By Sherri Muzher
For years now, I have heard demands that those of us Americans and of Palestinian descent condemn various military actions. And we do because innocents should never pay for the sins of their military forces and government.
I’d like to know if the Jewish community will ever condemn the intentional starvation and collective punishment of an entire Gazan population?
The silence has been deafening at this inhumanity.
I’ve heard that Palestinians have invited these brutal measures after they elected Hamas during internationally-observed elections, since Hamas refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Setting aside that the elections were about corruption, Palestinians said nothing when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert invited Avigdor Leiberman to his cabinet. Leiberman, once praised by Jewish extremists for supporting the deportation of Palestinians inside Israel, is known as an avid racist.
There were no condemnations from the American Jewish community about this repulsive appointment despite their long history of persecution.
I’ve also heard that 1.5 million Palestinians are to be collectively punished for the acts of a few militants firing homemade rocket into Sderot. If our government believed that, all of us Michiganians would have been punished for the indirect role of the Michigan Militia during the Oklahoma City bombing in1995. But that is not what America stands for. People are not expected to pay for the acts of others.
What does the American Jewish community believe?
In February 22, 2006, Israel’s Gideon Levy of Haaretz reported on a disturbing story, “ Everyone agreed on the need to impose an economic siege on the Palestinian Authority, and Weissglas, as usual, provided the punch line: "It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die," the advisor joked, and the participants reportedly rolled with laughter.”
That’s supposed to be funny?
And now nearly two years later, their “joke” has become a tragic reality with tens of thousands of Palestinians having to forcibly destroy parts of a wall to stream into Egypt to get food, fuel, and other necessities.
Where was the American Jewish condemnation for this siege?
When Israel prevents Palestinians from getting vital medical care and preventing dozens of Palestinian university students from returning to their studies in Europe., where are the condemnations from the American Jewish community?
When Gazan children go to school hungry and unable to concentrate, where are the American Jewish condemnations?
According to the Defense for Children International (DCI), there were 385 children doing time in Israeli prisons as of July, 2007.
The DCI also notes that, “amongst the denial of many other fundamental rights, children do not have the right to a parent, a responsible adult or a lawyer to be present during the interrogation process. On average, Palestinian children are detained before being taken to court from between 8 and 21 days. As with adults, under Military Order 378, a child can be detained and interrogated for up to 90 days without charge.”
Where are the American Jewish condemnations?
The list of human rights violations go on and on, whether they are noted by Amnesty International or Israel’s own B’tselem. And with so many people having access to information on the internet, there is little excuse to be unfamiliar with at least some of the eye-opening tragedies on the ground.
It’s important to point out that The Israeli Coalition Against the Siege at least attempted to send a protest convoy to the Gaza border, on January 26, in coordination with the Palestinian Coalition. Parallel actions inside Gaza and in Ramallah, demanding a complete end to the blockade of Gaza, will also take place.
Thankfully, there is more coordination between Palestinians and Israelis abroad. Rarely, here in the States.
I am often reminded of a conversation I observed between an Israeli and American Jew years ago. The American Jew had expressed incredulity that another Israeli in the forum did something not particularly upstanding. The Israeli person responded that “We’re human. We have bad people, too.”
I left the forum a short while later but the conversation stayed with me.
I was appreciative that the Israeli was more realistic about humanity and utterly disappointed in the star-struck tone of the American Jew.
If peace is ever going to prevail, American Jews are going to have to look honestly at the realities on the ground and start speaking up.
Staying silent while children starve from an Israeli siege can only be interpreted as approval.
Is that the message we’re supposed to get?
-Sherri Muzher is the director of Michigan Media Watch.