I spent the first years of my life in northern England living below the flight path of Luftwaffe planes as they flew back and forth from Germany in an effort to “take out” the docks, canals, mills and mines of industrial Lancashire and to use fear to demoralize the population. Air-raids, sirens, nights spent in shelters and in darkness, explosions and making my way to school passing bombed and burned-out buildings were the norm.
As is well recognized, these punishing “strikes” served to strengthen and unify a previously class-riven society. Reactions to similar tactics have been noted throughout the world.
There are thousands of people living in the United States who share similar memories and experiences far more terrifying, yet, today, on Sunday Jan. 4, at the start of a year where we are filled with hope for changes in policies, news reports state that “senior members of the Senate” support current Israeli actions in Gaza.
I am outraged.
How can anyone, especially those who claim to be “leaders,” support the bombing and shelling from airplanes, ships and tanks, of an area of a million and a half human beings? These “senior leaders” claim to understand the unacceptable terror to which the residents of southern Israeli towns are subjected as they try to shelter from incoming rockets from Gaza. How is it then that they “support” the infliction of terror upon a population trapped by a persistent blockade with little or no water, electricity, very limited medical supplies and where, to obtain what food is available, they must leave any shelter that their homes afford?
Have these “leaders” no understanding of history? Have they never understood how people react when trapped? Have they not followed the “successes” and “failures” of Israeli government policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians since 1948? Are they ignorant of the precept that violence begets violence? Do they routinely express admiration for people like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus of Nazareth on special days of the year but feel, in their hearts, that their teachings are really irrelevant?
I feel the terror inflicted on anyone by bombs and missiles. How can I support a policy of terror, especially when I know it will bring only further violence, further resolve to resist, further hatred and suspicion for generations to come?
One of the most outrageous aspects is that this terror is being perpetrated by “a loyal ally” whose armed forces last year received at least $2.4 billion from the American people (according to Congressional Research Services). Every taxpayer in this country is involved in this horror.
I cannot wait until Jan. 20 in the hope that perhaps the incoming president will say “Stop! The USA will no longer provide military aid to further a policy that we all know is bound to fail to bring lasting security. From now onwards, the U.S. will work with others to be a truly honest broker, not, as formerly, one which favored one side and which turned a blind eye to transgressions.”
I am contacting President-elect Obama, Sens. Clinton, Bingaman and Udall and Rep. Lujan to urge that they support real changes in policy toward the Middle East. I am asking that they do their utmost to teach the benighted “leaders” of the Senate that true support of an ally means at times saying “No! What you are doing is wrong and we will play no part in it.”
I hope that others will take action, according to the dictates of their conscience.