Though we live in the 21st century, it seems that maybe our Western world has been caught in a time warp. If anyone thinks we can atone for sins committed in the 20th century by giving the green light to Israel for every action it wishes to pursue, no matter how destructive, he or she may want to consider this: Turning our backs on the atrocities being committed against Palestinians today is merely allowing for another great sin to occur.
Israeli soldiers have competed to see who can kill the most Palestinians, according to Israeli media. Women and children are being tortured in prisons. Of the more than 900 Palestinians who have been killed during the last 16 months, at least 200 of them have been children. More than 200 Palestinians are in vital need of kidney dialysis machines, and many others have died at checkpoints during medical emergencies. Yet, the world is silent.
Peace activists, like Dr. Mustapha Barghouti, have been beaten and arrested. Other Palestinian leaders are assassinated by simple orders of Army Chief of Staff, Shaul Mofaz. Note that Israel has the fourth most powerful army in the world and they have unleashed their arsenal without mercy on an unarmed Palestinian population — this is unprecedented in world history. Israeli tanks now encircle Palestinian towns and are present on every major road in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Bombings and shellings are a regular occurrence. Yet, the world is silent.
The Palestinian economy has been destroyed, as have all of their institutions. Unemployment is as high as 60%. The education of every child and university student has been infringed upon. In other words, the Palestinians have zero security for themselves. Yet, the world is silent and ironically, the Palestinians are told that they can do more for Israel’s security. Palestinians are asking, “Where is the civilized world while we are besieged and being killed each day?”
Indeed, where is the civilized world? And are we really interested in genuine peace? Like the battered wife who is told by her abusive husband that she is responsible for his behavior, so the Palestinians are being told that they are to blame for any inhumane measures that Israel wreaks on them. This kind of abusive relationship is not going to lead to any meaningful peace. Why aren’t we ensuring that the wife is protected and that her rights are upheld? In other words, why are UN resolutions, which would order international forces or monitors to protect the Palestinians, being vetoed? Why is Israel the sole determinant of whether or not there can be international observers, in the first place, when it is the Israelis whom Palestinians want protection from? And why are we expecting international laws, which pertain to Palestinians, to be compromised or thrown out the window?
Add to this, the continued patronization of Ariel Sharon. He says, “seven days of quiet or no talks.” And remember, it is seven days of quiet on the part of the Palestinians. This does not apply to the Israeli Defense Force soldiers, who have even been known to steal items from Palestinian automobiles during traffic accidents. Sharon knows this is not possible and is, in fact, banking on it. After all, he was elected during a time of crisis. Crisis has been the lifeblood of Sharon’s regime, and peace is not in his best interest.
Sharon has also been known to say that he plans to “finish” Israel’s War of Independence . Even he is caught in a time warp, but history has shown that no army in the world can battle a people’s will to be free. And while Israel fights with the mentality that “might makes right,” the Palestinians are fighting with the mentality of that famous American hero, Patrick Henry, “give me liberty or give me death!”
Ultimately, even Jews who died in the Jewish Holocaust would be unimpressed with the world’s silence toward atrocities perpetrated on Palestinians. In fact, Israel’s behavior tarnishes the lessons of those Jewish survivors who have dedicated their lives to teaching tolerance and dignity throughout the world. For these Jews, “Never again!” applies to Jews, as well as Rwandans, Poles, Armenians, Nicaraguans, the Irish, Palestinians, and others in our human race.
Ultimately, holding Israel responsible for its abhorrent behavior is to pay tribute to those who needlessly died. Certainly, turning a blind eye to another tragedy isn’t going to atone for the sins of the West.
Sherri Muzher is a Palestinian-American activist, lawyer, and freelance journalist.