Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Save the Children!

I want the kids to stop being killed.

This is what I think about the current crisis in Gaza. I've written before about how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has too much sway over our foreign policy, how Israel shouldn't have gotten away with Rachel Corrie's murder, and how it’s wrong to encroach upon Palestinian land and restrict the movement of the Palestinian people. I also think it’s wrong to kill children and write their deaths off as collateral damage and I want it to stop.

Do you hear me, generals and ambassadors and ministers and experts? Just stop escalating the latest round of violence. More than 110 Palestinians (and three Israelis) have been killed since the sh*t hit the fan late last week. This statistic alone conveys how unjust and unbalanced the Israel/Palestine conflict has become.

My president’s approval of Israel’s aggression – three days ago he publicly announced his backing of Israel’s right to “defend itself” – reminds me of how disappointed I was in 2009 when the Nobel Committee gave him the Peace Prize for his efforts to “strengthen cooperation between peoples.” Obama also said that the escalating violence in the Middle East threatens the prospect for a lasting peace process.

Gee, Mr. President, ya think?

I don’t support bullies. And that’s what Israel has become: a big, dumb bully that’s too thick-headed and blinded by ideology to see that the world is against it. Everyone except, of course, my own country, which is kind of like Nancy in the film “Oliver” to Israel’s Bill Sikes – smart and beautiful but somewhat naïve and consumed by an unwavering love for someone who’s clearly not good for her or anyone else whose path he crosses. Nancy dies a violent death at Sikes’ hands toward the end of the movie; although the U.S. is nowhere near as vulnerable, it’s easy to see decay in the way we vote for our favorite contestant on “The Voice” but don’t lift a finger to protest the slaughter of scores of innocent Palestinian children.

By the way, if I hear one more supporter of Israel justify the deaths of these boys and girls by claiming that Palestinians use their own kids as human shields, I’ll go nuts. Even if that were true – and it’s not – people don’t need shields unless they’re trying to protect themselves from something. Stop pounding Palestine militarily, Israel, and children won't die in the streets like dogs.

Speaking of dogs, that’s what one Facebook friend likened Palestinians to during a recent online conversation about the violence in Gaza. He back-pedaled when challenged on this, thankfully, but I found this attempt to dehumanize an entire segment of the population interesting – especially coming from a Jew. One would think Jewish people would have a special sensitivity to persecution and dehumanization. (This is the same conversation during which I was labeled “anti-Semitic” because I dared say something less-than-glowing about the country that received more than $3 billion in foreign aid from American taxpayers in 2012.)

I don’t pretend to be a foreign policy expert and I acknowledge that this conflict is complex, wide-ranging and as old as Mitt Romney. I realize the Jewish people have rights to self-determination and safe cities (although not at the expense of the same rights of Palestinians). So I have a simplistic and perhaps naïve response to the latest round of fighting: just stop. Both sides need to just stop firing missiles, justifying murder and causing needless death. At this point it’s not about Hamas or Zionism or Bibi Netanyahu or a two-state solution. It’s about kids dying.

It doesn't even matter who fired the first missile or dropped the first bomb in this latest escapade. Perhaps Hamas bears responsibility for intentionally provoking Israel in order to garner public support. Maybe Israel is indeed defending itself and it just doesn't know its own strength. (Israel has top-of-the-line weapons and computer systems, is known for its advanced rocket and missile technology, and spent $16.2 billion on its armed forces in 2008 alone. Hamas has 300 fighters in the West Bank.) Both sides need to just stop dropping bombs and preparing for invasions.

Pound on negotiation tables and stick your tongues out at each other. Call each other names, spit in each other’s soup and walk on different sides of the street if you must. But stop dropping bombs on each other. Stop making a bad situation immeasurably worse.

As I write this, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on the way to the Middle East to advocate for an end to the violence - I wonder what Madam Secretary thinks about her own country’s drone attacks on Pakistan - and Egypt, which has been mediating talks, just announced that a ceasefire is expected soon. Israel hasn't confirmed this yet, though, and it’s surrounded Gaza with ground troops, insisting that “we’re ready” to fight like an overweight, pimply teenager who’s amped up on Red Bull and just itching to take a smaller kid’s lunch money. I sure hope the testosterone-fueled schoolyard bully turns around and walks away.

Update: No truce or ceasefire as of Wednesday morning. A bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 10 and demolishing the vehicle; Hamas militants are suspected. Sh*t’s still going down.

Update II (1:58 p.m.):  Multiple outlets are reporting that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire that begins at 9:00 p.m. Cairo time (2:00 p.m. ET).  

Image courtesy of Oriental Review

Sources: Huffington Post, BBC World News,,, Council on Foreign Relations.

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