Mikos Fabersunne: Experience of Palestinians parallels Native Americans under colonialism
May 15 of this year could either be celebrated as the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, if you identify as an Israeli Jew, or as the memorial of “the catastrophe,” Al Nakba, if you are among the over 700,000 Palestinians ejected from their land in 1948 by the militias of the Jewish settlers that came to take their place.
It is a contest between two narratives, not unlike the one taught to us descendants of European settlers about the “discovery” of America and the need to “civilize” native peoples versus the flip-side of the colonization process experienced by the native peoples through their conquest and near extermination, including their slaughter in California by firearms and artillery of settler militias and armies in the quest for land and gold.
Thankfully, factual accounts of the experiences of the indigenous peoples across the continents have begun to appear in the mainstream media. Our children’s textbooks began to change approximately two decades ago when the ugly truth was revealed about early encounters between native peoples and the Spanish, beginning with Columbus. The efforts of native historians, sociologists, political scientists and legal scholars are uncovering the gruesome details of the treatment by the settlers of the native California peoples. It takes curiosity, a belief in justice, a sense of duty, and a measure of courage to read these accounts and face our past. The next step will be our seeking atonement.
There are many distractions and obstacles to such revelations — the newest game show, the latest Tweets and falsehoods from the White House, interspersed with media sound-bites intended to capture our attention, but which focus mainly upon the latest consequence of a conflict, rather than informing us accurately and sufficiently about its roots. Thus, it also requires a willingness to seek alternative sources of history and news that we can trust, if we wish to know the whole story.
We go into the final week of peaceful protest known as the Great March of Return by more than 11,000 Gazans, who are walled-in by Israel and prevented from having much more than the bare necessities of life. They seek humanitarian treatment and the fulfillment of the promise of their Right of Return to their villages made to the Palestinian refugees in 1948 by the U.N. General Assembly. But again, we are offered instead a deceitful narrative that suppresses the history behind these protests and distorts the facts. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman claims all 1.8 million residents of Gaza are “Hamas terrorists,” and Benjamin Netanyahu reiterates that Israel is only defending itself.
Notwithstanding that the Gazans march unarmed and pose no military or policing threat to Israel, Lieberman’s proclamation attempts to legitimize the wanton killings. At the time of my writing, over 45 Gazans, including two journalists, have been killed by Israeli sniper fire and more than 6,000 have been wounded. When one shoots fish in a barrel, the shooter needn’t worry about the fish shooting back. Consequently, not one Israeli soldier has been wounded, let alone killed, during this protest.
These actions by the Israeli military are War Crimes, and the blockade by Israel of food, medicines and supplies constitute Crimes Against Humanity. Both are violations of international law — the same international law, ironically, that was established following World War II to prevent atrocities and genocides such as the Nazi Holocaust from recurring.
Although the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, has criticized its own government over the war crimes and has attempted to dissuade soldiers from blindly following orders to commit them, here in the U.S. we learn little of this, nor about the $3.8 billion in annual foreign aid the U.S. gives to Israel — more aid than is given to any other country in the world — aid that enables the commission of those crimes and makes us a complicit partner. Nor do we hear much about the U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the presence of the U.S. military in Yemen — acts of complicity in crimes against humanity by Saudi forces that have led to famine and the worst cholera epidemic ever reported.
Please take up the challenge to perform your own investigations. Consider sources such as Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and If Americans Knew. Then raise your voice and demand the end of such atrocities.
Mikos Fabersunne lives in Nevada City.
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