Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Between the Lines

The situation here is very dire, and highly volatile. It’s not difficult to understand why Israelis feel so threatened, but it doesn’t justify their territorial ambitions and human rights violations. They have subjugated an entire nation and are deceitfully making life unpleasant for Palestinians in hopes that they will leave. It is so shamefully aggressive, it makes my heart heavy to know that my people are capable of such acts.

At the same time however, I think I have learned many important lessons about the system of oppression. I think before I had wondered in disbelief, I had separated myself from bigotry and racism, how could any group of people allow themselves to be duped into not knowing about the atrocities that their country was actively committing? How could the German people not have known? We are all creatures of context, we commit evil acts but with very few exceptions, we ourselves are not evil. There are the few who control the movements and means of violence, and the rest are just kids who have little to no choice in what they do. They have been allowed to function only within a narrowly defined parameter, and for them the world is an incredibly hostile and threatening place. They are in constant fear for their lives. And it is a fear that follows a people well until the violence has passed. As one of my friends from my group wrote, there is this mentality: “We are all alone, and they are trying to kill us.”

The only thing to fear is fear itself. If people would arm themselves with loaves of bread and books rather than guns and bombs our world would be an entirely different place. I am more a believer in non-violence than ever before. Unfortunately, there is now an almost 60 year-old culture of violence here, and the Palestinians are the ones serving an inhumane, disproportionate, abusive and cruel punishment for Arab aggressions. It’s not right, but what has now spiraled horribly out of control, has been defined by escalated tensions and violence on both sides. We as outsiders are responsible not only for countering the draconian military rule of the Israeli occupation, we must encourage non-violence on both sides of the struggle.

We must also begin to examine what the United States is doing in Iraq. It is much the same. We have incited violence. We are acting with impunity. Our young boys are over there, scared out of their minds, not really knowing what they are fighting for, and you better believe they shoot everything that flinches. Our country is responsible for the subjugation of that entire nation, which has left public infrastructure in shambles, destroyed hospitals, schools, natural beauty, ancient architecture, and the lives of children who will grow up to hate us because we stole their childhoods. We imprison and murder their brothers, fathers, sisters, and daughters, we torture and humiliate them, and in the United States George Bush tells us we are bringing freedom to the Iraqi people. With the current US strategy for Iraq, when the US leaves, whether that’s in 2 years or 10, that country will descend into a bloody and cruel civil war. Unless we miraculously stop bombing, and start building schools and homes, and libraries, and water treatment facilities, we will leave behind a trail of oppression. Mark my words.

"Democracy" and "freedom" are words our government, academic institutions and media throw around as if they were clearly defined variables in some sore of mathematical equation for effective nation building. Ask yourself these questions: Democracy for whom? Freedom for whom? Because if we are only serving a particular sector of the national constituency, or a part of the world population, and providing a disservice to the rest... well, then what good is it?


Anonymous Milwaukee said...

Your observations continue to be insightful but I would encourage to resort to specific incidents, experiences, anecdotes. They are the most telling. People you meet and interact with, experiences in which you are a participant.

Your insights are devastating and terribly disillusioning.We need to be sure of the underpinning.

11:31 PM  

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