“Oppressed people will respond. Millions of Palestinians are oppressed. They are routinely humiliated and live under Israeli dominion. When Jon Stewart is lionized (and slammed in some circles) for ‘revealing’ Palestinian suffering to Americans, it suggests how hidden that suffering is. The way members of Congress have been falling over one another to demonstrate more vociferous support for Israel is a measure of a political climate not conducive to nuance. This hardly serves America’s interests. . . “
Roger Cohen, “Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do,” New York Times, August 3, 2014
The latest Israel/Gaza war is an incredibly disproportionate “war.” Close to 1600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, are dead as compared to about 65 Israeli soldiers and 4 civilians, a ratio of over 200 to 1. About ten thousand Palestinians have been wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged, including hospitals, schools and Gaza’s only power station. Sites where displaced civilians have gone to escape shelling have been bombed, including at least five U.N. schools, according to the New York Times. Much of the land used for food production has been “severely affected by the conflict,” according to the Times.
All of this and more is why this “war” has significantly advanced the movement to end Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation and the U.S. government’s cowardly support of it.
Yesterday evening I checked the 6:30 pm national TV news programs to see if they covered the demonstration of many thousands at the White House. I didn’t see any such coverage, but I did see on NBC and CBS surprisingly sympathetic reportage of the devastation caused by Israeli’s indiscriminate bombing and shelling of large sections of Gaza. It would be difficult to see such coverage and not be affected.
Do Israel and its uncritical supporters in the United States really believe that these abhorrent tactics are going to crush the resistance of the Palestinians? It is a truth of human history, as Roger Cohen wrote today in the New York Times, that “oppressed people will respond” to their oppression.
More than that: uncritical support for Israel in the United States, Israel’s essential ally, is clearly eroding. In Cohen’s column he reports on a “recent survey by the Pew Research Center that among Americans age 65 or older, 53% blame Hamas for the violence and 15% Israel [but] for those ages 18 to 29, Israel is blamed by 29% of those questioned, Hamas by just 21%.” Time is not on the side of Israel and AIPAC, the American Israel Political Action Committee.
Israel’s militaristic, right-wing government was on the political defensive before this latest military overkill campaign in part because of the growing strength internationally of the BDS movement (http://bdsmovement.net). In the words of the website, “in 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call, including in the United States.”
That global movement has been demonstrating in the street for weeks, repeatedly, ever since Israel unleashed its escalating reign of terror on Gaza, and those demonstrations need to and will continue until Israel is forced to stop.
In the US, demonstrations and a growth of the BDS movement are needed to force the Obama Administration to shift its position. Without US support Israel could not get away with its continuing occupation. In practical terms, the over $3 billion per year provided by US taxpayers, much of it for the Israel military, is an essential prop which, if taken away or reduced, would make it much more difficult for military actions like what is taking place right now.
I have been an opponent of Israel’s occupation for many years and have participated in actions calling for justice and peace for both Palestinians and Israelis. But like many other U.S. progressives, I have often despaired as far as the realistic prospects for such a result, and not just because of the intransigence of the Israeli government. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the two dominant Palestinian political groups, are not groups with which I share a close political affinity.
But I was encouraged when, two months ago, a Palestinian unity government agreement was reached between them. In retrospect, it is now clear that this development had a great deal to do with what has transpired in Gaza over the last four weeks. Israel, as it has done often in the past, responded to this positive development for the Palestinians with provocative actions that eventually led to their all-out reign of terror.
It is up to all of us who support human rights and social progress to make this latest Israeli outrage their political Waterloo, a turning point in the struggle for justice for Palestinians, peace for Palestinians and Israelis and a change in the U.S’s support of repressive regimes throughout the Middle East.
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com.