We’re witnessing events that when recorded in history could be considered another sequel to the Old Testament. It’s got the same main characters—the children of Israel—and the same setting—a small area of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. And for the most part, the plot is the same. In the original, the Israelies migrate to Palestine after brutal enslavement by the Egyptians. In the sequel, the Nazis play the role of the Egyptians as the Israelies migrate back to Palestine after the brutality of the Holocaust. And in the role of Yahweh—the world’s most powerful force who promises Israel that land and offers them protection and victory over their enemies—is the United States. The only key difference between the original story and the sequel is that unlike Yahweh, the United States would never punish Israel for any wrongdoing, and whereas in the original Israel was clearly subservient to Yahweh, in the sequel it’s the United States that has become subservient to Israel.
Israel has basically imprisoned millions of Palestinians in the Gaza strip and deprived them of everything short of the most basic necessities for survival—and barely even enough for that. When a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid bound for Gaza was stopped by the Israeli blockade this past Monday, their ship was boarded and many of the activists were killed, including one American citizen. To be fair, the activists did resist the Israeli Defense Forces with the weapons they had at their disposal—rocks and sticks—so the retaliation on the part of the IDF with the weapons at their disposal—guns—wasn’t entirely unprovoked. But most objective observers look at this incident and see that Israel is in the wrong.
Most Americans, however, are not objective observers. After all, the Israelies are our Chosen People. In the first sequel to the Old Testament—known as the “New Testament”—the next sequel is foreshadowed by prophecies proclaiming that its main character, God’s son Jesus, will return when Israel is again occupied by the Jews and the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt. Americans, who are big fans of Jesus and can’t wait for his appearance in the third part of the trilogy, want to do everything they can to help the Jews in their quest to make Israel for the Israelies alone.
So naturally, whenever Israel’s right-wing government does anything morally questionable, excuses and justifications abound. Israel is brutally oppressing millions of Palestinians in order to “starve them just a little” so that they’ll get angry at their own government, Hamas, and demand that they give in to Israel’s demands. The only reason they’ve been able to get away with this crime against humanity is that the United States has their back. The world’s largest military power says that the Palestinians are the bad guys—the Israelies are just defending themselves—and that if the Muslims want peace they should just give all of their land to Israel. By insisting on having a state of their own—which they had until Israel decided to form their own state on top of theirs last century—the Palestinians are to blame for all of the violence.
Obviously, a flotilla full of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza is a vessel of hatred, as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. They’re trying to undermine Israel’s plan of making the Palestinians hate Hamas for not giving in to Israel’s demands. Ipso facto they’re helping Hamas, whom we all know are a bunch of bloodthirsty terrorists.
Again to be fair, Hamas is a terrible organization that has undoubtedly committed heinous crimes and killed many innocent Israelies. I would never say that Hamas is completely right and Israel is completely wrong. But most American politicians and pundits would confidently say that Israel is completely right and Hamas is completely wrong. In American politics regarding Israel, there are no shades of grey.
So we hear almost nothing but defense of Israel’s actions in the American mainstream media. The vessel was looking for a fight. They had cameras on board because they were hoping to catch Israel in an act of violence and generate sympathy on the world stage.
Here’s my question: what’s wrong with that? That’s the way the Palestinians should be going about the fight to free Gaza. Not launching rockets at Israel, but merely trying to bring food and medical equipment to the people of Gaza and showing the whole world how far Israel is willing to go to prevent them from doing that. Draw attention to the conflict and get other nations to put pressure on Israel to back down from its all-or-nothing stance.
Again, a few rockets apparently were launched from Gaza on Thursday, apparently in retaliation for the flotilla raid, and to whoever launched those rockets I say: No. Wrong. Don’t be stupid. You’ll never win this battle through force. If those rockets had killed any Israeli civilians (and luckily they didn’t) you would have completely undermined your own cause and dissolved the sympathy that this incident has generated for you.
Meanwhile, America is doing everything it can to stifle that sympathy. The most infuriating thing I’ve heard from any pundit came from Charles Krauthammer, who insists that there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza to begin with: “There’s no one starving in Gaza. The Gazans have been supplied with food and social services, education, by the U.N., by UNRWA, for 60 years, in part with American tax money.”
Not only are the Gazans getting plenty to eat, but it’s being paid for by the American taxpayer! The Gazans are not only a bunch of bloodthirsty Jew-hating terrorists, but they’re a bunch of welfare queens as well! If you already hated them because they were Muslim, now you can hate them even more because you’re paying for their food!
I’d like to see Krauthammer travel to Gaza and talk to some of the people there, maybe ask them to give the American taxpayers some of their money back.
But in all seriousness, America needs to break out of this support-Israel-no-matter-what political mindset we’re trapped in. Israel is becoming like a cinderblock that we’ve tied to our neck with our own rope and it just keeps dragging us down. Worldwide public opinion is shifting very much in favor of Palestine and against Israel. How long can America afford to stand with Israel against this turning tide? America’s international clout has already diminished significantly in just the last ten years, and it won’t be long before we’re no longer the sole superpower but merely one of many.
Once America can no longer be Yahweh to Israel, Israel may find itself backed into a corner. And if they’re still unwilling to budge a single centimeter from their demands, they may do something drastic and drag America into it with them. Worst case scenario, Israel drops a nuclear bomb on Iran (or some other perceived threat) and the U.S. follows them into war while the rest of the world sides with Iran. Suddenly we’re in WWIII, with America and Israel as the new “axis of evil” to the rest of the world.
We can’t just sit idly by and let Israel oppress these people indefinitely. You can only starve a population for so long before the world takes a stand against you. Whose side do we want to be on? We should be doing everything we can to pressure Israel to give up on this blockade and let the people of Gaza live and thrive. We should insist that they work towards peace, which means giving up some of their demands rather than stubbornly insisting that the Palestinians give up all of theirs.
But it doesn’t look like we will. Too many people have invested too much in seeing Part Three of The Bible written exactly as they’ve pictured it, and that means treating Israel as a divine, infallible entity. They have to realize that Israel is capable of mistakes, America is capable of mistakes, and that both of our countries are making very serious ones right now.