By Zaha Hassan
Since the horrific killing of well over 1,800 innocents in Gaza began on July 8, demonstrations have been held all over the U.S., including here in Portland.
Why, Bob Horenstein asks, aren’t similar demonstrations organized for civilians killed in other conflict zones? The answer is simple: because we are complicit. It is U.S. political cover and the over $3 billion in military and economic aid we give to Israel every year that has been funding the destruction and genocide taking place in Gaza. In fact, at the same time President Obama was calling for a ceasefire, the U.S. released stockpiles of ammunition to Israel so that it could reload its guns.
So, yes, people of conscience around the country have come out by the hundreds and thousands not just to call for an end to U.S. support for Israel, but also to express our alarm at the way in which Palestinians have been dehumanized. Particularly offensive has been how the otherwise hamstrung U.S. Senate miraculously came together in a matter of hours to unanimously pass a resolution supporting Israel’s “right to defend itself.” Surely killing one child per hour each day is not how a country defends itself.
And it goes almost unnoticed when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, like an awestruck groupie, fails to question Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s use of the term “telegenically dead” to describe those killed in Gaza. And there’s the same network’s Jake Tapper who had the audacity to ask a Palestinian analyst whether hers was a “culture of martyrdom,” a not so oblique way of saying that Palestinians don’t value human life. Or CBS Evening News’ Bob Schieffer, who channeled the racism of Golda Meir by saying that Palestinians are responsible for Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians.
Palestinians want to live free from a state of siege, colonization, occupation and military bombardment. Might that explain, perhaps, Palestinian resistance rather than an insatiable thirst for their own blood?
Newspapers have been no better, reporting the number of Israeli deaths in headlines but using ‘other’ to refer to the overwhelming number of Palestinian dead. Readers are left to wonder whether a Palestinian is a person or some catchall pronoun.
While eight out of 10 Palestinians killed have been civilians, Israeli Ambassador Dermer has argued that the Israeli military deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for its restraint. As legal scholars can tell him, the bombing of civilian homes and infrastructure with F-16s, shooting at those trying to escape and shelling UN schools, hospitals and playgrounds earns Israeli soldiers and their commanders front seats at the Hague, not a Nobel.
And does Secretary of State Kerry really believe that Palestinian deaths are “appropriate and legitimate”? Of course he doesn’t — or at least that is what he says when he thinks his microphone is cold.
Enough with Israel’s campaign to “mow the lawn” in Gaza and the mimicking of this grisly wordplay by politicians and the media. Palestinians are not blades of grass who need to be cut back every few years lest they rise up and demand the rights that have been denied them. This genocide must end.
Zaha Hassan, of Lake Oswego, is a Palestinian-American human rights lawyer and writer, and co-founder of Portland-based Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights.