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17 USC 102

A Modern-Day Guernica

May 25, 2018

 

Noor Darwish is angry. Her people are dying and the government of the country she lives in—the most resourceful and influential in the world—won't acknowledge the central issue at hand.

 

Wearing a white #FreePalestine t-shirt, she engages with bystanders on a patch of grass between the library and cafeteria buildings at Santa Clara University, about an issue she cares deeply about. The handmade plywood wall behind her titled “Israeli Apartheid” is painted gray and bears a number of inscriptions. One of them is “Boycott, divest, and sanction.” Others include passages of text detailing the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a number of facts and figures representing Israeli oppression of Palestinian refugees. The wall is a component of Palestinian Awareness Week, an event hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a social justice organization whose mission is raise awareness of the Palestinian plight, wherever it may be.

 

A third-generation Palestinian, Darwish was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and grew up in Dubai for most of her life. During her first year in the U.S. as a freshman at Santa Clara University in 2015, she joined SJP, driven by a thymos rooted in the historical oppression of her people, as well as her tenacious appetite for social justice. Three years later, in her junior year, she found herself the President of SJP, standing on the lawn between the library and the food court talking to me, of all people.

 

The wall happens to attract the largest crowd, Darwish tells me, because of its strategic placement between the library and cafeteria buildings. “Its aim is to give basic information regarding the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict using both information and visuals,” she says. “It touches on subjects such as the theft of the land in 1947 the numerous Gaza massacres the boycott divestment sanction movement freedom of movement illegal settlements and so forth.”

 

“Is #FreePalestine objective?” I ask her. Darwish’s answer is simple. “I do not believe we can move towards a solution or talks of peace if the rights of the Palestinians are continually being oppressed,” she tells me. “Human rights [are] human rights, regardless of what entity you support.”

 

Mere hours prior, the 60th Palestinian demonstrator had been shot and killed by IDF forces near the fence of Gaza, a snaking metal barrier of barbed wire along the Israeli demarcation line, established in a 1949 Egyptian-Israeli armistice. Egypt had controlled the Gaza Strip until the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, after which according to the New York Times, Israel seized control of the region and forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the vast majority of whom became nationless refugees. In 1994, the Oslo Accords—a multilateral diplomatic effort to quell the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—provided for the creation of the fence, purposed with providing the means to establish a Palestinian state.

 

Although the border hasn’t been moved since 1949, Israel has established a number of measures for security purposes. A buffer zone of 300 yards extends out from the fence, and any unauthorized individuals in the area are subjectible to deadly force—the zone is where violent Palestinian demonstrations resulted in the deaths of dozens on Monday.

 

Open-Fire

 

Tents were set up 700 yards from the fence in mid-March and March of Return protests had been planned starting on March 30 in honor of Land Day. According to Al-Jazeera, which I should note in the interest of objectivity is a pro-Palestine press organization, Hamas had instructed protestors to “avoid friction with the Israeli occupation forces, and cooperate with the instructions of the organizers of the events,” which disputes claims that Hamas encouraged violence in the demonstrations—however, what Hamas says is very different from what Hamas does. Burning tires were set up to obstruct the view of Israeli snipers, who had been authorized to use live ammunition as a last resort under the IDF’s open-fire rules of engagement. After the first five Palestinians were wounded, Liz Throssell, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that “unjustified and unlawful recourse to firearms by law enforcement resulting in death may amount to a willful killing, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” The first death was 38-year-old Osama Kodeih, which happened around the 150th injury by Israeli live fire.

 

Israeli troops seemed to be showing restraint earlier on in the late-March clashes, according to Al Jazeera journalist Hoda Abdel-Hamid, using bullets designed to maim, not kill protestors. However, the death toll continued to rise incrementally into early April, as well as the injury toll, which expanded to include a number of journalists and Palestinian medics (IDF forces were condemned for using tear gas to target a mobile health clinic set up near the tents, according to Gaza health minister Ashraf al-Qidra). On Friday, April 27, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets across the demonstrations, advising them against approaching the fence. The same day, the 37th Palestinian, 24-year-old Ahmed Rashad, died from wounds sustained to the head.

 

A group of 50 Israelites marched toward the Gaza fence in protest of the IDF’s use of deadly force on May 4 as Palestinians camped out on the other side prepared for the Nakba protests, condemning 70 years of Israeli rule. More tires were set on fire, and protests began to become violent, as Palestinians wielding Molotov cocktails, slingshots and homemade bombs approached the fence in increasingly large capacities. On Saturday, May 12, Egypt opened up the Rafah region to humanitarian aid. The same day, 15-year-old Jamal Afanah died from gunshot-inflicted wounds. Egypt and Jordan both condemned Israel’s actions shortly over the previous couple of weeks. A second round of leaflets were dropped.

 

As worldwide public outrage grew, representatives from the Palestinian Authority and the government of Kuwait called for emergency UN Security Council (UNSC) meetings. British Prime Minister Theresa May urged restraint on the side of the Israelis, and French President Emmanuel Macron outright condemned the IDF’s use of deadly force. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim extended condemnation to the U.S., writing that "the United States, unfortunately, took its place without complaint alongside the Israeli government in this massacre of civilians and became a party to this crime against humanity” and calling the killings “a vile massacre.” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of refusing to admit to committing genocide—an irony that I don’t need to iterate out loud—and recalled Turkish diplomats from Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C.

 

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel blamed Hamas for urging its protestors to use violence as a means to achieve a political goal—which, by the way, didn’t happen save for the fact that the vast majority of those killed were supporters, not militant members, of Hamas. In other words, Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were indirectly calling the demonstrators terrorists and their actions terrorism. Taking up the stance of self-defense and border enforcement (as per usual), Netanyahu wrote that "the Hamas terrorist organisation declares it intends to destroy Israel and send thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal.” He wasn’t entirely incorrect. The Trump Administration iterated similar rhetoric.

 

On Monday, May 14, 58 Palestinians were killed in a single day while entitled man-child Jared Kushner opened the U.S. embassy to Israel a hundred kilometers away in Jerusalem. On May 14, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) tweeted out a quote from Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights: “The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int'l community needs to ensure justice for victims.” During a UNSC meeting, however, the U.S. blocked a statement calling for an investigation into the killings, despite opposition from the UK and Germany. Around the same time in Gaza, an 8-month-old Palestinian child died from inhaling tear gas.

 

Around the world, strikes and protests took place, most notably in South Africa—a country with its own history of apartheid—and Turkey. As of now, more protests are planned—because of course they are—and more Palestinian lives will undoubtedly be lost in the coming weeks.

 

Guernica: Rhythm of Death

 

 

Pablo Picasso painted Guernica, his largest work, in 1937, deep in the fog of the Spanish Civil War. Its creation was in direct response to the April 26 bombardment of the Spanish Basque village of Guernica by Nazi and fascist Italian warplanes. The bombing was a tactical offensive carried out by the command of Spanish Nationalist forces helmed by fascist leader Francisco Franco, on their campaign to the city of Bilbao in Northern Spain. The Guernica bombing is largely considered to be the first large-scale air raid on a civilian population. Although the village was seated a mere 30 kilometers from the line separating the Republican and Nationalist armies, historian César Vidal Manzanares writes that the village’s exaggerated strategic value did not warrant the five waves of bombings over the course of just ninety minutes, which led to the deaths of 170-300 civilians.

 

Picasso was originally working on another work at the time by the commission of the Spanish government for display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne held in Paris that year, until a Spanish essayist named Juan Larrea urged him to make the Guernica bombardment his subject for the exhibition. Picasso was reluctant until he read New York Times journalist George Steer’s eyewitness account of the bombing. Steer writes in a paragraph he calls “Rhythm of Death”:

 

When I entered Guernica after midnight houses were crashing on either side, and it was utterly impossible even for firemen to enter the centre of the town. The hospitals of Josefinas and Convento de Santa Clara were glowing heaps of embers, all the churches except that of Santa Maria were destroyed, and the few houses which still stood were doomed. When I revisited Guernica this afternoon most of the town was still burning and new fires had broken out. About 30 dead were laid out in a ruined hospital.

 

Guernica on its own is a jarring, provocative, and deeply intimate rendition of what would today be called a war crime—an unnecessarily cruel, large-scale attack on a village that had little to no strategic value, marking the first of countless implacable violations of human life and dignity throughout modern history.

 

 

Fadi Abou Hassan is a political cartoonist based out of Norway. In his latest work titled The Nakba, first published in The Nation’s OppArt series, which publishes “artistic dispatches from the frontlines of resistance,” he places a Gaussian rendition of Guernica inside the white stripe of the Palestinian flag. The white stripe is a representation of the strength and resolve of the Muslim people, derived from the Battle of Badr in the year 624 A.D., which was the first major victory of the Prophet Mohammed. But today, most clearly conveyed through Hassan’s artistic product, the white stripe is scarred, blackened by a conflict that has plagued the Middle East for 70 years, a plague that has taken and continues to take millions of lives in its course.

 

Hamas and Extremism: The Perversion of the Palestinian Narrative and Israel’s Responsibility in its Amelioration

 

The anniversary of the Nakba, or the “catastrophe”—the day Israel was recognized by the West as a legitimate state, in which 700,000 Palestinians, including Noor Darwish’s grandparents, were displaced in a violent and deadly exodus—took place last Tuesday. Protests scorched the region, in Damascus and Jerusalem—in which, coincidentally, the U.S. embassy in Israel was being inducted. However, headlines over the past couple days have been sharply focused on the Gaza Strip. Two-thirds of the Gazan population are considered Palestinian refugees by the United Nations, and the region has been generally referred to as a prison. In 2005, the Israeli government under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew its military and civil settlements from Gaza, albeit maintaining control of all air and sea movement in and out of the area, including trade, humanitarian aid, and immigration. The southern region known as Rafah is subject to similar regulation by Egypt. Israeli and Egyptian control tightened after the terrorist organization (and it is a terrorist organization) Hamas—which doesn’t acknowledge the Israeli state’s right to exist—rose to power in 2008.

 

From 1948 to 1996, Palestinians were forced to live under a military regime imposed by Israel on the Arab population in the region, backed by Western governments. “Virtually overnight, they became strangers in their own homeland,” writes Seraj Assi, a fellow at Georgetown University, in an article called “Why My Father Made Me Forget Our Palestinian Catastrophe,” first published in The Atlantic magazine on Monday. He continues, “[my father] believed that third-generation Arabs in Israel could survive only through ignorance of what had come before.”

 

Second-generation Palestinians like Assi’s father believed in a future in which the very thing driving conflict and resistance against Israel was forgotten in favor of a progressively framed complacency. After all, complacency means peace, or at least temporary peace. The Nakba was, for lack of a better word, a driver of pugnacity. Its bloody legacy represented a call to arms against the Israel state, pushing Palestinians to become increasingly militant.

 

… And if we starve

We eat the dirt

And never depart …

 

Those three lines from a 1970 poem by Tawfiq Zayyad, a Palestinian politician notable for his “poetry of protest,” titled “We Shall Remain” defined the Palestinian resistance movement throughout the last quarter of the 20th century, around the same time extremist groups began gaining political traction. Zayyad was a member of the Israeli Communist Party after spending an earlier life in the USSR studying literature. He served as the mayor of Nazareth and was elected to the Knesset, the unicameral legislature of Israel, in 1973—an election that had been postponed for two months because of the Yom Kippur War, in which a coalition of Arab countries led by Egypt and Syria launched offensives against Israel largely on the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights during the holy month of Ramadan.

 

In many ways, Zayyad’s election—and the elections of many others like him—marked the beginning of a changing narrative that gestated with the incoming second-generation Palestinians and outrage over what had been done to their parents and grandparents. The wound was still fresh. Organizations like Hamas, an extremist coalition that formed in 1987 in opposition to Israeli occupation and was democratically elected to the Palestinian leadership, have perverted this Palestinian resistance narrative into a call to arms that violate the values of Islam. In the Gaza Strip in particular, the group unapologetically exploited and continues to exploit the sentimentality of the refugee population for political gain.

 

Understandably, Hamas was largely blamed for the deaths on Monday, for urging protestors to use violence in their demonstrations. Salah Al-Bardawil, a top Hamas official, told the Palestinian news organization Balanda that out of the 62 shot by IDF snipers, “fifty of the martyrs were Hamas and twelve from the people.” Whether or not those 50 were an estimate based on the predication that the militant Islamist movement enjoys popular support or “were Hamas” means membership or just support, every single pro-Israel force on the planet has taken those words and turned them against the Palestinian narrative. “Hamas admits most killed in Gaza violence were its members,” read a Fox News headline, completely disregarding the nuance behind literally two words coming from a single Hamas official boasting about the level of support his organization enjoys (Fox News isn’t exactly revered for its journalistic prowess so it’s understandable how such a skewed headline made it to publication).

 

This is problematic. Above all else, a terrorism label hurts refugees the most by calling into question the effectiveness of diplomacy and humanitarian aid due to the perniciousness of Palestinian leadership. Furthermore, there’s another dynamic at play here, which has served as a proliferator of conflict for decades that extends beyond the Middle East. While Palestinians have to deal with a terrorist narrative, Israelis must confront its oppression narrative; the reason why so many people are sympathetic to Palestine is because of Israel’s frequently neglectful governance. Extremism is the birth child of an oppressive regime, and while blame following tragedies like Monday’s killings go both ways, the perpetrators of oppression hold just as much responsibility as the perpetrators of violent reaction. For example, it’s irresponsible to see the terrorism of the Islamic State or al-Qaeda as purely motivated by religion and tribalism when Western influence and intervention in the Middle East starting in the late 1900s is what provided for that discourse, all at the expense of civilians caught in the crossfire.

 

I’m not necessarily implying that Israel is solely responsible for “fixing” the crisis. They merely have to show an understanding of the Palestinian narrative, instead of refuting it in favor of its own self-defense mentality. Essentially, the longer Israel sticks to its current disposition, the longer Palestinian and Israeli lives are at risk.

 

I’m not suggesting that Israel is the only one to blame for this crisis—but it can and should be the first one to take a step backward (not literally) and extend an olive branch to Hamas and, more importantly, President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah—the coalition of the Palestinian government that’s willing to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and is open to peaceful negotiations. Even if the effort fails, Hamas and Fatah may find themselves at odds with one another (as they have been in the past) as a result of the ensuing diplomatic dilemma, and the conflict’s narrative will change to one that a) favors Israel as having the moral high ground, and b) root out the second most insidious force driving Israeli-Palestinian discourse: Hamas and the terrorist narrative attached to Palestinian refugees.

 

In other words, diplomacy starts with civil intentions by one party. And here, Israel is playing on easy mode. Fatah is already sympathetic to Israel’s narrative, so why is it so hard for Netanyahu to acknowledge that Israel has a bigger role—both in perpetuating its own sovereign tranquility as well as the tranquility of the Middle East—in the peacemaking effort? Perhaps it’s because the history between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries runs too deep in each other’s blood. Perhaps it’s because Netanyahu doesn’t want to seem like a weak leader who appears to be bending the knee; perhaps Israel’s population is like that of Russia’s, one of intense, populist nationalism and intolerance—a conjecture that, based on the debates I’ve had with Israeli acquaintances on the issue, doesn’t seem all that unlikely.

 

Diplomacy and Discourse

 

On April 20, in an appearance in Gaza City, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, revved up the tension by leading supporters in a row to “march on Jerusalem.” In an interview with LUCB Channel 8, a local broadcaster in the region, he compared Palestine to a tiger that had broken out of its cage, a pugnacious remark that many in the international community likened to a threat of violence, or at least a propagandic call to arms. However, in a later interview with Al Jazeera, Sinwar guaranteed that Hamas would not encourage a military confrontation with Israel at the border.

 

Meanwhile, having expelled each other’s diplomatic envoys, Netanyahu and Erdogan began savaging each other on Twitter like two American political opponents. “[Erdogan] is among Hamas's biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter,” Netanyahu wrote at 7:21 AM on May 15. Three hours later, Erdogan landed a sick burn, telling Bibi to go “read the 10 commandments.” My friends, welcome to modern diplomacy. I would have given Israel more credit for reaching out to the Palestinian Authority had the Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant not threatened to kill Yahya Sinwar after calling him an “angel of death” for the Palestinian people—a statement which, again, isn’t completely false, but will no doubt stifle diplomacy for years. In the meantime, you can bet that hundreds more will die.

 

The election of Donald Trump in November of 2016 sealed the fate of Palestine. In an excellent essay titled “The Orange Messiah,” Newsweek journalist Nina Burleigh posed a question: “Will Donald Trump be good for Israel? Or is he just another meshuggener [a Yiddish word for “madman”] creating obstacles to peace in the Middle East?” Burleigh’s multifaceted question asks for separate correct answers that feed to specific issues, but she also seems to understand that those correct answers contradict one another when combined—culminating in a sort of prisoner’s dilemma. A favorable solution for the Israel may raise problems in the surrounding Arab states; therefore, the question isn't necessarily on the effectiveness of potential U.S. policies, but rather on where Trump’s priorities are. The Orange Messiah has, however, shown nuance on the issue, at one time telling Netanyahu to his face during a joint press conference back in early February to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.” Trumpean diplomacy is complicated.

 

Despite this, the Orange Messiah’s effect on the Middle East has been more than provocative—if you consider a) multiple attempts at a Muslim ban, b) withdrawal from the hugely successful Iran Nuclear Deal, and c) isolated military action on Syria with no strategic goal in mind “provocative.” I think that it’s safe to say that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has grown considerably unstable since the 2016 election, especially with the recent movement of the U.S. consul to Israel to Jerusalem, as well as the recognition of Jerusalem as an Israeli city, the combination of both being the metaphorical pipe bomb in the water heater.

 

Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s frequent disapproval of Israeli hardline policies kept Netanyahu—who is somewhat of a Donald Trump himself—and his right-wing supporters from advocating aggressive expansion, including a more rapid and  violent annexation of the West Bank. Not to mention, abandoning the two-state solution would be to effectively dissolve Israel into a multicultural apartheid state. Netanyahu, Burleigh writes, understands that hard-lining is against the Jewish interest in the long run and inflammatory in the short run. But now that Trump has empowered right-wing Israelites, the flavor of pro-settler sentiment has been dramatically improved, paving the way for the gradual deterioration of Israel’s cultural security, for lack of a better word. Burleigh writes that Trump’s pro-Israel stance is like “enabling an alcoholic to do all sorts of things that are quite bad for itself.”

 

In regards to the Monday killings: as of now, the U.S. stands by Israel’s actions, having aligned its rationale with that of Netanyahu. Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, stated that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley went as far as to say that Israel acted with “restraint.” The U.N., as stated before, has been less generous to Israel and more sympathetic to the Palestinians in recent years. However, Michael Lynk, the special UN human rights rapporteur to the Gaza region, has called Israel’s actions unwarranted, comparing the killings to “an eye for an eyelash.” Palestine has since recalled its envoy to Washington.

 

Additionally, further intervention is now a prevailing option on the table. “The international community must step in and prevent war,” said Nikolay Mladenov, U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, during an emergency session of the UNSC. Objectively, this statement is problematic in several ways. First of all, it implies that this is an issue confined to the Middle East, when foreign intervention has largely induced much of the discourse plaguing the area today. Secondly, Mladenov's statement disregards the narratives of the Arab countries in the region—has Western influence ever been welcomed by Islamic governments in the Middle East? Has the ensuing resistance ever been helpful in any way?

 

Non-interventionists jumped into the conversation on Monday. Ron Paul, iconic libertarian and frequent sympathizer of Palestine, vilified the killings, writing on Facebook, “… we cannot help notice that the death and maiming was unanimously visited on one side, with 60 Palestinians dead and more than 1,500—including journalists, women, children—receiving Israeli army gunshot wounds.” Mladenov’s conjecture is flawed on a level that a) shows how undeniably complex this issue is, and b) holds a worldview that places Israel, not Palestine, at its center when Palestinians are the main sufferers of Western intervention. When outside governments exert their influence, those governments’ narratives are inevitably going to clash and generate more problems, which it has for decades. This is so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to say it. And yet, I—in addition to actual experts on the topic—all feel the need to.

 

Immediately following worldwide outrage over the killings on Monday, South Africa and Turkey withdrew their ambassadors to Israel from the region. Other countries initiated diplomatic outreach. Belgium, in an effort to establish an investigation into the Gaza protests, summoned the Israeli envoy Simona Frankel after she had called the Palestinians “terrorists.”

 

Ronan Farrow—who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for his work reporting on Harvey Weinstein accusers and subsequent role in the #MeToo movement—recently published War on Peace, a book on international relations that I’m currently too broke to buy. However, I have watched a number of interviews with Farrow (this particular one with Bill Maher following the meeting between Macron and Trump in April is both substantive and watchable; I recommend it) and it seems that a large part of the book talks about the knee-jerk reluctance of nations to talk to one another through diplomatic efforts and instead rely on militaristic operations as an immediate replacement. This concept was iterated in films like Arrival, in which it was used to demonstrate how in times of dire conflict, our self-sovereignty drives us to shut off our screens, cut our phone lines, and prepare for war—both militaristic and ideological—when international communication is needed the most. And right now in the Middle East, it’s needed the most.

 

No Ways Back

 

In June of 2017, Miko Peled wrote in the Palestine-sided, Chicago-based publication The Electronic Intifada that “If we are to play a role in the overthrow of injustice, and if we are to one day see an end to the oppression of more than half of the people with whom we live, then we must use our privilege and act to end the normalcy and the oppression.”

 

Proponents of the #FreePalestine movement are frequently mistaken as opposers of Israel’s legitimacy, of its existence, and of its establishment. But at the center of the movement, it’s not. Derived not from the intrusive nature of Israel’s sovereignty but rather from the unjust plight of Palestinian refugees, #FreePalestine aims to rid the Middle East of discourse—which, by the way, is driven and perpetuated by petty quarreling. It does this by focusing on the one thing that can unite all sides of a conflict in our day and age: civilian suffering. Whether it’s Hamas or the IDF, Palestinian refugees have spent three generations now directionless and impoverished, at the mercy of two immature, unrelenting military forces. This needs to stop, one way or another. My opinion is that Israel, being the most technologically and politically capable, should make the first step, to acknowledge that they have been oppressive in the past, and that they continue to be oppressive in the present. They have more than an obligation to do so. They have a responsibility.

 

The definition of the word “nuance” might as well be “see Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. Any slight misconstruing of facts or developments could lead to political discourse. Nowhere is this more clear than the tribalist-driven misinterpretation of the #FreePalestine movement, which is not—I repeat, not—a pro-Palestinian government movement, it is an outright condemnation of human rights violations, which by and large befall Palestinian refugees. It demands Israel’s support, not its demise.

 

“The reason this topic is so important is because human rights are being violated,” Darwish told me in a later conversation. “The conflict itself is a very contested subject and the politics and recommended plans and government policies can be talked about forever and ever without really reaching a solution. If it was as easy as a one state or two state solution the problem would have been solved already, Thats why as a club we do not focus on the politics. Something that everyone can agree on is that human rights are being violated—now whether you think it’s justifiable that’s up to you; we obviously do not.”

 

As has made clear to me on countless occasions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there’s no use picking sides. Human rights, the basis upon which governments are built, must be separate from the political idiosyncrasies of those governments. The history is clear: both the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership have committed atrocities, all at the expense of each other’s—and their own—citizens. The blood of hundreds of thousands of refugees is on the hands of both. We, as disingenuous and sometimes disinclined participants of this very important conversation, are unable effect change under our current mindsets, especially during such a hopeless moment in time with no solution on the horizon.

 

So, we sit here, halfway around the world, watching the defining tragedy of our generation, pens and keys under our fingers, eyes glued to the articles and photographs feeding out of the dust and bloodshed demanding action, action that nobody—including diplomats, journalists, politicians, and civilians alike—can figure out. The coming years—undoubtedly bearing some of the most crucial economic, political, and cultural dynamics of modern history—will be difficult, especially for those standing in the fog of war, in today’s Guernica. The decisions to be made during this era will define our legacy as human beings inharmoniously existing on the face of an Earth filled with indiscriminate suffering.

 

Our children and our children’s children are watching. What will we do?

 

Photo credit John Englart, Creative Commons

 

 

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