Never has the need for Peace on Earth been more acute than now, in December 2023. I sat down to write my Winter Solstice letter, but the following thoughts came out instead. Fortunately, I still have a time before “the longest night” to get my winter missive done.
I met my first Palestinians when I was a college freshman attending a National Education Association convention in 1968. These young men told the story of their family homes being bulldozed by Israeli Defense Forces. When their families rebuilt, the houses were destroyed again and they were forced to become refugees.
Fast forward to March 2003, when I had my first (photographic) sighting of IDF D9 armored bulldozers (American-made by Caterpillar) as they transformed Palestinian neighborhoods into what looked like open-sided doll houses, their walls scraped away, furniture and belongings strewed willy-nilly. Often there were nasty epithets in Hebrew scrawled on the ruins. Rachel Corrie, an activist raised in Olympia, Washington, and a member of the International Solidarity Movement, was 23 years old that year when she was crushed to death by one of these behemoth machines. Rachel was on a mission to protect a home in the West Bank town of Rafah from destruction. Like almost every attempt to hold Israel responsible for the deaths of Palestinian defenders, including many journalists, medics, and non-violent marchers (see the Gaza border protests in 2018-2019), the courts did not find the government responsible.
I have been following the Israel/Palestine issue for much of my adult life. I hosted film screenings in my home during some of the four previous “mowing the lawn” bombings of Gaza by Israel: in 2008-9 (23 days); in 2012 (8 days); in 2014 (50 days); in 2021 (11 days). The top three of these documentaries are Occupation 101, Roadmap to Apartheid and The Occupation of the American Mind.
The latter film is narrated by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and produced by The Media Education Foundation. It explains Israel’s other war, the public relations war even now being successfully waged to counter its transgressions of international law and justify its actions in the eyes of the world. (These violations include building settlements in occupied territories; an apartheid social and political system; and most horrendous, using denial of food, water, shelter, medicine as a weapon of war in the past and present blockade of Gaza.)
This PR campaign may explain some of your own opinions, and the demonstrable values of the Netanyahu-hugging Joe Biden.
I do not know the U.S. President’s heart, but I do know his actions are a disgrace in light of—to date—nearly 19,000 dead in Gaza (more than half of them children and not including violence in the West Bank at the hands of armed settlers), tens of thousands injured, unknown numbers buried under rubble and now a million and a half internally displaced individual, who cannot flee because of closed borders.
Biden asks of (not demands from) Israel, and in spite of no response, he sends more tank shells, sidestepping the usual Congressional channels and ignoring laws that forbid the U.S. from providing weapons used to commit genocide.
Our local newspaper, The Press Democrat, printed my “Cease Fire” letter to the editor even though they removed my emphasis on the FACT OF ISRAELI OCCUPATION which is the biggest reason for Palestinian resistance and the popularity of Hamas. According to the Associated Press (December 15, 2023), a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 44% of respondents in the occupied West Bank said they supported Hamas, up from 12% in September. In Gaza, the militants enjoyed 42 percent support, up from 38 percent three months ago. According to this current Guardian article, the support is far higher as a result of the death and devastation being wrought by Israel’s revenge.