Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog # 35 Final blog for June 2014 HAHRP trip July 7, 2014 Footnote

Final blog for June 2014 HAHRP trip

Blog # 35 July 7, 2014


I have been home almost a week, my brain is nearly in Eastern Standard Time though my nights are filled with hours of anxiety and wakefulness, and I am indulging in my usual addiction to the news, mainstream and otherwise. Commenters talk about the current upsurge in violence “after a period of relative calm,” clearly they have not been paying much attention, have they? The American citizen who was brutally beaten by Israeli security is under house arrest (for what exactly?) and a reporter uses the expression, “apparent excessive use of force” by the Israelis.  Has he seen the videos proliferating on the internet, they are not that subtle. On NPR, some talking head reports on the lack of progress between “the two governments, Israel and Palestine,” as if we are talking about two equal states that just need to calm their extremists down and settle their squabbles.  The horrific murder of the three settler boys from Hebron is mentioned without context; there is apparently no ugly occupation, no crushing siege of Gaza, no angry extremists that even Hamas may not be able to control anymore, no regular Israeli incursions, arrests, murders, home demolitions, no fanatic, racist Jews screaming “Death to the Arabs.” Liberal Israeli Jews may squirm and condemn their fascistic xenophobic brethren, but these folks have been allowed to flourish under every government and in fact, I fear, are the product of a country that has taken Zionism and Jewish exceptionalism and privilege way beyond the boundaries of human conscience.

Interestingly, Netanyahu sent a condolence call to the dead Palestinian child’s family, but as we know, he does not have a good track record when it comes to justice. I think for the first time in my life, I read a report in the “Boston Globe” that actually uses the words attributed to the Israel defense minister to describe the revenge killers who burned Mohammed Abu Khdeir to death as “Jewish terrorists.” His cousin, Tariq Abu Khder, visiting from Tampa, is in the news a lot. It seems that beating a Palestinian with American citizenship is hard to hide. But, course, then there was Rachel Corrie.  Forgive my cynicism.

I stop by a local liquor store that is owned by a Palestinian family from Taybeh, just to say hello, to express some sympathy, when a customer with red hair and an Irish face overhears the conversation and remarks, “Wow. You’ve been there!” He asks where the Palestinian owner is from, and the guy says vaguely, a small village near Jerusalem.  Obviously being Palestinian from the occupied territories may not be good for business in Brookline. The customer’s face lights up and he says, “You guys sure make great music.” It takes me a moment to realize that he thinks this little village is in Israel, probably does not even know that there is a place called Palestine, and is basically clueless.  When he leaves, we restart our conversation about “extremists on all sides” and the possibility that this is the beginning of the Third Intifada.

One of the medical students on the exchange program from Al Quds University is staying with me while doing rotations at a variety of Harvard hospitals (and fasting all day for Ramadan). He loves to walk and explore the neighborhoods, has already joined a gym, and is very focused on shopping; he has a long list of relatives and needs a gift for each of them from the great bastion of capitalism and discount outlet stores. He was at the hospital when a (presumably highly educated) resident said, “We have some other students from Israel.” He calmly replied, “I am from Palestine.” He met the Israelis and reassures me, “They are OK.”

Meanwhile, all the parties are behaving according to the script. Israeli forces are attacking Gaza, militants are shelling Sderot, Palestinian youth are rioting in East Jerusalem and Hebron, Jewish gangs are causing havoc. The unity government between Fatah and Hamas is just about dead and the Palestinian Authority, which most often works in collaboration with the Israeli occupation forces, is its’ usual less than productive self. Israel remains a powerful, energetic, gorgeous, ugly, profoundly racist state and American Jews mostly line up to support “our homeland.” I note that several major temples in the Boston area are sponsoring memorial services for the dead “Yeshivabochas” and I wonder, when will we have the decency and wisdom to mourn for all of our children and the political will to stop the uncritical support of Israeli policy and the blindness to the suffering, resistance, and resilience of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.   All of our futures depend on this.


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