“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” – Illinois Senator Barack Obama
With that simple statement President-elect Barack Obama expresses his compassion and sympathy for the government of Israel in their perpetual conflict with the Palestinians. However, I do wonder how Mr. Obama would feel if his two daughters were going to sleep every night hungry because of a blockade that kept him from obtaining food. How would Mr. Obama respond if somebody was preventing his daughters from getting medication they need to control allergies or for other ailments? How would Mr. Obama react if there was somebody who kept his family in the dark refusing access to electricity or fuel? Would these conditions be more acceptable or more tolerable for him and his family?
While Mr. Obama wears his compassion for Israel proudly on his sleeves, his compassion and empathy for the people of Palestine and in the Gaza strip competes with the chirping of crickets for silence. The idea that the Palestinians are the only ones responsible for triggering this conflict is about as unfair as the racially generic but predominantly white community of America’s claim that the black community is more prone to criminal behavior based solely on one sided statistics and per capita numbers instead of an all encompassing understanding of cause and affect.
For the past six months there was a cease fire in this part of the world. There were no rockets falling in the northern part of Israel. There were no bombs falling in Gaza. But while people enjoyed life free from falling bombs and suicide bombers, Israel maintained its blockade on the Palestinian people unhappy with the fact that these people exercised their democratic rights and voted for Hamas to run its government. The people of Israel see Hamas as little more than a terrorist organization and decided to put the thumbscrews to the Palestinian people in order to influence them to select a different form of government.
It is true that Israel withdrew from Gaza. But it’s also true that Israel refuses to let the Palestinian people control their own destiny or to exist as equals. If Gaza does not comply it is subject to a punishing embargo designed to make the people regret their collective choice. Israel may feign surprise and innocence to the rocket attacks, which is meant as a retaliatory action for a people who have to see their children doing without the basics other people take for granted with no end in sight. The cease fire was honored, and yet no progress made on the blockade front. Who is the real aggressor in this conflict? Is Israel as innocent as they would like the world to believe?
It is a rather ridiculous notion that the Palestinian people want to erase Israel off the face of the planet is going to do it with the rather low technology rockets that would have difficulty hitting the ground if it weren’t for gravity compared to the United States military contractor sourced smart bomb technology of Israel’s arsenal. While a constant rocket attack is nothing to be tolerated, neither is the systemic starvation and subjugation of an entire community of people.
At last count, well over three hundred fifty Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four day bombing of Gaza and three times that many have been injured compared to five Israelis. Dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the past four days from Israel’s massive retaliation and the Israeli government has made no signal that the escalation of violence will be halted any time soon. The message is that if anyone thought the people of Gaza was living in hell before, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Those people can deal with their affliction and feel the wrath of the Israeli military at the same time now. They will be bombed back into submission.
And if all that doesn’t work, judging by the public support of Israel by the American President and the President to be, a low yield nuclear device would probably be acceptable. We can’t have other people in the Middle East thinking that they are entitled to the same existence as the people of Israel. The Israeli people have a right to expect to be able to go to bed at night without rockets coming into their home. Whether or not the people of Gaza can have the same expectations, as well as the expectation to food, medication, utilities and the other essentials to meet a civilized standard of life is a matter of opinion.
In the news this morning I saw a member of the Israeli legislature discussing Israel’s options as well as the potential for the American response. Recognizing the fact that the United States is about to go through a presidential transition, one official dismissed the idea of angering the coming Obama administration. The legislator quoted Mr. Obama’s statement at the beginning of this article. Why would Israel worry about Mr. Obama when Mr. Obama made it clear that the United States is fully behind Israel?
The President-elect has never uttered a single word criticizing Israel’s actions against its neighbors in the Middle East. Mr. Obama has never uttered a single word supporting Gaza. Unfortunately, before he can even assume the presidency, Mr. Obama has again demonstrated his bias against any changes in the status quo. All the slogans about a time for change are quickly evaporating into a political vapor of the same old same old. People who continue to hope for a genuine peace in the Middle East brokered by an impartial Untied States government led be Mr. Obama are better off hoping Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny will visit their homes.
So the children of Israel can sleep well at night knowing Mr. Obama looks at them and sees them as he sees his own two daughters. Such empathy and compassion sends a strong message of support. Too bad the other children in the Middle East don’t have an American President who is willing to vocalize a similar compassion and a similar support. What world leader stands ready to empathize with the children of the Gaza strip?
When Hamas was democratically elected as the ruling party in Gaza, Palestine last summer President George Bush went livid. Never one to speak very well to the American public off the cuff, he held a press conference to voice the official position of the people of the United States. In the press conference, Mr. Bush listed all the problems with Hamas. The President actually stood in front of the podium and said that Hamas was trying to provide educational opportunities and improve the economic infrastructure in order to provide opportunities for the Palestinian people. All these efforts of Hamas providing for their citizens were undermining America’s interest. Hamas was actually running Palestine in ways that were contrary to the goals and desires of the American people as well as the people of Israel.
When I heard the President make his news conference I had to bust out laughing. Mr. Bush was upset that the people of Palestine, who voted for their leaders in a democratic process with the utmost integrity, didn’t elect the party that was sure to toe the line and fold to every Israeli and American indulgence. The people of Palestine were foolish enough to think that they should elect the party that they felt most capable of protecting their interest and not the interest of others. In order to appear acceptable in the collective opinion of the people of the United States, Palestinians should have elected an administration that would favor our interest.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I had to realize that the people in the United States have been duped into voting and supporting policies that make the rich richer and keep the poor poorer. The United States is a land of opportunity, sort of. If you build a better mousetrap and you can find someone to help you bring your better mousetrap to market, and they don’t do anything to legally cheat you out of the rights to your invention, then you too can reap the benefits of an economy made for the few. Or if you have a talent like playing a sport or acting or singing, and somebody wants to pay you well for your talent, you too will do well.
But many people who aren’t even close to doing well, people who can actually benefit from social programs or whose family could benefit from social programs, are actually advocating the failure of any effort to implement things such as universal healthcare, a living minimum wage, a much more equitable distribution of educational and employment opportunities, and the like.
The number of average people who walk around promoting an end to this universal healthcare nonsense is truly staggering. People will say something stupid like universal healthcare would mean higher taxes. But how much would people and corporations save in health insurance premiums. I know when I was given a price for insuring a family of four with healthcare coverage, the cost was an astounding fourteen thousand dollars a year. How much would it cost me if we all simply paid taxes for it and dispensed with the expense of having to pay the insurance company to hire an enormous staff of clerks, investigators, and lawyers to find any and every reason to reject claims and protect profits. The idea of taking profits out of the equation sounds too much like socialized medicine and that’s automatically a bad thing.
Nobody complains about social programs when we pay taxes for police and fire protection. Nobody complains about paying taxes for social programs that maintains a military so large all the other countries in the world combined can’t match their budget. Just think how much in taxes we could save if we sent an aircraft carrier or two to the scrap heap. People are more apt to pay for a new, shiny B2 Stealth bomber at one point five billion dollars a pop before they’d raise taxes for a child to get a school book. Too many people are willing to play the old mantra, nobody paid for my education so why should I pay for America’s future to be educated?
Although education is a social program, it has a direct benefit to the nation. An educated work force is able to get better jobs and pay more taxes. The investment in our future will have a positive return for the country. But that’s just too socially oriented. Every man and woman for him or her self is the new American way. An army of one? You damn right. One for all? Not in these turbulent times. All for one? I can do that, as long as I’m the one getting helped. Too many people plan for the future thinking they are going to be the one living large and benefiting from the lack of a national social conscious.
But the truth is the vast majority of us are just one small crisis from falling through the social cracks. It doesn’t have to be a devastating illness. Anyone of us could walk into work tomorrow and be told that the business is closing and moving overseas to be more competitive. Educated people might be able to find a job quicker than the not educated. Some of us might be able to afford healthcare on our own. If we had social programs that helped all of us we wouldn’t have to be so focused on keeping none of us from getting any benefit from it. It’s in our best interest. Unlike the Palestinians we don’t think much about that when we vote for our government policies.