Sunday, May 16, 2010
One can imagine that were US soldiers to open fire with live ammunition on American protesters, this would not be acceptable. Likewise for Canada and most democratic nations.
Yet somehow there is a void, a gaping hole in the media into which fall most potential reports on Israeli soldiers shooting with live ammunition on visibly unarmed demonstraters.
When Palestine is too far away, too “over there” and mired in “age-old conflict” for mild news viewers and readers to understand, perhaps the simple comparison of “would we accept this for ourselves?” is more apt.
Would we accept that a young man in his early twenties is shot dead for prancing on his land, gleefully laughing in the faces of armed (Israeli) soldiers, delighting in accessing land that had been unilaterally cut off from him and its owners… should be shot dead for it?
Sure, it was a shot in the leg…but then it was aimed at the artery, wasn’t it? And don’t most people understand that arteries bleed hard and heavily, that one can die from a wound to the artery. Israeli soldiers certainly know this, which is most likely why the sniper aimed for the artery.
Would we accept that another group, carrying a large and clearly printed banner on more unilaterally-forbidden land, be shot at with live ammunition? That the bullets would pierce the banner, endangering the lives of those holding and behind it? That puffs of dust would arise from bullets striking just metres from our feet?
Would we accept this land annexation in the first place? Give up our right to live on, work, and access our land, because a bullying state said it is for their security? Would we be able to look across the devasted, bulldozed, rendered-lifeless land, across a fortified fence to lush, fragrant land being worked with tractors on the other side…and believe that the destruction of our land was actually for ‘security’?
No, we’d cry racism. We’d scream for our rights. We’d demand the media take notice. We’d demand the support of other “freedom-loving, democratic” nations.
Who the hell is not freedom-loving? Who doesn’t want to access their land? Who doesn’t die inside because they cannot provide for their children?
Would we be as composed, gracious, generous and welcoming as Palestinians if we had endured the decades of suffering, mockery, dispossession, lies, broken promises, massacres, and being the black sheep of the media?
It is never acceptable for Israeli soldiers to use live ammunition against unarmed protesters, not in Gaza, not in the occupied West Bank or East Jerusalem.
But they do, and it’s no diversion from Israeli policy.