GAZA: Grief, Horror, Outrage, Remembering
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 21 May 2018
15 May 2018
How can one not feel intense grief for the young Palestinians who out of despair and fury joined the Great March of Return, and so often found death and severe injury awaiting them as they approached the border unarmed!!?
This was not a gratuitous event, or something that happened spontaneously on either side. After 70 years of Palestinian suffering, with no end of torment in sight, to show the world and each other their passion was what would be seen as normal, even admirable, demonstrating a spirit of resistance that endured after decades of repression, violence, humiliation, and denial of the most fundamental of rights. After 70 years of Israeli statehood, this violent confirmation of our worst fears and perceptions, seals a negative destiny for Israel as far as the moral eye can see.
When exposed to such visual images of resistance and sniper violence the scene expresses the horror of burning steel rubbing against raw flesh. There is no way to grasp this particular cartography of risk, vulnerability, and security than to have recourse the language and imagery of horror. Such a sad narrative of horror will linger on both sides to haunt both collective and individual memories, but one with tragic pride, the other with repressed shame.
The horror was magnified by coinciding with obscene celebratory events in Jerusalem where Americans representing the Trump presidency, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and the American Ambassador, David Friedman, brought infamy to the United States by this unseemly display of indifference to crimes against humanity being unabashedly committed as they spoke. Such moral and political insensitivity will not and should not be forgotten.
Words are all we have, but they will do. As Thomas Merton taught some crimes are situated in the domain of the unspeakable.
The occasions for outrage about the treatment of the Palestinian people are many, but the Israeli reaction to this Palestinian march reaches a new level of moral, political, and legal wretchedness. It recalls the cry of religious leaders of conscience in the last stage of the Vietnam War, expressed by their dutiful compilation of criminal acts of American violence committed in relatively defenseless Vietnam bearing the telling title—NOT IN OUR NAME.
As Jews, as Americans, as human beings, isn’t it about time to take a similar stand, and at least create symbolic distance between the perpetrators of these crimes and ourselves?
The feeble Israeli claims of its right of self-defense or attributing Palestinian martyrdom to Hamas are as shallow and lacking in credibility as to discredit further rather than provide justifications for this exhibition of homicidal violence on a massive scale not as isolated incident but as a series of arrogant reenactments.
Not with words or argument, but with tears; but tears will not do.
Certainly as the Martyrdom of Gaza, and quite possibly seen as a kind of silent bonding by the Palestinian people with the African victims of the Sharpeville Massacre (1960) or the civil rights marchers at Selma (1965) but far worse!
From this darkness will come an as yet undisclosed inspiration.
Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, author, co-author or editor of 40 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).
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