‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat. ‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” (Alice in Wonderland)
The past month or two I have been running from one demonstration and issue to another in support of various causes. I have attended several of the various demonstrations in support of Palestinian rights as Israel, with the backing of the United States, once again, exercises it’s barely hidden genocidal agenda. The past week and a half, Israel has been pounding Gaza with a massive bombing campaign and an aggressive ground war. The Palestinian people have already been devastated from a seven year siege. Many people aren’t aware that Israel, which puts forward the myth that Gaza is an independent entity, still controls most of the power, water and goods going in and out of Gaza – Gazans currently get about four hours of electricity a day and three hours of water once every three days. In the week and a half since the “war” began over 1,000 Gazans have been killed (a majority women and children), millions of dollars of infrastructure have been destroyed. At last tally, 45 Israeli soldiers and three Islaeli civilians have died in the conflict and Israel gained controlled of approximately 1/3 of the remaining land in Gaza which they now call a “buffer zone.”
This is the third such incursion since 2008. The other two bombing operations resulted in thousands of additional deaths and demolished neighborhoods and the ongoing blockade prevented Palestinians from rebuilding. People often forget that the destruction of the infrastructure, once the bombing stops, is often more dangerous to the people’s health when they cannot have drinkable water (95% of Gazans don’t), adequate power and shelter.
For the first time, Palestinian voices are being heard, even by the mainstream — if only because the devastation is so great they cannot be ignored. Demonstrations in Europe reached over 100,000 in England and France. There is clearly a movement that is stronger today than in the past. Many of the demonstrations I attended were sizable – between one and two thousand people. In New York City, a stronghold of Zionism, that is no small number and shows the changing landscape in regard to the Palestinian issue – even here in the belly of the beast. And yet, today, as I write, there is no cease fire and the people of Palestine are still under attack.
I could go on about Gaza, but there are so many other issues. Like the 57,000 undocumented children coming across the Mexican border, fleeing from dictatorial states like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that the United States supported. Most recently the USA supported the coup in Honduras which ousted President Zelaya after he made two fatal mistakes – he doubled the minimum wage and he planned to join ALBA, a group of seven Latin American countries which have formed a coalition to fight the United States neoliberal agenda in the South. President Obama was the only leader in the western world who did not condemn the coup and gave immediate recognition to the new government. The United States government plans to send the majority of the fleeing children back to these states for their “safety” which is the reason that they fled and made the dangerous trek to the United States in the first place.
And then there are the other “domestic issues.” Thousands of poor, elderly and disabled people in Detroit are being denied water because they can’t pay their water bill, often after the state cut off their pension due to the Detroit bankruptcy. A young man brought my attention to another black man, Eric Garner, killed in Brooklyn due to excessive police force. .(The young man who told me was unaware of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict).I also just learned, today, that there was yet another incident yesterday in which the NYPD stomped on another black man’s head – also captured in a video. Oh, and there was newspaper headline about the “open carry (guns) advocates who stood on the grassy knoll (where Kennedy was killed) and criticized Obama. Guess what man – you’re still black.
Finally, there is the civil war in the Ukraine which recently resulted in the deaths of 298 civilians in an air crash (many of them AIDS researchers) when the Russian backed rebels shot the plane down by mistake. Many of the US backed forces, which recently took the Ukraine over in a coup are real old fashioned fascists (which feels a lot worse in Europe than it does here given the fact that Fascists have actually held power in Europe and we experienced the results).These new Ukrainian leaders are pressuring Europe to put more and more sanctions on Russia. I’m old enough to remember the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States and this certainly feels like de javu.
But I digress. There is a big demonstration planned in Washington for August 2nd for Palestinian rights. Kerry is negotiating right now for a short cease fire that does not actually change any of the conditions in the siege on Gaza. Hamas (and it seems like most of the Gazan people including those who don’t back Hamas) say the cease fire must include the ending of the Siege on Gaza (what have they got to lose? They are already being slowly killed anyway with no drinkable water and half their land destroyed). Israel is unlikely to comply (Why should they ? They have our backing and the Seige meets their long term goals for a greater Israel just fine).
IN THE MEANTIME THE DEMONSTRATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C. IS STILL 7 DAYS AWAY – HOW MANY MORE PEOPLE CAN THEY KILL AND HOW MUCH MORE INFRASTRUCTURE CAN THEY DESTROY IN 7 DAYS? Of course, this is just an infinitely small fraction of the devastation we have visited on the rest of the world in just the 20th and 21st century. (Pick a region)
Have you signed your 150th petition today? Have you written your congress person or Obama? Have you gone on a demonstration? Do you feel good about doing your civic duty? I was watching TV the other night and the ad with the dog with sad eyes and the sentimental music came on soliciting donations so that the dog and other dogs could live without abuse. There is a similar ad with a small clearly starving child in Africa. As Bill Clinton would say “I feel your pain.” Synthetic, televised pain is not enough.
The definition of insanity someone said is to keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results. With the advent of the internet and globalization, the world is turning faster now, and the contradictions are heightening. “We do what we can” we say. We “keep the faith, “we keep hope alive.” But as Mao would say, just “tolling the bell” (doing the usual level of political work or doing the usual rant as I am doing now) is not enough. We need to give ourselves a wake-up call.