Did you know that Israeli settlers who live in the occupied territories of the West Bank have access to PayPal (the world’s largest online payment processor) but their immediate neighbors, the Palestinians, do not? PayPal has been withholding its services to Palestinians — a fact I didn’t know until today.
I learned from MPower Change @MPower_Change that PayPal shareholders will vote today on a proposal to extend services to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In his 2022 Annual Report, the PayPal CEO reported “Today, we are empowering hundreds of millions of consumers and merchants to join and thrive in the global economy, and we’re contributing every day to expanding economic opportunity for customers and communities around the world.” Why then …. are Palestinians prevented from these economic opportunities? Representative Mark Pocan and ten other members of Congress sent a letter to PayPal about its discriminatory services.
I’m writing today to express my alarm and outrage over Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow in Gaza which the Haaretz editors have stated “raises moral and legal questions about Israel’s military”. (Haaretz Editorial May 10, 2023). I assume (hope) that you are receiving daily briefings and so I won’t recap the statistics or the devastation. More than 2 million Palestinians are enduring the trauma of deprivation, fear and potential loss of life as Israel carries out its inhumane aggression against a civilian population trapped in the densely packed Gaza Strip by Israel’s decades-long occupation and siege.
My specific requests of you are:
Make a public declaration that the U.S. recognizes and supports international humanitarian law and does not condone Israel’s preemptive military actions in the Gaza Strip and call upon the Israeli government to end Operation Shield and Arrow immediately.
Invoke the requirements of the Leahy Law which prohibits the U.S. government from funding units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights. As you probably know, the U.S. now provides Israel with more than $3.8 billion per year. Direct the State Department to investigate Israel’s conduct of Operation Shield and Arrow. Inform the Israeli government that U.S. funding will cease immediately until or unless the State Department’s investigation has cleared Israel of any wrong doing to your satisfaction.
Release your Administration’s report on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli troops in Jenin a year ago, and publicly acknowledge the FBI’s investigation into her killing.
Redirect the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who this week blocked the Security Council’s resolution condemning Israel’s current actions in the Gaza Strip. The U.S. must stand in solidarity with the community of nations who recognize and condemn Israel’s war crimes.
I’m making specific requests and would appreciate direct responses to my requests. I’m also mailing to you a copy of Light in Gaza – Writings Born of Fire (edited by Jehad Abusalim, Jennifer Bing, and Michael Merryman Lotze) published in 2022. These are stories written by Palestinians in Gaza about living under Israel’s decades long military occupation. I believe I sent you a copy of this book late last year, but I hope this copy will make it into your hands.
Don’t be numbed, don’t be lulled into complacency. As of today, Israel’s current Operation Shield and Arrow in Gaza has killed 26 Palestinians, including women and children, and injured many more. Thousands are taking shelter in their homes, although there is no protection from Israel’s bombardment.
Israeli officials say they targeted three senior Islamic Jihad commanders, a preemptive action to prevent alleged attacks on Israel. Attacking them in their homes, they surely knew their wives, children and other family members would be victims too. If the new (old) normal under international law is to condone preemptive deadly action against military leaders, then I suppose any foreign actor who feared U.S. military aggression would be justified in taking out the U.S. President and his family in a preemptive strike. Such action, whether initiated by Israel or any foreign actor, is a clear violation of international law, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.
Deliberately throwing international law into the wind is, sadly, the new normal. Take for example all of the journalists that Israel has killed.
Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN) is demanding that the Biden Administration release its report on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli troops in Jenin a year ago, and publicly acknowledge the FBI’s investigation into her killing.
Americans hear very little from our mainstream press about Israel’s military actions in support of its 75 years of occupation of Palestinians. We know nearly nothing of the context for the resistance. When the spokepersons for the White House and the State Department are put on the spot, they are adept at side-stepping reporters’ questions about Israel – Palestine. Thankfully, the questions are becoming more direct and relevant to uncovering the truth.
Don’t be numbed, don’t remain silent. Listen carefully to how the stories are presented. WAKE UP!
This might not seem the most auspicious time to reflect on a new way of thinking. Our passions and grievances (and perhaps our reptilian brain) lead us to the inevitable conclusion that we must take sides. “My side” is the right one, of course. And we put all of our energy (even during times of quiet and somber reflection during Ramadan and Passover) to proving the “other side” is wrong.
Deb Reich, author of No More Enemies, and an American-Israeli-Jew who lives on a kibbutz in southern Israel, has chosen this time to write about the need to think differently, act differently, and strike out on a transformational evolutionary path that values partnership. She writes:
Science has suggested that a long evolutionary process has molded us in certain ways because those directions helped us survive as a species. But a clear-eyed look around should be sufficient to demonstrate that some of those once-useful tweaks are now obstacles to our further evolution… beyond the zero-sum adversarial behavior that’s gotten us this far but arguably isn’t working any more. To save ourselves while being sufficiently compassionate to the planet and all its other creatures, because we’re all in the same boat, we urgently need to learn this one, crucial thing: how to function, when it counts, if not all of the time, in a win-win partnership mode that transcends our many differences and puts us all on the same problem-solving, solutions-crafting team.
Partnership (not Zion) is the Promised Land, The Times of Israel, April 3, 2023.
This might actually be the perfect moment to write because it’s easier to see the light when it’s juxtaposed with the darkness. Please read her entire blog post here, and see if you agree.
Rachel in her own words. Footage from Rachel’s interview conducted by Middle East Broadcasting Company on March 14th, 2003, two days before she was murdered by the Israeli Defense Forces. Listen. Feel. Act. Her life proves one person can make a difference!
I just received an invitation from Veterans for Peace (Chapter 63) to hear Emile Nakhleh speak on zoom on Monday evening, March 13. Born in Galilee, Palestine in 1938, Professor Nakhleh is a former CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer, Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at UNM, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He writes and lectures on Israeli and Palestinian issues, political Islam, Islamic radicalization, climate disaster in the Middle East, and the Arab state of the Middle East.
On the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Professor Nakhleh published a paper entitled “The Iraq War was dominated by groupthink and absolutely no humility” in which he concluded:
Intelligence and policy expertise on Iraq were made available to policymakers at the highest levels, but such expertise and in-depth analysis were ignored. Groupthink and seemingly a lack of interest in what expert analysts had to offer underpinned the war decision, which in turn resulted in the debacle that followed.
As the country observes the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion and before our leaders embark on another regime change adventure, they should base their decision on deep expertise about the target country, strong and verifiable intelligence, a nationally acceptable rationale, and clear end-game objectives. Above all, they should display genuine humility regarding the limits of the United States’ ability to control the unfolding of events and the resulting outcomes and broader repercussions.
Responsible Statecraft – February 27, 2023
A year after President Biden took office, Professor Nakhleh shared his advice about how the Administration should respond to Netanyahu and the Israel-Palestine
Over the years, America’s unfettered support for Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian policies have empowered him to jettison the peace process and continue his aggressive settlement projects in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank. With American support, Netanyahu has advanced the false narrative that the “Arab street” has gotten tired of the Palestinian issue, thereby giving him the excuse to ignore the core issue of the Israeli occupation and deep-seated Palestinian humiliation and misery. Arab reaction to the destruction in Gaza and the Arab uprising in Israel have unmasked the falsehood of Netanyahu’s narrative.
The Biden administration has the opportunity—and the support of a significant segment of the Democratic Party in Congress—to right this imbalance. Biden should tell Netanyahu, in word and in deed, that he sees a distinction between Israel as a state, which we support, and Netanyahu as a politician, whose policies we have the right to question. America’s support for Israel’s security doesn’t automatically extend to Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian policies—domestically and regionally.
Netanyahu’s Obsession and the Palestinian Uprising, The Cipher Brief, May 20, 2021
This is certainly a man I want to hear from and I’m looking forward to the zoom gathering on Monday evening.
My questions for Professor Nakhleh:
Given the current realities in Israel and Palestine, and the level of official state-sanctioned violence against the Palestinians, how would Professor Nakhleh advise President Biden if he had his ear and undivided attention?
If President Biden took my advice to heart (see here) and spelled out the nature of the “special relationship” between Israel and the U.S., what would Professor Nakhleh recommend that Biden include on the list of actions, policies or norms that, if Netanyahu violated any of them, the Biden Administration would acknowledge that Israel has undermined these shared values, interests, and policy goals….and take appropriate action in response?
Who are the loudest voices on foreign policy in the Biden Administration today? What role should the American public play in trying to shape U.S. foreign policy?
What does Professor Nakhleh understand is the biggest impediment to the U.S. playing a constructive role in the Middle East?
I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from Professor Nakhleh.
In its detailed coverage of the UNSCOP report, TheEconomist in early September 1947 called the majority plan “both unjust and unworkable.” The majority plan recommended that the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine, which made up 34 percent of its population, be given almost two-thirds of the country’s land area, both of its ports, most of its primary water sources and most of its valuable citrus plantations. At the time, the Yishuv only owned 7 percent of the land in Palestine. Almost all of Palestine’s industries—Arab, Jewish and foreign—would be in the new Jewish state. Yet, under this plan, the Jewish state would still be demographically a binational state, with almost an equal population of Jews and Palestinian Arabs. For their part, the Palestinians were asked to accept a rump statelet with little of the country’s economic wealth, and a heavy dependence upon the goodwill of the new Jewish state to make the proposed economic union functional.
With modifications, the UNSCOP majority plan was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947 in Resolution 181. The General Assembly vote was delayed several times because the United States and the Jewish Agency representatives were not confident that they had gathered the requisite two-thirds of U.N. member states to support the partition resolution. Only after significant diplomatic arm-twisting, and an abrupt change of mind by several developing countries, was the final vote conducted. While slightly more territory was assigned to the proposed Arab state by the General Assembly, the lopsided features of the UNSCOP majority plan remained largely intact. The rest has been a calamitous history for the Palestinians.
We should each return to the beginning and remember this history which unleashed the trauma that persists to this day. And if you don’t know this history, Professor Lynk’s essay is a good place to begin.
The partition of Palestine as recommended by the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine, Sept. 1, 1947. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Then I started wondering about the website/publication/organization that had published Professor Lynk’s essay. DAWN – Democracy for the Arab World Now – was founded in early 2018 by Jamal Kashoggi just months before his brutal murder in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. I had never heard of DAWN.
The deliberate de-development of democracy and the erosion of human rights in the Arab world are detrimental to its peoples, economies, and future prospects for peace and prosperity. Since the brief flowering of the Arab Spring in 2011, the region has seen a harsh crackdown against democratic dissent and youth activism. Many tens of thousands have been forced into exile. Many more have been killed, jailed, and silenced at home. Repressive governments – often with powerful United States backing – have joined forces to block the democratic aspirations of their peoples.
Friends, colleagues, and supporters are now carrying on Kashoggi’s legacy – establishing DAWN with the mission of advancing democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in member nations of the Arab League through an integrated program of monitoring and research, advocacy and publicity, publications, and broad-based coalition-building.
I explored the DAWN website and found the most recent essay published February 13, 2023. Ending the ‘Special Relationship’: A Proposal for Transforming the Biden Administration’s Israel Policy. See here. WOW! Stay tuned!
Israel has occupied Palestine (including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip) since 1967. FULL STOP. No debate, no counter factual, no denial. Palestinians have been living under a military occupation for 55 years. Several generations have been born and died under military rule.
Map of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip), marked by the Green Line. Based on Reference Map: occupied Palestinian territory: Overview Map, as of December 2011. Published by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHAoPt), 25 January 2012
Israeli checkpoint for Palestinians posted by Husam Jubran on Facebook Nov. 2, 2017
In September 2022, the current Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, noted that the three main approaches commonly used to examine Israel’s occupation of Palestine (namely, the humanitarian approach, the political approach, and the economic development approach) are inherently flawed because “they conflate root causes and symptoms, and focus on Israel’s lack of compliance with international law as a siloed phenomenon, rather than a longstanding structural component of the prolonged disenfranchisement of the Palestinians under occupation.” Albanese spelled out Israel’s actions during the past 55 years of occupation, including the territorial fragmentation of Palestine – preventing unity, the exploitation of natural resources – preventing economic prosperity for Palestinians, erasing Palestinian cultural and civil rights – preventing identity, preventing political existence (and resistance), and preventing statehood – “negotiating the illegal”? Her report is a must read, available online here.
Special Rapporteur Albanese called for a paradigm shift, starting with —
the recognition of the current reality in the occupied Palestinian territory as that of an intentionally acquisitive, segregationist and repressive regime, which has enabled, for 55 years, the disenfranchisement of the Palestinians, caging them into Bantustans of disrupted memories, broken ties and hopes, pursuing the ultimate goal to consolidate minority rule over a native majority on lands usurped through force, abusive and discriminatory policies and pillaging of resources. A prolonged occupation maintained for ostensible “security reasons” disguising Israeli settler-colonial intentions to extinguish Palestinian people’s right of self-determination while acquiring their receding territory as its own, as explicitly indicated by Israeli political figures, is something that the international community can no longer tolerate. This must be addressed in a holistic fashion. (Link to report.)
Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese
The Special Rapporteur’s recommendations in September 2022 included — 1) Israel complies with its obligations under international law and ceases to impede the realization of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, ends it settler-colonial occupation immediately and make reparations. 2) All states condemn the intentional violations by Israel of the Palestinian right to self-determination; deploy an international protective presence to constrain the violence routinely used in the occupied Palestinian territory and to protect the Palestinian people; investigate and pursue accountability through both the ICC and universal jurisdiction mechanisms; prevent, investigate and redress human rights abuses by all business enterprises in their jurisdiction, including disengaging from the colonies. 3) The High Commissioner for Human Rights should immediately release the updated database of businesses involved in the settlements. 4) Encourage the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to investigate the status of the right to self-determination and Israeli settler-colonial endeavors in more depth. (Full Report)
Just like clockwork, the messenger faced a horrific smear campaign following the release of her report. Illustrating the perverse and damaging role of the U.S. in Israel’s occupation of Palestine, several Democratic and Republican members of Congress have called on the U.N. Secretary General to fire Special Rapporteur Albanese. (Here and here.)
Lynk opined that Israel’s long-term occupation is illegal because of its duration (50+ years). Albanese urged a paradigm shift in how the international community examines the occupation. In November 2022, Dr. Ralph Wilde issued a legal opinion that explains why Israel’s occupation as a system of control and domination is without a valid legal basis from its inception.
Dr. Ralph Wilde, Associate Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London, University of London. (bio)
Dr. Wilde’s opinion reads like a legal brief intended for a court, certainly not for the general public. Having a legal education, reading Noura Erakat’s work, and completing a couple of international law classes online, I felt prepared to read the 79-page opinion. What I wasn’t prepared for was the comprehensive recitation of international humanitarian laws, international human rights laws, and international criminal laws all focused with laser precision on the question of whether Israel’s occupation of Palestine is legal or illegal? And the conclusion? The occupation is existentially illegal and must end immediately without preconditions. Every day the occupation continues is a violation of international law.
Listen to Dr. Wilde explain his legal opinion in his own words — minutes 25:40:00 to 39:00:00.
Summary of Dr. Ralph Wilde’s Legal Opinion (full opinion available online here)
This Opinion clarifies what the terms ‘legal’/‘illegal’ mean, in relation to the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, according to the relevant, multiple areas of applicable international law. It explains how the different forms of ‘legality’/ ‘illegality’ relate to each other, and how they apply to the occupation. In each area of law, it explains what difference ending illegality would make (e.g., ending abuses, preventing annexation, ending the occupation itself). The meaning and significance of the following terms/areas of international law are explained: self-determination; settler colonialism; the jus ad bellum/law on the use of force/aggression; (belligerent) occupation/prolonged occupation; statehood; sovereignty; title to territory; annexation; apartheid; jus in bello/law of armed conflict/international humanitarian law (IHL)/laws of war/occupation law; international human rights law (IHRL); international criminal law (including the crime of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of apartheid, the crime of torture); United Nations law and the law of treaties.
Legality/illegality can refer to the existence of the occupation, or its conduct, or both.
As to existential legality/illegality, the occupation, simply by virtue of exercising control over the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, and consequently preventing the Palestinian people from full and effective self-governance, constitutes a fundamental impediment to the realization of the right of self-determination enjoyed by the Palestinian people in international law. The only basis such an impediment could be legally justified is according to the law on the use of force—the jus ad bellum.
Assuming, hypothetically, that Israel had a right of self-defence in 1967 that justified, legally, the introduction of the occupation then, this justification has not persisted, nor has an alternative legal justification arisen. There has been no actual or imminent armed attack justifying, as necessary and proportionate, the occupation as a means of self-defence. And the doctrine of preventative self-defence, justifying the occupation as a means of stopping a threat from emerging, has no basis in international law. Neither United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, nor the so-called Oslo Accords, provide an alternative legal basis for the existence/continuation of the occupation. Indeed, the Oslo Accords are themselves violative of international law, because ‘consent’ to them by the PLO was coerced through the illegal use of force, and, relatedly, they conflicted with norms of international law that have a special non-derogable/jus cogens status (the prohibition on the use of force other than in self-defence, and the right of self-determination). More generally there is no international law right to maintain the occupation pending a peace agreement, and/or as a means of creating facts on the ground’ that might give Israel advantages in relation to such an agreement, and/or as a means of coercing the Palestinian people into agreeing a settlement to the situation that they would not accept otherwise.
The consequence of the foregoing is that there is no valid international law basis for the existence of the occupation. In consequence, the occupation is an unlawful use of force, an aggression, and a violation of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, on the part of Israel and, in the case of aggression, also a crime on an individual level for senior Israeli leaders. As a result, the occupation is existentially illegal and must end immediately. Legally, the requirement of termination is not contingent on particular circumstances being present. Specifically, the following factors or conditions cannot be, by themselves, a pretext for delaying termination: willingness/consent by Israel; the adoption of a peace agreement; the adoption of standards within or the giving of undertakings by the Palestinian people; approval by the UN, the Quartet, other states etc. In consequence, every day the occupation continues is a breach of international law.
The existential illegality of the occupation arises out of the simple fact of the occupation as a system of control and domination without a valid legal basis. This is then compounded by the occupation’s prolonged duration, its link to de jure and de facto annexation, and the egregious abuses perpetrated against the Palestinian people. The use of military force to annex territory is also an independent basis for existential illegality: also a violation of the international law on the use of force, and so also an aggression at both a state level and in terms of individual criminal responsibility. (By contrast, the prolonged length of the occupation, and its abusive nature, are not independent bases for existential illegality, but are relevant, as aggravating factors, to the question of existential legality as a matter of the law on the use of force; the abusive nature is also relevant to the separate matter of legality/illegality of conduct). Any purported annexations are also without legal effect, because in international law Israel is not and cannot be sovereign over any part of the West Bank or Gaza, including East Jerusalem, through the assertion of a claim to this effect based on the exercise of effective control enabled through the use of force, and in the absence of consent to such annexation freely given by the Palestinian people.
As to the legality/illegality of the conduct of the occupation, there are multiple, egregious breaches of the relevant areas of applicable international law: the laws of war/law of armed conflict/jus in bello/international humanitarian law including occupation law, international human rights law generally, and, within this, the prohibition of racial discrimination generally and the prohibition of apartheid in particular. These are breaches at the level of the state of Israel, and also, in some cases, individual crimes—war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of apartheid and the crime of torture. The occupation is thus illegal in both its existence and its conduct, and in both cases this gives rise to both state and individual criminal responsibility.
(All the main areas of international law violated—the prohibition on the use of force other than in self-defence/the prohibition of aggression; the right of self-determination; the prohibition of racial discrimination generally and apartheid in particular; a sub-set of the protections in IHL; the prohibition of torture—are norms that have the special non-derogable/jus cogens status mentioned above in connection with the Oslo Accords. Jus cogens is not a separate category of substantive international legal rules but is, rather, a way of characterizing certain rules as being of a special character when it comes to their interaction with other rules of international law.)
The official U.S. response to the escalating violence in Palestine and Israel demands condemnation for its clear and obvious attempt to rewrite history. Seen side-by-side, there’s no better example of the U.S. government’s utter failure to be an independent broker of peace in the Middle East.
On January 26, in a Press Statement entitled The Situation in Jenin, the U.S. Department of State spokesman, Ned Price, announced:
“Today in Jenin, at least nine Palestinians, including militants and at least one civilian, were killed and over twenty injured during an Israeli Defense Forces counterterrorism operation against a Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell. We recognize the very real security challenges facing Israel and the Palestinian Authority and condemn terrorist groups planning and carrying out attacks against civilians. We mourn the loss of innocent lives as well as injuries to civilians and are deeply concerned by the cycle of violence in the West Bank. We underscore the urgent need for all parties to de-escalate, prevent further loss of civilian life, and work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank. Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely.”
The following day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, issued a Press Statement entitled Condemning the Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem:
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the horrific terrorist attack that occurred today outside of a synagogue in Jerusalem. We mourn those killed in the attack, and our thoughts are with the injured, including children. The notion of people being targeted as they leave a house of worship is abhorrent. It is particularly tragic that this attack occurred on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On behalf of the United States, I express our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wish those injured a full recovery. We are in close contact with our Israeli partners and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”
The facts must not be recast to support a false narrative.
The Situation in Jenin was initiated by Israel when its leaders sent the military into the crowded Jenin Refugee Camp in the Occupied Palestine Territories. Palestinian fighters responded and the Israeli soldiers killed 9 Palestinians, including a 61-year old woman. Many news outlets are referring to the action as a “raid.” Almog Cohen, a member of the Israeli parliament and “Jewish Power” party, celebrated the operation, tweeting: “Nice and professional work by the fighters in Jenin. Keep killing them.” The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that they were looking for terror suspects connected to the Islamic Jihad. The army confirmed that three of them were “neutralized” during an exchange of gunfire. Sick children in the hospital in Jenin were suffocated when the soldiers fired teargas into the hospital. A 10th Palestinian was shot and killed during a confrontation with Israeli troops in the town of al-Ram, near Jerusalem, as residents protested against the Jenin raid.
“More than 170 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, were killed across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem last year. In January 2023 alone, at least 29 Palestinians including five children have been killed. The UN said that 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006, but 2023 is already on course to surpass that, if the number of deaths stay at the same level, and there is now the potential for a full-scale uprising among Palestinians, particularly in the wake of Israel’s new far-right government, which came into power at the end of December.”
People of conscience must resist attempts to obscure the histories and experiences of oppressed people, including the Palestinians.  One crucial step is to recognize the erasure of context. The U.S. State Department calls Israel’s actions in Jenin “a counterterrorism operation against terrorists,” without a peep about the 1948 Nakba, the decades-long military occupation of Palestine, or the present-day indignities, depravation and brutality which the Palestinians are subjected to by Israel.
Jehad Abusalim writes: “Regimes of oppression work tirelessly to render the historical context of oppressed people irrelevant and obscure. Their final goal is to portray oppressed people and their struggles for reclaiming their rights as irrational and, at worst, reduce them to a threat against those who built their privilege at the expense of others.” 
The U.S. Department of State is erasing the context of the current violence and selectively condemning the violence perpetrated by the Palestinians (the victims of this illegal military occupation) while patting the Israeli government (the occupier) on the back. The U.S. government has demonstrated over the years that it’s incapable of serving as a neutral mediator or power broker in ending Israel’s occupation and bringing peace to all people in Palestine and Israel. I’m writing to President Biden, Secretary Blinken and the New Mexico delegation in Congress and requesting them to (1) enforce the Leahy Act which prohibits the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights; and (2) to formally withdraw from any role in negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
What difference does a rally make? Even a noisy and well-attended rally in mid-town Manhattan where we gathered to protest Israel’s bombardment of Gaza?
Everything is so predictable. The “precision” missiles and airstrikes killing “terrorists” in Gaza along with scores of innocent children. Just witness 2008-09, 2012, 2014, 2021 and now again, the latest operation (Operation Breaking Dawn) began August 5th.
Everything is so predictable. The crude, home-made rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, and Israel’s Iron Dome knocking the vast majority of them out of the sky.
Everything is so predictable. U.S. officials spout the “Israel has a right to defend itself” bullshit to provide an excuse for the inexcusable, and urge both sides to “restore calm” while at the same time arming Israel’s military. A grotesque picture comes to mind — a master telling a slave to lay still and take the abuse and rape calmly.
Everything is so predictable. An army of social media activists frantically try to wake up the world to what’s happening (again) in Gaza with hashtags like “GazaUnderAttack”. Israel has its own social media activists trying to reframe the damaging reality and cleanse Israel’s reputation from all the spilt blood.
Everything is so predictable. I’m debating whether attending another rally is worth my time and effort. It’s hot and humid in NYC. Holding my sign “I stand with Gaza” really makes no difference in the big scheme of things. I write letters to Secretary Blinken, to President Biden, to the local newspaper, but even those small gestures feel so futile.
Then the unpredictable happened!
I arrived at the rally and was handed a picture of Mohammed Salah Naijm, 17 years old, one of 46 Palestinian martyrs, including 16 children since Friday. I don’t know Mohammed or his family but tears welled up and I was filled with grief. A week ago, Mohammed was going through the routine of a difficult life in Gaza with some expectation of a future. Israel took his dreams, his hopes and future away. He had survived each of Israel’s military operations (2008-09, 2012, 2014 and 2021) and likely believed he would survive another.
I held Mohammed’s picture and saw others holding pictures of child victims. At that moment, I realized that I don’t attend these predictable rallies to change the world or to “educate” Americans about our complicity in these atrocities. I don’t attend these rallies to express anger or outrage, although I feel both.
I attend rallies such as this one to stand in solidarity with the victims and their families. To share their grief and to let them know they’re not alone. If I could travel to Gaza and stand with them in person, I would. But my spirit is with them. Today and forevermore.