Edna Yaghi’s Column
As an American citizen I am writing to you out of an even deeper sense of frustration, anger and concern over your reaction to what you term “violence” in Occupied Palestine.
It seems to me that you have forgotten that not so long ago, our forefathers valiantly struggled and bravely fought for their own independence and freedom from British oppression. Poorly armed and for the most part, not trained in the tactics of warfare, these American colonists stood fast against a far superior British army.
Until now, Americans celebrate the victory their forefathers won from British tyranny. On July 4, we dedicate and honor those brave warriors who died so that we can be free. We celebrate our independence with fireworks and we remember with pride those bloodstained fields were our countrymen sacrificed their lives so that their children and their children’s children could live in a land free from oppression.
But now when you see Palestinian children die in the street, you turn cold-heartedly away and denounce these Palestinian Davids as terrorists. When you see heavily armed Israelis soldiers grab young Palestinians who scream in terror as they are being dragged away to torture and prison, you pretend not to hear their cries or see the blood that the Israelis beat out of them.
Surely stones thrown by small hands are no match for gunboats, helicopters, armored jeeps and army tanks. Surely constant bombarding of Palestinian civilian homes and medieval trenches dug around Palestinian cities to cut them off from one another is no match for basically unarmed demonstrators. Palestinians are collectively punished in such inhuman and barbaric ways that it is difficult for the rational mind to understand, yet you call Palestinians fighting for their freedom and a state of their own “terrorists” while you call the brutal suppression of these freedom fighters as an aggression against innocent Israeli citizens. I think you have things a bit confused here. It is Israeli gunboats, helicopters, armored jeeps and tanks that bombard Palestinian homes on Palestinian land not the other way around. Most of the over 400 dead are Palestinian and a great deal of these are children. More than 20,000 Palestinians have been injured and many of the wounded sustain permanent disabilities. Many children have lost a limb or two and many more have lost an eye or eyes. Many of the children injured were not even throwing stones but were shot on the way to or from school, while playing in the street or while inside their homes.
You speak about the PLO as instigating your definition of “violence,” but you are not outraged about the real violence that is constantly waged against the Palestinian civilians. You honor Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when you know that he already has the blood of innocent Palestinian civilians on his hands from his former atrocities such as Sabra and Shatella and is now waging a war of genocide against the Palestinian people. Yet either you do not care or you are too senile or drunk or drugged or something else must be seriously wrong with you that you cannot see or do not want to see the truth.
Do you deny the truth so that you can keep your seats in Congress? Are you so willing to sell your souls to the devil that you condone and allow the killing and maiming of children to continue because these children are not your own? Will condemning the PLO and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat win you more Jewish votes? Is this what it is all about? Is there no honest man among you who will stand up for the truth no matter where it leads him?
If anything should be reassessed, it should be the way you treat Israeli officials and Israeli atrocities. If anything should be affirmed or reaffirmed, it should be US relations with Israel. If any country in the world should have sanctions imposed against it, it should be Israel and none other. And if any leader should not be allowed to enter America it should be Sharon and if any embassy should be banished from American soil, it should be the Israeli one.
Furthermore, Israelis never offered the Palestinians anything more than they deserved. What Israelis were offering prior to the Intifada al-Aqsa was less than 22% of original Palestine and even this small amount is full of Israeli settlements that you endorse and support with American tax money. Palestinians did not chose violence over peace and the Intifada was not a result of opting for war but because of the continued brutality of the Israeli government and because even before he was prime minister, Ariel Sharon intruded into the Muslim holy place, al Harem al Sharif with more than 1000 Israeli troops. He did this on purpose because he knew the Palestinians would be outraged. This was his excuse to provoke the Palestinians and when the Palestinians rise up against Sharon’s brutal and inhumane slaughter of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, you are amazed and angered.
This is a Holocaust being waged against a civilian population. Sharon would love to either kill what is left of the Palestinian population or drive them out of their country and off their land. You have failed to see the homes that have been demolished, the trees that have been uprooted, the farms that have been destroyed, the ambulances that are full of bullet holes while carrying the wounded to hospitals.
You do not see, you do not want to see Palestinian blood running in the streets of Palestine. But as long as you condone such evil acts and such crimes against humanity, the blood of the innocents indelibly stains your hands and poisons your hearts.
I suggest you take a long hard look at yourselves and instead of being outraged at the Palestinians who are fighting for freedom just as our forefathers did, do your best to stop the mass slaughter of the Palestinian people. As long as you do nothing, you should hang your heads in shame for you are criminals yourselves and are as guilty as Sharon. It is time to stop punishing the victim and rewarding the killer.