Today is just another day in Palestine: another death; another outrage; another horror for the world to read about. In Iowa, I'm told, only those who bother to flip beyond the front page Jesse Jackson paternity headline, rustle past the Personalities in the News tidbits and 10 pages of advertisements with, at best, one news column per page finally reaching the International News section will see that yet another Palestinian has been killed.
Few, I imagine will even see the report. Those who do will mistakenly think the now tired Israeli clich that Palestinians are still sending their kids in harm's way and disrupting peace in an otherwise "democratic" country.
If they think this or anything at all about the death of Hisham Miki, most readers will then go off to experience their day. The reported episode will mean nothing to them.
On television, I watched as the Miki's body was desiccated, dragged for hundreds of meters from the West Bank to Israel's claimed territory. The acts and the video made me feel threatened. The act was not unlike the recent dragging of an African-American southerner by white men. But unlike what happened in Israel, the men in America were punished for their reprehensible act and the reasons behind that murder were thoroughly denounced. Those who may have approved of this evil were driven by the rest of America to silence, relegated to the secrecy of their own immorality.
I know the world saw Israeli troops murder a 12-year old boy in Gaza who died in his father's arms amid a fury of gunfire. Anyone, anywhere, who allowed him or herself to see, could be witness to the uneven battle Palestinians face and the hatred leveled against us.
Today, eight hours ahead of my Iowa family, I sip my morning coffee and wonder if they will see the story about the newest killing in Palestine when they get up and start their day with their newspaper and a cup of coffee. Will it matter if they do see the story? I wonder how many Iowans will care who killed whom or why? I wonder how many Americans know that their taxes financed the Israeli atrocities which force us to fight the only way we can, with "terrorism", as Westerners call it. I wonder if the people I met at Chautauqua, New York understand the pressures of war and the wish for survival creates burdens that sometimes destroy morality, faith, and our own allegiance to each other. I wonder if they will recognize that our only weapon against oppression is to stand up to tanks and nighttime attacks against our villages and to die before the world's eyes, hoping against hope that someone will see that we have arms and legs and faces and hands like any other humans. I know there are people in America who care and who do not want their tax dollars to finance our misery, but will they have the courage to speak about our reality to an audience who cares no more about us than they do about a television commercial? In a sense, our plight is action against the peddling of Zionism and Jewish denial of what the state of Israel has done to us.
"The other night," an American friend wrote, "a group of us were discussing worldwide violence as we sat waiting for our dinner in a local restaurant. One woman looked up and said, "As long as there are Palestinians, there will be war." All the other women at the table stopped short and were silent, but no one wanted to disrupt the social evening by challenging the remark. No one even had the courage to say, "As long as there is injustice, there will be war."
Speaking to a service group, another friend trying to explain why Palestinians continue to stand up to aggression that has taken all but approximately 16 percent of their country from them, was constantly interrupted by queries such as "What's an Arab?" and "Are Christians Arabs?" and "Are Palestinians a people?'" The talk was about Palestinian refugees, the largest group of displaced persons in the world today, estimated at somewhere between 4 to 6 million people. Yet, in Mid-west America, some listeners couldn't even fathom the existence of Palestinians let alone the realities of their struggle. Even Arabs and Muslims seemed to lie beyond definition, somewhere, I suppose, out there in Hollywood violence or in a cultural abyss.
If Americans are faithful to their moral traditions, peace, justice and the democracy that they want to export to the whole world, then Americans cannot turn away refusing to be "their brother's keeper", even if that brother or sister is an Arab Palestinian. If they truly believe in human rights for all, then they will write letters to their local and national representatives in government, demanding an end to support the Israeli government. And when the sit down to reconcile their federal tax returns, they will demand an end to the use of US tax dollars being spent to perpetuate these injustices.
My hopes are in the hands of those who know the meaning of justice and who have lived in a land where cooperation and peace make possible all the potential of our day. I stretch my hand to those of you who care with the prayer that morality will unite us allowing injustice to fade as people of all faiths return to what is holy within them. Then, the faded kingdoms of our past will be the parables they are meant to be.
Samah Jabr is a seventh year medical student and a life-long resident of Jerusalem. This article was written with the assistance of her American friend Betsy Mayfield.