Stop the world! I want to get off!
The real world, however, seems to be just the opposite. I watched a news clip with gut wrenching horror as a 12 year old Palestinian boy, cowering in terror behind his father, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. My horror turned to a blazing maternal anger, tempered only by the righteous knowledge that Americans don't stand idly by when soldiers murder children. I knew that my fellow Americans would be as enraged as I was, that our President and government leaders would publicly denounce this criminal act of violence and demand that the soldiers be court-martialed or tried for war crimes. I knew that the race, creed and color of this child were of no importance - he was an unarmed child. I thought that his death, as grotesque and vile as it was, was an isolated case - a rare exception.
I was wrong on all counts.
There was no general outcry from the media, our government officials or our nation as a whole. Other than the initial broadcasts of the murder, I haven't heard this little boy's death mentioned by anyone in a position to punish the murderers. While watching the second round of presidential debates I waited anxiously to hear what George W. Bush would say about the current crisis in the Middle East. (I already knew that Clinton and Gore weren't going to bother with one 12-year-old child or they would have already done so.) What Bush said left me bereft of emotion. I felt empty. He said that Israel is our friend. He did not mention the little boy.
In my fantasy world, we hold our friends to the same moral values to which we hold ourselves. Which leads me to a question I have never heard asked, but which I would hope all Americans will finally ponder. Why is Israel our friend?
In the weeks since this child's murder I have pursued the answer to my question. It didn't take long for me to learn that to not be friends with Israel is to be a racist anti-Semite. Never mind that killing a dark skinned, Semitic child should also be considered a racist, anti-Semitic act. That seems to be beside the point for everyone. The logic behind the need to be friends with Israel is based on the victim status of Israel. The Israelis want everyone to know, acknowledge and believe that they are in constant danger from those who wish to exterminate them-to wipe them off the face of the earth. This fear is grounded in the history of World War II. While such fear does not answer my question, it does provide the basis for the founding of Israel. Therefore, as Israel's friend, the US apparently has to let the murder of children pass as a necessary evil for Israel's survival.
To try to whip myself back into line so that I, too, could let this child's murder pass as a distasteful necessity I visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center's online photo albums of various death camps. I went first to the Dachau camp, as I had visited there in 1977. At the time of my visit I was stupefied and outraged to learn that the Nazis had duped Jewish internees into thinking that they were going to take showers, only to murder them. The system, I was told, involved a large shower room. All of the victims were ordered to disrobe, were given bars of soap and told to shower. Once inside, however, water did not come out of the showerheads-lethal gas came out. These victims were part of the overall 6,000,000. Imagine my angst and suspicions then, when I read the following description of Dachau on the SWC's website (November 3, 2000):
" DACHAU: One of the first Nazi concentration camps, set up 1933 and liberated in 1945. Its first inmates were political prisoners but the number of Jews rose steadily to about 1/3 of the total. Although no mass murder program existed there, tens of thousands died through starvation, disease, torture or in cruel medical experiments."
No mention of gassings? No mass murder program? Then why was I told otherwise, along with tens of thousands of other tourists, in the 1970's?
I went back to the current photos, which by now had been delivered to me as a slide show, and again watched the little Palestinian boy's murder. I sat here numbed as I watched his father try to shield him behind a concrete buttress, peaking around to see when it would be safe to move. Then I saw the father look back over his right shoulder, suddenly spot the soldiers, wave frantically for the soldiers not to shoot, struggle to shield his son and then scream at them with a look of guttural anguish. Fourteen bullets later the little boy is dead and his father critically injured. The ambulance driver who tried to help them was also shot dead by the soldiers.
I knew that my US taxes had helped to pay for those bullets, so I once again set out to reinforce my moral obligation to "support Israel, no matter what". I went back to the Dachau site and found a photograph with the caption: "US soldier near the gas chambers." http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/gallery/pg20/pg7/pg20738.html There in front of me was a photograph of a gas chamber. It wasn't the "shower" gas chamber, it was entirely different and I will admit to finding it odd that this particular gas chamber had a warning sign on the door with a skull and crossbones. I can't imagine anyone believing that they were going to take a shower in a room with a skull and crossbones on the door. I also saw numerous photos of piles of emaciated bodies, which I've seen hundreds of times before. I didn't notice any gunshot wounds, and since no one was gassed at Dachau, my guess would be that these unfortunate souls died of disease and starvation.
In the meantime, another friend sent another slideshow of numerous other Palestinian children who had been shot since the end of September, many of them mortally wounded. The "shoot to kill" order is obvious as all of the wounds are to the heads and upper bodies. One of the victims was an 18-month-old baby named Sarah.
By now I feared for my own mortal soul, having been pro-Israeli all my adult life, so I went straight to the "Holiest of Holies", Auschwitz. I already knew that the current gas chamber at Auschwitz is a Soviet postwar reproduction of the original, but surely with so many photographs of the camp there would be at least one photo of the original gas chamber, which would calm my moral trepidation. I scrolled through photo after photo. I found the discredited photo where smoke rises into the sky behind Hungarian Jews, indicating bodies being cremated. http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/albums/palbum/p00/a0007p2.html I clicked on it to see the larger version and voila, no smoke-just a bunch of people standing around looking at the camera. http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/gallery/pg22/pg0/pg22035.html I read caption after caption telling me that the people standing around or sitting around or standing in line were all waiting to be gassed. I couldn't find a single photo of the original gas chamber nor any evidence that the people in the photos were actually gassed to death.
And then yet another friend sent me yet another gruesome photo. This one was of a young Palestinian man with half of his head blown off. He wasn't standing around or sitting around or waiting in line to be killed. He was dead. Nor could he possibly have died from disease or starvation. Half of his face and skull were missing. He was the victim of an Israeli high velocity bullet. The photo was accompanied by a plea from a Palestinian women's organization, begging for the outside world to help stop the murders.
Just as I finish writing this our country, the United States of America, is in a Constitutional crisis because a handful of Jewish voters in Florida couldn't understand their ballots. This lack of understanding is being hailed as the greatest injustice in US history. Come again? The greatest injustice in US history, over and above slavery?!!! Over and above financing the murder of children in Palestine? The greatest injustice in the history of the United States of America is that 3,400 of 100,000,000 voters couldn't figure out their ballots or think to ask for help?
Stop the world! I want to get off!!!
Before I retreat back into my fantasy world, I will once again ask the question: Why is Israel our friend?
Installed: 07/27/98, 1: 00 AM, PST