The people of a country don’t make foreign policy. As you and I can attest, we didn’t authorize our leaders to wage war in Iraq or Afghanistan. On the contrary, we were outspoken critics of both invasions.
We are rarely on the side of our elected officials on economic policy either. We didn’t have a say in the deregulation of our financial institutions or in the subsequent bailouts that rescued them. In fact, you and I have enjoyed a long, unsuccessful history of attacking the windmills of our government over a variety of issues. We have fought the false premise of war and have championed the rights of people, all people.
So it is with dismay I find myself standing alone on the issue of Gaza.
The people of Gaza are being decimated and they are powerless to do anything about it. Do we ultimately hold them responsible for the actions of their leaders? Given our ineffective attempts at altering the actions of our government I can’t imagine how they will defy theirs. In a struggle of a thousand years, the current people of Gaza were born into their plight.
The governments of Israel and the United States have condemned all people of Palestine to live in the shadow of brutality with a nonexistent future. We Americans have been complicity silent. The industries of war reap huge profits from the sustained nature of the conflict and they have hijacked history to convince reasonable people of its inevitable and noble cause. But, there is nothing noble in the relentless subjugation of innocent people.
When power is so overwhelmingly one-sided, when our planes, tanks, ships and helicopters operate with absolute impunity, when hand held rockets and suicide belts are the apex of our enemy’s military capacity, when our sanctions and blockades have reduced a desperate people to living a repulsive existence …its time to stop, we’ve won.
The punishment of the people of Gaza is not defense. It is not a fight for Israel’s right to exist and it is not the unfortunate byproduct of failed negotiations. For a negotiation between a mouse and lion is an illusion put forth by the lion. Peace is for Israel alone to make.
People can not be bombed into submission and fences will never be built high enough to prevent every individual act of terror. Redefining victory into an unattainable concept forever outside our grasp condemns us to perpetual war. Worse, it robs us of our humanity.
Just before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. gave the speech “Beyond Vietnam”. In it he connected racism and poverty in America to the conflict in Vietnam. A war he described as “a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit”. He recognized that our corrupted economic system was the greatest purveyor of violence and instability in the world and that until we fight to lift all people from the policies of poverty and oppression there will be peace for no one.
Although I hold muted optimism of our prospects to influence the outcome of events, I know silence holds none.