Tag Archives: genocide

Only “Us”

“We act in Gaza according to our interests.”

“There is no ‘them; there is only ‘us.’”

Two quotes I heard on public radio this morning while driving to my Honolulu Write Team workshop. It’s hard for me to imagine two more contradictory quotes, uttered about two minutes apart and sending my eardrums (and heart) into spasm.

Yes, I will elaborate. That’s why I’m here. I need to elaborate. I HAVE to elaborate—make some ??? of this. (I was going to write the word “sense” there, but I already know—there won’t be any sense to this.)

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It was the on-the-hour news break. Remember? Yesterday, the new Israeli prime minister met with Joe Biden at the White House. The sound bites are about “establishing a personal relationship” and “affirming our common interests.” This morning Israel fired rockets into Gaza. That killed how many innocent, nameless (Who cares?) Palestinians? 

And today as prime minister Bennett was preparing to board his plane, he spoke, “We act in Gaza according to our interests.”

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Before leaving home to attend my Sunday writers’ workshop, I had determined to write a short memoir about Palestinians. I am weeks away from publishing my second book, An American in Palestine. So the topic is in my face—seething inside my heart.

Here were the kernels of thought I had determined to share:

Question to American Jews: So are you comfortable knowing that the millions/billions of dollars contributed by your fellow people are used to commit a new genocide against Israel’s “them?”

Question to American Christiians: So are you even aware that in today’s world, saving the Holy Lands means wiping out and eradicating the “them” of Palestinian blood?

Question to American Democrats: So are we comfortable knowing that our beloved (thank God for Joe!) president is cozying up to Israel’s new mass murderer?

Question to Americans All: So are we sitting cozy with the knowledge that our nation’s #1 recipient of foreign aid is Israel?  That Israel is using OUR money and OUR power and OUR influence to disenfranchise, impoverish, and exterminate an entire people? A people that they (and by association, WE) label the bad “them?”

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A minute after the news played Bennett’s murderous quote on air, “On Being” began a morning interview with Mexican writer, ​​Luis Alberto Urrea. The program opened with a quote by the author, “There is no ‘them;’ there is only ‘us.’”

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…which means that this morning in Israel/ Gaza, WE lobbed bombs into Gaza, killing OURSELVES. If there’s only “us,” then we committed murder and were murdered today in Gaza. Happy Sunday worship, America. Happy Sunday cruise/ picnic/ baseball/ mall shopping/ couch potatoing, America.

My dark side, yes. I’m pissed. At the same time, I embrace Urrea’s impassioned wish that “it really could be.” I’m gonna play John Lennon’s “Imagine” now. Be well, my friends.

Who are Palestinians?

When we Americans hear the word “Palestinian,” what thoughts come to mind?

I can offer an answer from my own mind. Before 2013, if someone said to me, “This Palesinian guy was killed in Gaza today.” Well, I immediately thought…

Terrorist

Suicide bomber

Dangerous

Misogynist men, submissive women.

Dark, hairy, smelly

A person to avoid

I am pretty certain that stereotype describes a majority opinion of Americans today.

In 2013 and 2014, I had a rare and clandestine opportunity to experience two visits to the West Bank, Palestine. During my extended three-month stay in Bait Laim (Bethlehem,) I spent time and enjoyed the company of two Palestinian families. Renting a small apartment in the ground floor of the home of a three-generation Christian family, I observed daily family life up close. Through my “sponsor,” I joined a Muslim family each week on Holy Day (Friday) for extended family gathering, meal, and social time.

My visits profoundly impacted my world view. When I returned to Hawaii in late 2014, I was simmering with thoughts and emotions that I wished to share. These people and their plight needed advocates. Living in abhorrent conditions, Palestinians are being subjected to a social and cultural genocide. But how could I speak? I had no platform and I lacked an audience.

Today, May 17, 2021, I have opened a new Facebook page to promote my new venture as an author of literary non-fiction. Okay, my platform is largely undiscovered. I can count my audience on my ten fingers and ten toes. But I do have stories to share.

On MSNBC today, I heard Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib comment about the distorted view that Americans have of Palestinians. She lamented that Americans don’t hear the common, personal stories of Palestinian people.

Working on my Hawaiian quilt as I listened to Congresswoman Tlaib, I realized, “Hey! I can tell those kind of stories.”

So I will do so. I don’t have stories of assassination and murder and genocide (though all of those are happening with alarming recurrence.) I have personal and intimate stories of a people, whose lives are so human and poignant. When we experience these kinds of stories, things change.

Today, when you ask me what I think when someone tells me, “This Palestinian guy was killed in Gaza today.” Here are the reactions I have to accompany the tears that well in my eyes:

Human

Loving

Family oriented

Speaking in a language I don’t understand that translates in its universal human emotion.

Handsome boys who love to play

Girls shy in public but affirmative and determined in career and social responsibility.

A people so resilient you cannot help but be inspired in their presence.

Warm and hospitable hosts of a stranger

What do you say? Let’s share some Palestinian stories.