Israel, Palestinians, Dr. Abuelaish, War, Labels   Leave a comment


No More Labels

Some of us are slow to anger. I am one of those. I remember the first time I felt the unfamiliar sensation of my teeth clamped tight together. It occurred around age ten and was caused by an evil culprit, my younger brother. His intensity matched his fiery red hair. His adeptness at knowing exactly what buttons to push to cause an instant flush of anger was phenomenal and at such an early age. I am happy to say he is a warm generous human adult now, and I am still slow to anger.

Something this past week did cause my anger to rise along with frustration, shame, sadness, all things that cause one to “feel.” I watched an interview with  Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. He spoke about the book he has written, I SHALL NOT HATE: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey.  Two years ago, this Palestinian doctor who lives in Gaza was preparing for an interview on Israeli TV. He is an Israeli-trained doctor who works in Israel, and has saved the lives of his Israeli patients. Two years ago this January, the doctor was preparing for that interview, which was to give him the opportunity to speak about the horror happening near his home in Gaza caused by Israel’s 2009 invasion. While preparing for his interview, two tank shells, exploded into his home killing three of his six daughters and a niece. Bessan, Aya, Mayar, and his niece Noor were all killed.  He found one decapitated. He could not evacuate other wounded family members because of the gunfire outside. One daughter’s eye was on her cheek. Dr. Abuelaish phoned the TV station where his interview was to take place hoping to find help. You can imagine the unbelievable anguish and despair in his voice on that phone call. The doctor’s wife had died four months earlier of leukemia and now three daughters and his niece.

When asked about that day in January, he chooses to tell you about his daughters. He will tell you Mayar always helped with dinner. That Aya hated doing the dishes. Bessan once attended a peace camp in New Mexico. There she met a number of teenage Israeli and Palestinian girls like herself. “I remember her coming back and saying, ‘Those girls are just like me,'” he says. The call Dr. Abuelaish made that day to the TV station has been broadcast live with the hope of opening the eyes of the Israeli public, so they will hear the pain of a father, and not ignore the fact that children are dying? Bright capable loving children are dead. Will it open their eyes? Or will they continue to hate? And continue to label the Palestinians as the “other” and continue killing children. The Palestinians forced to live in camps in Gaza do not have enough food and medical supplies and Israel will not allow humanitarian groups to help. America backs Israel.

A rant on anger will not bring four young girls back into their father’s arms, back to the classroom where one was the best mathematician, or back into the world with plans of being a journalist, back to the home where the oldest helped her father with the younger children since her mother’s death. There is much to be angry about in 2011 – anger at war, at rhetoric, at violence, anger at food prices rising while bailed out banks doubled their profits, at corporations having the same rights as individuals, anger at talk of Social Security cuts while the wealthy do not pay their share, anger at my own self-absorption while women and girls throughout the world are raped. I am angry that bullets and shells fall on innocent children throughout the world. The Israeli Defense Force has conceded firing those shells, but government authorities have declined to apologize, calling the incident an “operation of war.” To hell with war.  If a man who loses three daughters and a niece to excuses of war has the forgiveness and courage to proclaim a voice for peace, where are the rest of us?

If we do not stop hiding behind our military industrial complex and reach out to meet our neighbors in peace, we will all be dead either physically or in spirit, and we will live in a country where military occupation supersedes the quality of our citizens’ lives. What good is having more military weapons than all other countries combined if 50 million people have no health care, while our media uses ridiculous distractions like pretending that a birth certificate does not exist. I’m angry that children in Iraq have war as their background, their foreground, their life, and we expect them to avoid violence and terrorism as adults when we have killed their families and called ourselves liberators.

Anger only helps if one refocuses it towards solutions and stops labeling those with different views as “the other.”  When we take a marker and label something, we capture it, put it on a shelf with others marked the same. It instantly limits possibilities. What if Americans refused labels and instead discussed ideas and solutions?

You cannot label an American. I live in the city, I live in the country, I am a black Catholic, a white Muslim, I converted to Judaism,  I am an atheist. I hunt for deer and pheasant, I am a vegetarian, I am a liberal against abortion, and I am conservative who wants the mosque built in New York. I believe in single payer health care and that does not mean I am a socialist. I am a Republican who cares about the poor. I am a citizen of the United States of American. I have opinions, which you will never learn or understand unless you talk with me about them. If I tell you that I am a liberal or a conservative, you will make a judgment that just might not fit who I am.

Care to join me in a refusal to be anyone’s fighting rooster or pit bull? I have not been starved, or teased, maybe taunted a bit, but no more will I succumb to the label of either liberal or conservative, democrat or republican. But I will say that I am for children.

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Posted January 24, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Essays, Uncategorized

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