Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's Not Ours to Destroy

In light of the on-going misinformation emanating from the Middle East, I implore you to find information and evidence contradicting prevailing attitudes towards this crisis that exists in abundance, but that is almost completely ignored by our media. If one were to watch any of our major news networks ranging from Fox News to CNN, one would get the impression that Israel is defending itself. This is a very convenient misimpression for the Israeli, U.S. and British governments. On the other hand, this is most inconvenient if one is Lebanese or Palestinian. The asymmetry of death and destruction in the region (“
More than 200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 24 Israelis have been killed in the fighting”/ “Lebanese civilians are being killed by savage aerial bombardment from at least 2,000 sorties by Israeli war planes.”) is strangely analogous to the asymmetry of media coverage. No one seems to be reporting anything but politically deterministic positions. Politicians, right in step with the media, are also clamoring for solidarity with Israel, including Senators Joe Biden and Hilary Clinton…solidarity with a country that is raining down hell and fury on the innocent people of Palestine and in Lebanon with complete impunity.

A small amount of research would yield far different results and explain why the international community is condemning the actions of Israel. Perhaps by learning that this most recent phase was actually begun around the beginning of June as Israelis fired missiles and killed 9 Palestinians in Gaza, or perhaps we should know that an Israeli soldier was “captured” (not “kidnapped”) in response to an actual “kidnapping” of a doctor and his son by Israeli soldiers on June 24. The reporting on the “capture” of Corporal Gilad Shalit is well reported and therefore stirring sympathy. Conveniently, or inconveniently depending on one’s point of view, the “kidnapping” of the doctor and his son is unreported. This “kidnapping,” after all is a war crime, as is the killing of the 9 Palestinians back in beginning of June. Conveniently then—for the Israeli government—no one cares to report on these crimes. Just like no one wants to—or perhaps, is “allowed to”—report on the actual chain of events and extremely disproportional “response” by Israel against Lebanon.

So please, don’t allow the media to shape your opinion. As Americans we are funding these tragic deaths (there is no such thing as an “Israeli gunship”, MADE IN USA!). We owe it to the innocent/non-collateral victims of violent self-proclaimed masters throughout the world to stop this killing machine. We must remember a truism, which is that we must first concern ourselves with our own crimes. We can and must stop our government from funding this tragedy. We must denounce the media for its role in this crime. Be brave to speak the truth, even with loved ones, as there are definitely healthy and positive ways to speak to ill-conceived notions. Remind our friends and family that America is not the world and that there must be resounding reasons why the U.S., Israel, Marshall Islands and Britain vote alone on U.N. resolutions that pass unanimously each year (170 to 4) condemning Israeli behavior in the region, or condemning U.S. behavior towards Cuba (171 to 3, as even Britain disdains the Cuban Embargo).

In a world of diminishing safety and security (due to our own actions), we grow reactive and reactionary. Our choices as consumers, our pursuit of convenience and wealth, our choices…our choices… What kind of thought goes into our choices? One American Indian perspective that I shared with my students this year was that we are borrowing our world from our grandchildren and great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren ad infinitum. Well, I’ve tried to make up an analogy of loaning someone something you covet only to have it returned destroyed and useless, but there is nothing that can compare to the precious gift that is Mother Earth and human life. Words fail to describe the power of the choices we are making for future generations. We must act now to stop war everywhere. We must stop our government from selling arms and ammunition to foreign governments. We must disarm our own country immediately. We must remove the capacity of destruction from human hands and we must start with our own. We must also act today to end our assault on Mother Earth. Today, I ride my bike. Tomorrow, I walk.