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  • Roxanne Noor

For Those Still Remaining Neutral


Our moral architecture is crumbling as Gaza is demolished. We’re watching genocide live-streamed while tucked into bed, riding the subway to work, and drinking green juice on lunch break. The American government is funding mass slaughter. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Israel has been the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since its founding, receiving about $300 billion (adjusted for inflation) in total economic and military assistance.” 


The majority of missiles obliterating Palestinian homes, and turning civilian bodies into bloodied pulps are American missiles and taxpayer's dollars. News releases from the New York Times, states “The aid sent to Israel from October 7 to December 29 included 52,229 M795 155-millimeter artillery shells, 30,000 M4 propelling charges for howitzers, 4,792 M107 155-mm artillery shells and 13,981 M830A1 120-mm tank rounds.”


The Biden administration is publicly fueling genocide, and those who speak against U.S. involvement are strategically silenced. The intellectuals and journalists are muzzled purposefully. There are now speech restraints that go against First Amendment rights due to the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” which is directed toward those criticizing the government of Israel.


This act attempts to force people into muted compliance. Universities and their professors know they’ll lose donors and public government funding if they speak up about Israel. Those who openly boycott the Israeli government’s actions are forced into a wall. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine have been sanctioned for legitimate protests and even banned.” To genuinely question the current violence and stand against genocide is now labeled as antiemetic, which halts the dialogue and is untrue.


So instead of debating the current situation, let’s recount the past, the history that’s brought us to where we are now, and the imperial systems that summoned the current catastrophe. What is the fastest way to control a people? You displace them from their land. You make them nationless. You strip them of resources. You economically castrate them. You occupy them. This is the opposite of sovereignty. Palestine has been illegally occupied since 1967 and remains at the mercy of their oppressors. 


Political activist and writer Arunduhti Roy states “In the summer of 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Over the decades there have been uprisings, wars, intifadas. Tens of thousands have lost their lives. Accords and treaties have been signed. Cease-fires declared and violated. But the bloodshed doesn’t end. Palestine remains illegally occupied. Its people live in inhuman conditions, in virtual Bantustans, where they are subjected to collective punishments, 24-hour curfews, where they are humiliated and brutalized daily. They never know when their homes will be demolished when their children will be shot, when their precious trees will be cut, when their roads will be closed when they will be allowed to walk down to the market to buy food and medicine. And when they will not. They live with no semblance of dignity.”


As Roy depicts, the Palestinians are put in extreme conditions of scarcity and depravity, stripped of human decency. They are watching their erasure. What the extreme conditions breed is extreme behavior. Suicide bombers. Men willing to join Hamas from feelings of rage and helplessness. Roy says, “Suicide bombing is an act of individual despair, not a revolutionary tactic. Although Palestinian attacks strike terror into Israeli citizens, they provide the perfect cover for the Israeli government’s daily incursions into Palestinian territory, the perfect excuse for old-fashioned 19th-century colonialism, dressed up as a new-fashioned 21st-century war.”


If we look at history instead of an isolated event of terrorism, we see what pushes a person into extreme behavior is extreme depravity. It’s not random. There’s cause and effect. Leading specialist on Gaza and Harvard scholar Sara Roy, says “Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into one of aid-dependent paupers.… Gaza’s subjection began long before Israel’s recent war against it [December 2008]. The Israeli occupation — now largely forgotten or denied by the international community — has devastated Gaza’s economy and people, especially since 2006…. After Israel’s December [2008] assault, Gaza’s already compromised conditions have become virtually unlivable. Livelihoods, homes, and public infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israel Defense Forces admitted was indefensible.”


According to the United Nations, in Gaza, the poverty rate is 64%, and half of the population is starving. Despite the 30,000 deaths as reported by NPR and the sociopathic targeting of hospitals and schools, there’s a refusal to ceasefire. During the UN Security Council vote on December 8, 2023, the U.S. voted against a ceasefire when 13 member states voted for it. Why? Instead of being punished for violating human rights laws, Israel is U.S.-backed. Like most cases in American history, the question of “why?” can be answered by “follow the money.”


Other nations, such as South Africa know the brutality of apartheid and were the first to initiate proceedings for Israel’s violations of International Human Rights Laws. According to UN chief, Antonio Guterres, Israel broke the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), by their blatant attack on civilians and use of prohibited weapons like white phosphorus which breaches conditions under the Geneva and Hague Conventions.


Israeli journalist Gideon Levy stated, “ What Israel has been doing daily for 55 years (since the 1967 occupation) in the West Bank is a war crime. From (illegal Jewish) settlers to the transfer of (Palestinian) prisoners to Israel, from nightly abductions of people from their homes to collective punishments, all of these are violations of international law.” This brutal behavior is not only during “the war” but a full-time ongoing job of the last 75 years. There’s no turning away, we’re watching babies crushed under rubble on our screens. 

Public intellectual and author Noam Chomsky speaks of his regrets saying, “I started talking publicly about the criminal nature of Israel’s actions in 1969 – it should have been much earlier. I was familiar with the repression of the Palestinian population in Israel. I’d seen it first hand … In 1953, I lived in Israel for a couple of months at a kibbutz, which at that time was the basis for the outreach to the Arab community and the Palestinian community.” Many people speculate blindly based on propaganda, but those like Chomsky know because they’ve seen. 

One of my best Israeli friends was forced into the Israel Defense Forces, at age 18, and assigned to patrol the Gaza Strip. He called it “the biggest prison he’d ever seen.” He had no will to fight, and when his unit was shelled, he lay on the floor wishing to die. He knew what they were doing was wrong and it was debilitating. Now he’s 32 years old, and the memory still makes him cry. 

The atrocities of Palestine highlight the darkest part of imperialism’s perverse psyche, the need for domination, and the blistering arrogance to get away with it in broad daylight. But more and more people refuse to cooperate. Israeli journalists like Shireen Abu Akleh and Gideon Levy risked their lives to portray reality outside governmental fabrications. University students are violently attacked, maced, and pelted by cops in riot gear for peaceful protests. Israeli high-ranking army officials resigned and left their old lives. 

We cannot stay complicit, so we act. We speak, we write, we march on the streets, and we humanize Palestinians. In the struggle, we’re bound by a shared humanity and need to ease suffering. We cannot be bought out and we cannot be silenced. Something much greater than greed and fear is at play. It’s the pursuit of justice.

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