Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reminds me of a Story Jesus Told

Television widely reported that Israel had sent an emergency field hospital and a team of doctors to Haiti.

I had two feeling as I watched this newsworthy event. At first, I thought, this is Israel at its best. But then almost immediately that feeling jumped to ambiguity. Right next door to Israel is the Gaza Strip which was also devastated, not by an earthquake, but by man-made bombs which destroyed hundreds of innocent lives and thousands of buildings, all deliberately imposed by Israel. Was this humanitarian aid to Haiti a smokescreen to draw attention away from the pain and misery caused by Israel on a people for whom Israel is responsible?

Rachelle Marshall writes:

A year after the invasion Israel’s three-year blockade of Gaza is tighter than ever, with the result that Gaza’s crippled infrastructure has not been rebuilt and thousands of Gazans remain homeless in the midst of another winter. Because Israeli bombs destroyed the sanitary system, many Gazans are not only cold and hungry, but forced to drink contaminated water. Amnesty International’s British director Kate Allen said of the current situation, “The wretched reality endured by 1.5 million people in Gaza should appall anybody with an ounce of humanity. Sick, traumatized and impoverished people are being collectively punished by a cruel policy imposed by Israeli authorities.[1]

Akiva Eldar, writes in Haartz, a leading newspaper published in Jerusalem, “Israel’s compassion in Haiti can’t hide our ugly face in Gaza.”[2]

As I pondered this, I opened up a Middle East magazine and there staring me in the face was a picture, taken on January 18, 2010 in Gaza City, of Palestinians bringing money and goods they had collected for the victims in Haiti. I guess victims anywhere can identify with victims everywhere.

I am dumbfounded by the lack of media coverage of this amazing gesture by Palestinians. Television reported the medical teams sent by Israel out of its abundance, but I did not hear a word about the Palestinian charity sent out of their poverty. I guess if you have spent years demonizing a people it is hard to suddenly reverse and show them as decent, sympathetic and caring human beings.

I am also wondering if former presidents Clinton and Bush will send a “thank you” note to the Palestinians. Both of these world leaders have been in Haiti raising awareness and funds for the victims of a massive earthquake which destroyed the homes and infrastructure of much of that country. The astonishing thing to me is that the Palestinians, who themselves have been the victims of enormous destruction, responded with gifts for the people of Haiti. .

Bush and Clinton seldom draw attention to the “earthquake” that has been hitting the Palestinians for the last 60 years because they both backed Israel’s program of making life for a Palestinian unbearable, including settlements, checkpoints, a separation wall, road blocks, illegal detentions and assassinations. It would be interesting to see how they would word a thank you note to the people of Gaza and West Bank.

Reminds me of a parable Jesus told about the widow’s mite.

Thomas Are
April 18, 2010

[1] Rachelle Marshall, U.S. Placates Israel and Opens New War Front while Ignoring Palestinians, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2010, P. 7.
[2] Akiva Eldar, Haartz, January 18, 2010.