Tag Archives: Netanyahu

Because it is the Human Thing to Do

gaza boy 1Since Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza, a captive population in what is the world’s biggest open air prison, there have been scores of heartbreaking stories that have emerged from the Strip.  For the medical staff at Al-Shifa hospital there is barely a lull between patients flooding their corridors, bloody, screaming and near death.  But through it all these devoted staff members, many of them volunteers, have remained to help the wounded and comfort the bereaved.  They do this at great risk to their personal safety.  They do it because it is the human thing to do.

Politicians and military generals love to cite tactical statistics and spin their most heinous attacks into word games.  “Surgical precision” and “targeted killing” are some of the terms used this time in Gaza.  Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Gaza’s dead are “telegenic” meaning they have an “appearance or manner that is appealing on television.”  It is difficult to plum the depths of utter depravity in such a comment, but it is a defining characteristic  of the kind of person who can justify bombing hospitals, cafes and boys playing football on the beach.

The wordsmiths of organized murder will never understand the courage it takes to remain in a home, or a school, or a hospital even as the bombs are reigning down around them.  They will never know how a child’s hand feels as the life drains out of them on a cold, steel stretcher in a crowded corridor.  They will never no the crushing sorrow of having to tell a grandmother that her entire family has been killed in one indiscriminate attack.  They sit comfortably in leather chairs within the guarded, air conditioned catacombs they call “war rooms.”  They are shielded from such visceral experiences by the rhetoric they have carefully constructed to defend their patently indefensible actions.

But in the end their folly will be relegated to the dusty confines of a barely read book, while the warm touch of compassion generously given by a nurse, or doctor, or medic, will be remembered in the most sacred of places; the human heart.

Kenn Orphan  2014

Photo: Wounded Palestinian boy clutches medic, Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza (Photograph: Ezz al-Zanoun/APA images)

No Excuse

Palestinian boys watch a scene simulating clashes between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli soldiers in Gaza CitThere is grief in Israel today.  Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, had gone missing in mid June, and their bodies were found yesterday in a shallow grave in the occupied West Bank.   The grief in Israel echoes the grief of Palestinians whose children have been targeted far more often and almost always with impunity by settlers and by the Israel Defense Forces.  In March of this year 15 year old Youssef Shawamra was shot to death by IDF troops  as he picked wild thistles to be used for a meal.  In May Israeli forces killed Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, in an unprovoked attack caught on CCTV.  And just this month Mohammed Dudin, 15, was shot to death by Israeli soldiers in the infamous “Operation Brother’s Keeper”.  And these are only a few cases.

The killing of any child is abhorrent, but looking at American media coverage, or lack thereof,  regarding such tragedies reveals an insidious bias and an endemic racism.  In the last decade thousands of Palestinian children have been killed or maimed by Israeli occupation forces and settlers, and many more have been snatched from their homes in the middle of the night and spirited away to military detention centers.  According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and the UN there is ample evidence of torture and inhumane treatment at these facilities.  But this reality is obscured by the mainstream media.  It is as if they do not exist at all.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu begins his rampage of collective punishment in the West Bank and Gaza this lack of fair and unbiased journalism only pours fuel on the fire of animus and indiscriminate violence and fosters the myth that the conflict is equal.  Israel has a military, has occupied Palestinian territories for decades, colonized its lands and kept its population in a constant state of terror and oppression through home demolitions, destruction of fields and orchards and carving up properties with the wall of separation.  Israel controls the sea and air space and routinely fires on farmers tending their fields or fishermen attempting to bring in their catch.  When militants respond with rockets, Israel responds with collective punishment through bombings that level entire apartment blocks or critical infrastructure or the use of white phosphorus that blinds and burns children.

Of course the abduction and murder of these three Israeli teens is deplorable and the criminals should be found and punished.  But it should be noted that these boys were the children of illegal settlers in a region where settlers routinely harass and persecute the indigenous population, and vandalize property and destroy wells and farm land with impunity.  To ignore the conditions out of which this tragedy was born is nothing less than irresponsible, and as long as it persists the result will continue to be the same.

There is no excuse for the crime of harming or murdering children.  And as we mourn Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel whose lives were mercilessly cut short, we should take care to remember and mourn for Youssef Shawamra, Nadim Nuwara,  Muhammad Abu al-Thahirand and Mohammed Dudin, whose lives were also robbed of them by meaningless violence, and whose worth as human beings was not one bit less.

Kenn Orphan  2014

(Photo: Reuters)