Friday, January 2, 2009

RAWI's Letter on the Violence in Gaza

RAWI Condemns Israel's Aggression in Gaza

RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers, condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip. Various news agencies around the world have reported the terrible impact of Israel's military aggression in Gaza, which has resulted in nearly 400 Palestinian deaths, the majority of them children and civilians.

A particularly gruesome illustration of Israel's brutality can be found in its effect on specific households, such as the Hamdan family, who lost two daughters, the Balusha family, who lost five daughters, the Absi family, who lost three daughters, and the Kishku family, who lost two daughters. In all, Israel has killed over fifty Palestinian children.

Commentators on the political right have applauded Israel's destruction of Gaza and the massacre of civilians, in the same way that they applauded the deadly economic strangulation preceding the current military violence. Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum went so far as to accuse the Palestinians of photographing children pretending to be injured.

It is the response of traditional liberal media that has been most disturbing, however. Nearly all corporate media in the United States and a majority of its progressive forums have conceptualized Israel's attack as retaliatory, a position that has no basis in fact and that would be unjustifiable even if it were true. In fact, the majority of American media appear to believe that the death of Palestinian civilians is an unfortunate byproduct of their own innate barbarity. Famed Israeli writers and noted doves David Grossman, writing in the New York Times, and Amos Oz, quoted in Ha'aretz, appear to be much more preoccupied with the purity of the Israeli soul and with finding a quieter way to suppress Palestinian resistance than they are with the belligerence of their government.

We deplore that media continually emphasize Israel's retaliation as if to simultaneously justify and absolve its cruelty. We would point out that most of the Gazans are refugees who are indigenous to the villages and cities Israel claims to now be protecting. Gaza's population does not consist of irrational Muslim extremists who inexplicably dislike Jews and take a perverse joy in undermining Israel's timeless and innocent democracy, as American news outlets relentlessly suggest; it consists of people who have been systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited. Nor does this population exist outside of history; it is engaged in a colonial war against a powerful state that has long undertaken a program of ethnic cleansing.

RAWI calls on artists and writers of all cultural backgrounds, nationalities, faiths, and political affiliations to vocally condemn Israel's extensive human rights violations, along with the odious discourses of justification that allow those violations to continue.

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