A Time to Break Silence is Now

Last week, protesters by pro-Palestinian groups IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace drew 10,000 to the nation’s capital and staged a sit-in at the U.S. Capitol Building.
(Photo by Danny R. Johnson)

By Danny R. Johnson – Political News Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C.–President Joe Biden and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu are under tremendous pressure from a growing and vocal constituency within their countries and the global community to declare an immediate cease-fire. As of this writing, it does not appear that either one is ready to accommodate and make concessions.

The obvious is clear: When Hamas unleashed its savage and brutal butchery on Israeli and foreign civilians on October 7, the Israeli people were left in shock and fearful, unlike ever since the 1967 war. That is because the October 7 attack did not just strike at the heart of one politician’s [Netanyahu] mythos but at the core of his country’s founding ethos. The Hamas massacre has been likened by many to 9/11. But its existential import for Israelis is far worse. When President George W. Bush presided over the response to the worst terrorist attack on American soil, the country rallied behind him. Most voters did not think his administration could have anticipated such an audacious plot and gave Bush a pass for not stopping it. But Israel was founded precisely because the Jewish people have long experienced devastating assaults—and the state was meant to prevent them.

Today, following the worst anti-Jewish violence since the Holocaust, that promise has been irrevocably broken. The myth that Netanyahu assiduously cultivated about his leadership stands exposed as a self-serving fiction, and he will be forever remembered as the security hawk who presided over the most significant security failure in Israeli history. He will never be elected prime minister again.

The immediate question for the American people is where we go from here. American taxpayers are financing this war with tens of billions of dollars, with no endgame in sight and no relief for the thousands of Palestinians dying and being forever scared by American weapons and bombs. It is estimated that 1300 Israelis were killed in the October 7 massacre, compared to the 6,000 innocent men, women, and primarily children who died at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) bombings within the past two weeks.

It is a known fact that Hamas is a group of terrorists who will stop at nothing but death for themselves or anyone else who gets in their way. The group of thugs and repeated war crimes enactors never had the Palestinian people’s back on self-determination and never will. But the larger question for the free world and its peace-loving dwellers is, “How much collective punishment does the IDF administer in dismantling Hamas at the expense of killing innocent non-combatants?”

Over the past two weeks, the world has seen an enthusiastic outcry from people on both sides of the Israeli-Hamas conflict. Some are calling for revenge, and others are calling for a cease-fire.

The Roots of the Israeli-Hamas Conflict

In February 2022, Amnesty International released a 280-page report showing how Israel was imposing an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it exercised control over their rights, fragmenting and segregating Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Palestinian refugees denied the right of return. Through massive seizures of land and property, unlawful killings, infliction of serious injuries, forcible transfers, arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement, and denial of nationality, among other inhuman or inhumane acts, Israeli officials would be responsible for the crime against humanity of apartheid, which falls under the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In October 2022, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, concluded that the occupation of the OPT is unlawful due to its permanence and Israel’s measures to annex Palestinian land in law and practice. In 2022, such measures included retroactive authorization of settlement outposts, including by the Israeli Supreme Court.

In November 2022, Israel held its fifth election three years after an ideologically diverse coalition government collapsed, which continued to discriminate against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. The vote was polarized between those supporting and opposing former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while consensus on maintaining Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories remained. The right-wing bloc, led by Benjamin Netanyahu and a religious-nationalist coalition, secured most seats and formed a government in December 2022.

The United States government, which included Democratic and Republican administrations from the 1970s to the present day [with exceptions to President Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton], tolerated and allowed these violations.

America, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way, but it must have the courage and moral fortitude to strike a balanced approach in dealing with the Israeli government. Based on what we have seen in the past two weeks and the last 13 years, she has yet to step up to the plate and do what is right.

There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that a lasting peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. The military-industrial complex, warmongers and hostile forces, and their allies in Western government and the Middle East will work fervently to prevent such a reality from ever materializing. But this positive and non-violent revolution of values is the world’s best defense against Antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and unnecessary wars.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. There is such a thing as being too late in this unfolding conundrum of life and history. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of humanity does not remain flooded — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. The ancient poet and philosopher Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”

We still have a choice today: non-violent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

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