By Tracey Rogers
I believe that all people share a common cause for basic freedoms.
Yet whenever I speak out about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, I’m cautioned to “be careful” — that I’ll only be able to have a fruitful dialogue by recognizing grievances on “both sides.”
Well, I recognize a few things.
I recognize that any loss of life, whether Israeli or Palestinian, is a loss to be grieved. I recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to self-determination, and that neither side should be subjected to violence.
I also recognize that this latest conflict on the ground reveals a huge power imbalance that gives Israel the upper hand — thanks in no small part to the $3.8 billion that U.S. taxpayers spend on Israel’s military every year. As of May 17, about a dozen Israelis had died, while the toll for Palestinians had reached over 200 — including over 60 children.
Finally, as a Black American, I recognize that Palestinians are fighting for the same basic human rights as Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color right here in this country.
When I traveled to the region five years ago, I was horrified by what I saw. Turnstile check points managed by Israeli Defense Forces that Palestinians had to travel through daily. Entire villages without running water and electricity living across from Israeli settlers with every amenity imaginable.
I watched Israeli soldiers raid a refugee camp in the middle of the night across the street from the hotel where I stayed in Ramallah. It made me nauseous — and I was further appalled to learn about the hundreds of Palestinian minors imprisoned and tried in Israeli military courts.
I left the place feeling like I had left the twilight zone. As Israel’s right-wing government — which rules over millions of Arab Palestinians — moves to explicitly establish Israel as a Jewish-only state, the parallels between Jewish nationalism in Israel and white supremacy in the United States have grown ever clearer.
What’s worse, Israel’s efforts to create a Jewish-only state have been strongly and historically supported by the United States.
Like previous administrations, the Biden administration has followed the same script, vocally supporting Israel. The White House has exclusively supported Israel’s “right to self-defense” — but not that of the Palestinians living under occupation.
This inequality often extends to media coverage as well. Israeli forces blew up the offices of Western journalists in Gaza yet still receive more sympathetic coverage in the U.S. press than the Palestinians those bombs fall on.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has been accused of crimes against humanity, just got 10 minutes of airtime on Face the Nation to defend his actions. Palestinians rarely get that kind of exposure.
But hopefully, things may be changing.
Two-dozen members of Congress sent a letter urging Israel to halt its evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Others are calling on the U.S. to attach human rights conditions to its aid to Israel.
Meanwhile people around the globe are marching, like we saw last summer after the murder of George Floyd, to #FreePalestine.
“If we are to make good on our promises to support equal human rights for all, it is our duty to end the apartheid system that for decades has subjected Palestinians to inhumane treatment and racism,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian American to serve in Congress.
Just as Black Lives Matter, so do Palestinian Lives Matter. We cannot campaign for racial healing and justice on stolen land in our own country while simultaneously backing a campaign to occupy and displace people abroad.
U.S. foreign policy on Israel-Palestine currently makes all of us complicit in crimes against humanity. That must change, now.
Tracey L. Rogers is an entrepreneur and activist living in Philadelphia.
“What’s worse, Israel’s efforts to create a Jewish-only state have been strongly and historically supported by the United States.” Well that statement is absolute Bullshit, But how many times has Hamas, Iran, ….. blah blah blah vowed to wipe Israel off the map… How many millions of dollars has Iran, Syria… (Obama giving millions to Iran) ..blah blah blah been used to fund Hamas? If the Palestinians want peace, stop allowing Hamas to live among them and other civilians and launch rockets into Israel. They have a right to defend themselves. Funny how things were going “well” in that area of the world under the previous admin, with peace accords being signed, travel being restored, and under this current week, dishrag admin beholding to the Chinese this all starts up again,
Pierre Tristam says
The AIPAC-fetishized fictions about Israel are as inevitable as Balfourian fog in London. Obama did not give millions to Iran. He returned money owed Iran since before its assets were frozen in 1979. And for all of Palestinians’ idiotic claims to wipe Israel off the map, which have been mere words, Israel has, in fact, wiped Palestinians off the map, denying them the right to exist, imprisoning them in internment camps known as Gaza and the West Bank and massacring them with Swiss-clock regularity in cataclysmic disproportion to casualties it suffers itself. Absolute bullshit is right, but the commenter has the wrong victim. Of course, goddamn dirty Arabs don’t really count, they’re subhuman, they’re faceless, they’re terrorists, those women and children especially—as Israel reminds us every hour—so he may be right after all.
“And for all of Palestinians’ idiotic claims to wipe Israel off the map, which have been mere words…..”
Really? Did Hamas not just launch 1500 rockets into Israel? How can you expect to have any credibility when you can’t even accept reality? Bombs are not “mere words.” You might want to ask the people who are on the receiving end about that.
Pierre Tristam says
Not to diminish any loss on either side–a single death among either Israelis or Palestinians is a murder too many–but let’s see: as of 48 hours ago 238 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli bombs (at least 61 children), 12 Israelis killed by Hamas bombs (2 children). Really. When you calibrate your words to Israel’s brutality (though we should call war crimes by their proper name), you might gain a little credibility of your own. This article from the Israeli press (“Israel Is Wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose“–our own press being more beholden to the kind of fictions feeding your delusions–might help you see who’s on the receiving end of what.
This comment is extremely dishonest. One side has warned targets before their shelling attacks, the other has no regard for what it hits, it just throws it missiles. Imagine bombing a neighbor because your native people refuse to integrate into society and think they are free from paying leases that have been around since the Jordanian occupation. The reality is, Palestine and its “Government” which refuses to hold elections, has no interest in protecting its people, leaving them to die for victory in a PR role.
All over a court ruling which stated that Palestinians would INDEED have to pay their respective leases to keep their homes.
Your Bullshit fictions of the situation of the Palestinians is as common as a hemorrhoid flaring up. The thing is, you know better. You lived there. If the bullshit would stop from both sides and they sat down and were interested in peace, things would move forward. But the extremists don’t want peace. THEY want it ALL. So Hamas launch rockets. Why are the Palestinians allowing that to happen over and over again int heir back yard, were they live? Why don’t they do something about it? You touched on soem of that in a recent op ed.
So Obama GAVE money back to IRAN. Why? Why would he do that? Why give that to a country who screams death to America and funds terrorists? Why not do something good with that money? Maybe feed the homeless living on our streets? What do you think IRAN did with money that Pierre? Feed the children of the poor? Who do you think is funding Hamas? Why is Hamas hiding behind the poor Palestinian people and firing their rockets? They know that Israel will strike back with vengeance and poor Palestinian woman and children will die. It then makes news. So it is Hamas you should be bitching about. Stop the shit and talk. They are surrounded by countries that want them wiped off the face of the earth.
You want a fair fight? let’s give rockets to the population of Israel and have them fire them back indiscriminately and then see how many innocents are killed.
I love when “Pro-Palestinian Activists” and other assorted one-sided Israel-bashers say things like, “All lives matter, of course, BBUUTTTTTTT…(Jews-I-mean-Zionists-maybe-not…The rockets, terror attacks, Kite and balloon bombs and other assorted forms of violence pitched against them day and night is all THEIR fault.”)
Because we all know that the Palestinian battle-cry of “”FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, ALL OF PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!” is meant to signal the Palestinians’ intentions to establish peaceful co-existence, tolerance and equality in the region. Uh-huh…Right. That’s the ticket.
Do the People of Color in the pseudo-Progressive Movements that promote this “Anti-Zionist” rhetoric even know that Muslims/Arabs were a LOT more active in promoting The Black Slave Trade than the Jews-excuse-me-Zionists historically were…or that People of Color (especially migrants) are literally auctioned off in public in countries like Libya to this very day? Do they realize the horrific extent of the ongoing genocides that are taking place in majority Muslim African countries by extremist Islamic forces?
Maybe they might want to turn a little more attention and focus to that, if Black lives really matter to them.
Dennis C Rathsam says
Ms Rogers tells 1/2 the story. For months there was peace in this region, now with a weak president, Hamas is growing stronger. Iran is fueling this fight. They send bombs by the thousands to Hamas to use against the Jews. Hamas & Iran are to blame for the start of this conflict. When will our president stand up to Iran? With Russa, China, N Korea, & now Iran all in on destroying the USA. Wake up America,before theres nothing left!
Ray W. says
Dennis C Rathsam begins with the statement that for months there was peace in the region. Since there have only been pauses in violence for the entire history of the state of Israel, he starts with an incorrect point. It is extremely difficult to win an argument when one starts with a losing point. It is accurate for Dennis C Rathsam to point out that Iran has been supplying Hamas with rockets for years. Those 4000 or so rockets fired toward Israeli cities and towns have been smuggled in over the years, something our immediate past president failed to stand up to Iran about, so Dennis C Rathsam gets a partial successful point here as well as a partial losing point. Apparently cluelessly, he manages to lose most of his credibility by asserting it is President Biden who is to blame for failing to stand up to Russia, China, N. Korea and now Iran, when it was our past president who worked so hard to sever ties with our many allies around the glove, emboldening our four enemies during the past administration. Are we now reaping the whirlwind of the failures of the past administration?
As an aside, I am reminded of the old maxim that all great problems are unsolvable. If a problem is solvable, it cannot be called a great problem. This is a paraphrase of a quote attributed to Lincoln, but with so many quotes rightly or wrongly attributed to him, I am not sure of this one’s actual source. We began a cold war with the Soviet Union shortly after WWII, so I suspect Russia will be an enemy for decades to come. We began a cold war with China shortly after a hot war in Korea, so I suspect China will be an enemy for decades to come. We engaged in direct warfare on Korean soil beginning in 1952, so I suspect N. Korea will be an enemy for decades to come. We overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government in the late 50’s, so I suspect we will be enemies with Iran for decades to come. Somehow, Dennis C Rathsam urges Americans to wake up right now, when we have been awake for decades.
We all fear for our children’s future. We all breathe the same air. These words were uttered some 50 years ago. They remain important today. But FDR’s great Four Freedoms speech also remains important today. We should strive for freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. As a 10 or 11 year old child, I asked my father why our address and phone number was published in the phone book. It had to have been 1967 or ’68, as my father resigned from his position of State Attorney in the summer of ’68. I don’t recall what prompted my question, but the memory of armed officers patrolling my home during what the St. Augustine Record termed the “Summer of Fear” in St. Augustine in 1964 was still fresh in my memory. While none of the six children in 1964 were told at the time why we had officers at our home 24 hours a day, I know I was told of the confirmed Klan death threats during my childhood, so that was probably the prompt to the question. My father answered that he that he just could not live his live in fear; he was a public official and if someone wanted to call him to complain, such a caller had the right to do so. If someone wanted to come to our home to complain, the visitor had the right to do so. Years later, as a prosecutor myself, I looked up a series of Florida cases involving murders of judges, state attorneys, and assistant state attorneys and occasional family members. There was a significant number dating from the time of my father’s term and before, so his was not an idle boast. Perhaps, my father channeled FDR’s vision for America when he spoke to me. I cannot say, but it makes sense, as my father was a little older than I was when FDR made the speech. Dennis C Rathsam has every right to live every day of his life in extreme fear for the end of our great nation. We all have that choice. Unfortunately, I have been hearing various versions of Dennis C Rathsam’s fearsome claims my entire life. There will always be some among us out there predicting the end of everything, if only we do not stop doing what they think we are doing wrong. Despite the best efforts of Nazi Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, red China, etc., we are still here.
I often think of the three forms of empire: Empire of Destruction. Empire of Conquest. Empire of Trust. Academia recognizes the existence of only two empires of trust: Early Rome just before and during the age of the Senate, when Roman foreign policy was to enact trade deals with its neighbors, promising to join them if any invader entered a neighbor’s soil, and the United States after WWII, when we utilized the Marshall Plan to engender trust and then formed NATO and SEATO to further mutual interests worldwide (something we commonly veered away from in our repeated failures in supporting the wrong dictators). Iran probably seeks to destroy the West. Russia and China probably seek to conquer the West. North Korea? Who knows? Delusions of Grandeur?
Clearly, neighboring Arab states and the Palestinian people were all bent on destruction the day Israel became a nation over their protests in 1948 and the focus has changed little over the decades, except for Carter’s Camp David Accords, which took Egypt and Jordan off the table as direct governmental threats to the tiny and still fledgling nation. No president before Carter and none since has done as much for Israel as he accomplished, but peace in the region eludes all outside efforts, for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is the entire lack of any desire to build trust between nations in the region. Interludes between warfare have been the norm, never peace. Perhaps Mr. Tristam can reprint his “Icarus on Crack” column, published just before the second Gulf War. To me, a classic. Thank you, Pierre, for that column and many others. Just before that war, I attended a conference in New Orleans. As the shuttle from the airport approached the hotel, I saw long lines of rail cars loaded with replacement military vehicles, awaiting freight transport to the region. I remarked to my wife that the decision of war had already been made, that diplomacy was merely a sideshow at that point. I did not comment that we were about to engage in conquest, not trust.
Cordwainer Bird says
Woke to the core. I miss the days of genuine journalism- though I acknowledge the fact that this is an editorial piece- where cleverness was present. You acknowledge that there is terrible bloodshed on both sides, yet you subscribe yourself to the struggle of one faction. These are the facts: Israel massacres Palestinians one day, and Palestine butchers Israelis the next. There is no moral victor here; there is an oppressor, clearly, but the Palestinian response to such oppression is but a miserable response. Neither of them deserve to win. It is most inevitable that they will destroy each other, and each nation’s lack of morality will shine quite bright.
On another note, in response to the editor, the very notion that Palestine is only “sending words” is misleading and false. Though the Palestinian government has made an outright diplomatic effort to reclaim their territory, they have also undertook vast terrorist measures to achieve their cause. It is a normal occurrence to fear public transport in the face of a possible car bomb. Not to mention the missiles; but of course, Israel just blows them up the next day. It is a never-ending cycle of immorality.
When you see arguments like this one below you freeze in your tracks and go somewhere else.
“Your Bullshit fictions of the situation of the Palestinians is as common as a hemorrhoid flaring up”
Com on man… you got to admit it is better than Pierre”s ” fictions about Israel are as inevitable as Balfourian fog in London”…
@Wrong as usual:
Learn more – lie less:
All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing.
— Philip Roth
tom dooley says
This all boils down to what you believe in. Which means they will never be peace in the middle east or the world. Do you believe that Jews are GOD’s chosen people per the bible and once they we’re freed from Egyptian slavery and wondered the desert for 40 years and their GOD said “go forth to the land of milk and honey” per Exodus which is present day Israel? (Judaism) Then came Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey saying “I am the way and no one can come unto GOD’S kingdom without going through me”? (Christianity) Remember GOD separated the red sea, handed us the 10 commandments (actually 113 but thats another story for another day), put up a “fire tornado” to stop the Egyptians from getting to them, gave them water from a rock per Moses, (which is why Moses wasn’t allowed to go to “the land of milk and honey” because GOD was mad at him), etc. Then we have the so called prophet who married a little girl but was so nice he didn’t have sex with her until she was 12 (Muslim). This is the ideology we are fighting throughout the world. Jew’s, Christianity and Muslim. In that order; as “organized religion” was founded. Like Sammy Hagar said “We have Allah in the east and Jesus in the west; Christ wants a man to do? This is only for those that “believe”; if you don’t believe please disregard. GOD bless the U.S.A. and all the non believers. Have a great day and quit fighting over the color of our skin or our religious beliefs. This is what makes the country a great “melting pot”. If this is such a racist country then why are people from ALL RACES trying to get in? Don’t let the dem’s or lib’s fool you; it’s all about power and being in control!!! Keeping us separated and fighting is what they want!!! Stand tall and Proud!!!