For those who have come to love the people of the Middle East these are truly sad days. It is not war that we are witnesses to; it is carnage. But, worse than that–far, far worse–is that the continuing tragedy likely tolls the death knell for a dream of two states–Palestine and Israel–co-existing in mutual commerce and intertwined security.
Russell O. Siler, Retired
News – HCEF
I am very sad that hundreds and thousands of people who are trapped in Gaza as they have been for 61 years have nowhere else to flee or hide.[Most of the people in Gaza are refugees and their families who were driven from their homes by the pre-state and the national military forces of the new state of Israel in 1948.] My even greater sadness is that my beloved country is standing idly by, offering its blessing to the killing. I am sad that the leaders of Hamas have concluded that they have no other way to plead their case for freedom to the world and to draw the eyes of the West to their confinement than to rain down a stream of rarely accurate missiles and rockets upon the people of southern Israel. I am sad that Israeli candidates for high office believe they have to prove their strength by devastating the most densely populated segment of land in the world. They have already starved the people of Gaza near to death for the last two years and deprived them of fuel and medicine and machine parts so that they are no longer able to operate their clean water pumps and their sewage pumps, or just about any other segment of their infrastructure for that matter.
Perhaps my deepest sadness is that my government–both the Congress and the Administration–the Israeli government, and much of the western media have apparently decided that we people cannot be trusted with all the relevant information about the war. It is as if they know with certainty that we will neither condone the rockets from Gaza nor the continuing Israeli invasion if we have a firm grasp on the relevant facts. And so they give us only that which will elicit sympathy and support for their point of view and their actions. For example, on January 2, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote “Israel has but a single objective in Gaza–peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. He then goes on to tell us that “…the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.” He goes on to aver that the Palestinians squandered absolutely this grand opportunity, turning instead to war and terror. Somehow Mr. Krauthammer “forgot” to tell his readers about the Israeli impoundment of Palestinian tax dollars needed to pay teachers, doctors, and police officers which forced all of Gaza and the West Bank to beg funds from the rest of the world just to get by. Those monies may have helped if the United States had not joined Israel in persuading much of the world that they should not help, even with medical care, development, and education. Nor does Mr. Krauthammer inform his readers that Israel gave absolutely no sovereignty to Gaza, but instead imposed a barricade around it which prevented Gazan fishermen from plying their trade in the Mediterranean. He did not tell you of the thousands of tons of produce–formerly one of the Gazans’ chief exports–which rotted in roadside ditches because Israel refused to allow them to market. In sum, he failed to describe the open-air prison that Israel had created for 1.5 million people. I can only assume that he knew that if he told us the whole story we might reach other conclusions than the one he had in mind. Unfortunately, he can take such liberties with truth, because so many of us in this country either don’t care or think we are too busy to dig out the rest of the story. So the fabrication enters the culture clothed as righteous indignation, and soon it nestles in the bosom of “that which we know.”
Do not misread me! I shudder with the people of Sderot and Ashkelon when the 15-second siren sounds, warning of an incoming round which may hit home, school, or synagogue. But I also grieve with the people of Rafah and Gaza City as they look in panic through grief-streaked eyes for the safe place that is not there. Both should be screaming at their leaders to end the killing while there are still some of their number left to mourn the dead.
Then you and I should scream to our leaders to tell us the whole truth. We will then decide how we must act. I still have faith and confidence in the people here that, moved and guided by our religious and humanitarian values, we will demand an end to both the bloodshed and the duplicity. More than ever we are needed to set a higher standard than we have become accustomed to for our dealings with the rest of the world–a standard which is firmly rooted in the truth, not loosely potted in the soil of short-sighted self-interest.
But this will not come to pass unless and until we together raise our voices in a chorus for justice.
Russell O. Siler, Retired