Saturday, January 03, 2009,3:31 am
As the World Burns

Today, as we live and breathe and carry on with our lives, 450 people and counting lie dead from one of the worst direct Israeli attacks ever perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

As we sign on to news sites and tune in to the latest broadcasts, in the pursuit of the guilty we are invariably met with mentions of beginnings and firsts, as is the custom whenever a conflict occurs. We see it in children- "she started it!"- and we see it in politics, especially from the current mouthpieces at the White House. We see journalists raving about how the *beginning* of the current conflict was the incessant launching of rockets into Israel by Hamas, how that was the *first* breach of the peacefire and thus justified Israel's atrocious response. If I had the patience to play it their way, I might inquire about the *beginning* of the viral poverty that has driven 1 in 2 of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants below the poverty line. I might then inquire about what *begins* to happen to the psychology of an oppressed people as they are forced to watch their loved ones perish for lack of food, sanitation, and medical care, and then wonder how the deprivation of these most essential needs could possibly never have crossed anyone's mind as the *first* violation of a supposed peace.

In light of my personal political views, if you want to get right down to it, this cannot be a question of who threw the first stone because stones and physical weaponries are not the only, or the worst, mediums of warfare. It should be a question of who made the man so desperate and hungry and so deprived of every essential human necessity that he was driven to throw it... of who walled up 1.5 million human beings Warsaw Ghetto-style and refused to even allow food from international aid organizations to be distributed to the 1 in 2 human beings living in abject poverty, and how such circumstances could have ever been considered meeting the conditions of a 'PEACEfire'. I don't know any human being whose idea of peace constitutes watching your children teeter on the brink of starvation or living in deplorable filth and unchecked sewage that fosters the spread of communicable diseases for the prevention of which no medical resources exist or are allowed in.

I began this piece talking about the media and general public's fascination with beginnings. So I know that even though the aforementioned conditions in Gaza will sound absolutely horrendous and deplorable to all who read about them, there are still going to be those hesitant to shed a sympathetic tear or call into question the brutal forces that allowed these atrocities to persist. Because there will be people wondering- whether subconsciously or blatantly- what the Palestinians must have done *first* in order to garner such inhumane treatment as the harsh blockade, because surely, were it undeserved, it would not be happening.

So I'll address that question. What malicious crime did the Palestinians commit?
Well they had the glaring audacity to uh... exercise their democratic right to vote.
They had the guts to choose the people they knew would stave off the corruption that consumed their opposition, who would refuse to barter the interests of the Palestinian people. But in the eyes of Israel and the United States, who actually gave weapons and money to Hamas's opposition to keep the *democratically-elected* group out of power and murder its key leaders, they made the wrong choice.

As I conclude, I am not saying that this objectively justifies Hamas's rocket attacks so finitely that I expect any rational being who doesn't have my political and humanistic biases to agree on. But I would most definitely expect any rational being to be appalled at 400+ deaths in repayment for fewer than five.

Right now, as I pray with millions of peace-loving human beings around the world for an end to the unimaginable suffering in the Gaza Strip, I want to remind people that at this moment, this isn't primarily an issue of politics, of whose land is what, of who started it all, or who's been right all along, this is an issue of an unjustifiably disproportionate military response leading to the slaughter of over 400 human beings- at least a fourth of them civilians, over 50 of them children, and more wounded than all the area's hospitals can even begin to accommodate. It's an issue of a four year old child whose playtime in his home's courtyard turned in to the hour of his death, of a mother beholding the corpses of her five dead daughters.

So as the world burns, won't you weep a few tears and douse the flames?
posted by R
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