifers, and the herding of Palestinians into squalid ghettos or Bantustans while turning Palestinian land and homes over to Jewish settlers. Israel is expanding settlements, especially in East Jerusalem. Racial laws, once championed by the right-wing demagogue Mier Kahane, openly discriminate against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.[ii]

A report by Action on Armed Violence found that Israel killed and injured more civilians with explosive weapons in 2014 than any other country in the world.[iii]

When Palestinians cry out to the world, “our lives matter,” they are not just asking that they be allowed to live, but that they be given the same dignity and security that any life deserves.  Try putting yourself in their place:

We as Palestinians are daily humiliated by the Israeli forces; our human rights are violated daily; our homes are demolished daily by bulldozers manufactured in the United States; our olive trees are uprooted on a daily basis; our land is confiscated and turned over into illegal settlements daily; our young people languish in Israeli jails with no charges or due process for months on end; our teenagers are taken from their beds in the middle of the night and imprisoned by the Israeli army on an average two by night; and the Israeli government continues its violations of international law while the nations of the world remain silent.[iv]

It’s not just that Israel, up-roots trees by the thousands, destroys homes, schools and wells,  Israel has a record of horrible treatment of children. 

Children in the West Bank:

--- Face arrest without warning, military courts, and physical violence at the hands of the Israeli forces.  According to Defense of Children International Palestine, 500 to 700 children each year are arrested and come into contact with the Israeli military system in the West Bank.

--- Over half of the arrests take place during raids on homes in the middle of the night. Children are routinely blindfolded and have reported being beaten, insulted, and threatened with rape.

--- A 2013 UNICEF report concluded that, ”the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.[v]

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs asks:

Do you know what American taxpayer money to Israel supports? Among other things, it funds the IDF’s  detention of thousands of Palestinian children --- 8,000 since 2000 --- who are pulled from their beds in the middle of the night, often beaten, denied access to their parents, food or a lawyer, and held without charge.[vi]
What will it take for us, the United States, to wake up and acknowledge the fact that, “Children’s lives matter,” even if they are Palestinians?  Yet, the US stands alone as the only country in the world to oppose a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for Israel to be accountable for war crimes.

Someone is going to say, “Oh come on. Comparing Zionist Israel to Nazi Germany is a bit over the top.”   And I will say, “Make you case.  I have made mine,” except to point out that the world went to war to stop Nazi Germany. On the other hand, Israel it still at it, and the world, especially the US, looks the other way as Zionism’s brutality rages on.

Thomas Are
August 1, 2015

[i] Naim Ateek, Justice and Only Justice, (Orbis Press, Maryknoll, New York, 1989) p.32
[ii] Chris Hedges, Why I Support the BDS Movement against Israel. Published by Truthdig, July 27, 2015.
[iii] Chris Hedges. Truthdig, 2015
[iv] Ateek’s Moral Universe., Mondoweiss,  July 7, 2015,
[v] Ylenia Gostoli,  Teen’s Death Highlights Israel Abuse of West Bank Youth.,  Al Jezeera,  July 6, 2015
[vi] These disturbing details were noted at a June 2 congregational briefing that featured Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old American teen beaten by Israeli police last summer. While he is now free, hundreds of children who don’t enjoy the privileges of American citizenship remain in Israeli prisons.  Reported in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,  August, 2015.