Our Gift of Silence

By Ahmed Barqawi

The lack of subtlety in Israel’s policy of aggression and land theft towards the Palestinians can only be attributed to our gift of silence, one for which the Israelis’ are appreciative and fully exploitive of. 

AFP -Agence France-Presse- reported last Monday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had sent a letter to the family of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit on the occasion of the soldier’s twenty-third birthday which coincided late last month.

In his letter; Sarkozy vowed France’s relentless efforts for the freedom of the Shalits’ son, expressing that his thoughts are with them and their son especially on his fourth birthday spent in captivity.

How heartwarming it must be for Gilad’s parents, Aviva and Noam, to have on their side the unyielding support of the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world today, the chief resident of the Elysse palace himself, one can imagine the sort of comfort and consolation that they feel to have renowned world leaders carrying their son’s "cause" around, campaigning for it on every possible international platform that there is, and why won’t they feel that way; their son garners a great deal of media attention (including Arabic ones), receiving honorary citizenships left and right from the cities of Paris, Rome and Miami, and his “problem” is actually talked about and discussed incessantly in the same hallways and corridors that hold talks of major international issues like the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

Candle vigils are held for him all over the world, gatherings are routinely organized in Israel and in various parts of Europe, and extensive diplomatic efforts are tirelessly exerted all the time to figure out a way to bring one Israeli soldier back to his home (read military base) safe and sound notwithstanding the fact that he was captured during a hostile military operation, fully outfitted with his military uniform and artillery; and chances are had he not been captured; he would’ve probably been facing charges of war crimes right about now for shelling white phosphorous on civilian targets in Gaza.

And given all of that; you’d think with more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails including a number of elected members of parliament; several confirmed cases of torture, psychological abuse (and evidently organ theft) of adult as well as underage Palestinian detainees not to mention 1.5 million imprisoned in the huge solitary confinement that is Gaza with no food, proper medical care or in many cases; with no roofs on top of their heads; you’d think the whole world should be on fire; outraged and mobilized on all levels –political as well as civil- towards salvaging the waning remains of human rights and civil liberties in the occupied territories; but alas we stand in silence; turning our heads the other way as if everything there is as it should be and going according to the plan.

Does Gilad Shalit’s case seriously symbolize the absolute worst of the worst cases of injustice to befallen upon a human being and for which world leaders should reserve their compassion and concern?

Nonetheless, Sarkozy’s stance towards resolving Shalit’s issue is in a way quiet understandable; after all Gilad Shalit is a French citizen; but what’s not comprehensible and even inexcusable; is the ruthless indifference that Arab regimes patently and systematically practice towards the plight of Palestinian people; our rich oil producers are conveniently sidetracked with bailing out western economies (and they’re always  dependable when it comes to that); while other countries are too busy supplying  ridiculously exorbitant amounts of Gas to Tel Aviv; and for the Palestinians what do we have? Aid conferences of course to pacify the public with, the last of which was in Sharm Al-Shaikh following the catastrophic outcome of the December/January Operation Cast Lead in Gaza; and now five months later; we know for a fact that it was as much of a frivolous conference as it was deceitful, it merely acted as a band-aid for a fatal bullet wound, and I am mystified that some of these very same regimes even seem to think a "band-aid" is always more than enough when it comes to Palestine.

How completely desensitized and uncaring we have become to the sheer horrors the Palestinians face each and every day in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, the whole world literally sat and watched ever so idly -in the comfort of its own double standards- how two Palestinian families were forcibly driven out of their houses at gunpoint in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood in Jerusalem and into the streets in some sort of a public display of Israel’s colonialist agenda and expansionism policies notoriously for all the world to see.

And to that end; early last month; a group of cyclists were banned by Egyptian authorities from crossing the Rafah border into the Gaza Strip after what certainly has been a physically excruciating journey biking all the way from Ireland, these cyclists subjected their bodies to tremendous pain for a good cause in solidarity with Palestinians just for Egyptian authorities to dismiss their honorable mission on a whim without even the courtesy of a logical explanationg, and did that even make the news? Of course it didn’t.

It seems that we have caved in to the indoctrination of the mainstream media when we’d only have the briefest of moments to sympathize before that now famous and fleeting timeline for our sympathy ends turning it into complete apathy and disregard for a continuous human tragedy that’s only worsening by the minute especially in Gaza; and most of us –as human beings- do not even realize that in doing so we immediately become a huge part of their incalculable measure of suffering, loss and daily torment, let’s face it; we do inhabit an informative and over-communicative world today; thus our silence can only be construed as either consent or lack of interest, and I don’t know which is worse.

The fact that we stand hushed and lulled is an overpowering indictment of our selves and it’s simply inhumane; that is why we don’t just owe it to the Palestinians -for whom we are certainly duty-bound to support-; but most importantly we owe it to our own moral integrity which constitutes the backbone of our humanity, but now and thanks to a methodical and well-organized indoctrination by the mainstream media, our moral integrity is thinning and it’s thinning fast and lest we shake the cobwebs of fear and ignorance off of our eyes and rise to the challenge, our own sense of humanity will completely erode soon, possibly even before Shalit’s next birthday. 

 – Ahmad Barqawi is a Jordanian freelance columnist & writer based in Amman. He has done several studies, statistical analysis and research on economic and social development in Jordan. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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