Posted by: rudyruddell | November 27, 2014

Israel/Hamas Compared with Ferguson

Israel/Hamas Compared with Ferguson

My second listening to Chomsky’s speech (http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/22/in_un_speech_noam_chomsky_blasts )  inspired me to write something about Israel and Hamas. Chomsky’s thesis is that the U.S is perpetuating the conflict in the Middle East by supporting and financing Israel’s occupation of Palestine. While I wish Chomsky would have more directly addressed the issue of Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel, he did implicitly did say that Hamas would stop the bombing if Israel would stop the occupation.

This chicken and egg dilemma can be observed in contemporary American racial tensions, as most recently manifested in Ferguson, and the U.S./Israel imprisonment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_of_territories_captured_by_Israel). The US imprisons African Americans in penitentiaries, as outlined in Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Jim_Crow). Israel uses the pretext of self-defense against the crime of shooting rockets at Israel to imprison Gazans. America uses crime as a pretext to jail black people disproportionately, where the crime is often minor and would not result in jail time if it involved white people, e.g. possession of a joint.

This comparison falls apart when you consider that Gaza is a region on the map whereas prisons are spread throughout the U.S. However, the chicken and egg analogy holds up when it is observed that the US claims that the US would stop imprisoning people of color if people of color would stop committing crimes, just like Israel claims they would stop occupying Gaza and violating their human rights if Palestinians would stop bombing Israel. Likewise, African Americans claim they would stop rioting and burning cars and buildings if they were not systematically disenfranchised via the New Jim Crow and omitted from prosperity by historically being excluded from the real estate and quality-education/wealth-building-machine that white people have enjoyed for centuries. Gazans claim they would not launch rockets aimed at Israel if Israel would stop military occupation of Gaza.

How do we stop the endless chicken and egg cycles? The US can stop supporting the human rights violations inflicted on Palestinians by Israel. The US can still be friends with Israel, but like “friends don’t’ let friends drive while drunk,” the US does not need to let Israel violate human rights. While it is granted that Israel needs to defend itself, it is not acceptable that countries of the modern world violate the human rights of innocent people in order to attack militants who threaten them. This is comparable to American oppression of African Americans because of feeling threatened by African American actions that are caused by oppression.

What needs to be done in both situations is for all parties involved to realize the reality of what is happening and the oppressor needs to be compelled to stop violating rights because there is no excuse for violating human rights of innocent people. Simultaneously safeguards must be installed to allay the fears of the oppressor. For example, UN troops could temporarily be responsible for ensuring Israeli security. I realize that the UN has not demonstrated that it has the capability of such a challenge, but, we as a planet need to start to try to learn how to provide such peacekeeping tasks if we are to ever have peace. In order to learn how to do something, you must start trying and begin the process of learning from mistakes.

As to Ferguson, we must stop the war on drugs and begin to treat drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal problem. We need to use more restorative justice (http://www.restorativejustice.org/university-classroom/01introduction)  in the court system and public schools. We need to realize that there is no color-blindness; there are only varying degrees to which we are aware of our racial biases. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/26/us/ferguson-racism-or-racial-bias/index.html).  In other words, we need to look for and try to resolve root causes of problem instead of dealing with the surface issues, which is like sweeping the dirt under the rug instead of into a dust pan.

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Responses

  1. One of the things you wrote really resonated with me, “we need to look for and try to resolve root causes of problems instead of dealing with the surface issues.” This statement is the key to dealing the things that cause “our” inabilities to move forward on issues (pick any issue!). The sweeping you speak of is what hamstrings any forward progress. Most often, we focus on the effect rather than the cause.

  2. As I listen to the prosecutor list the charges against the police officers who have apparently killed Freddie Gray, and as she asks for peace, a peace that contrasts with the violence of the past week, I am again reminded of this Hamas/Ferguson comparison. Although the Baltimore riots were unjustifiable, they were not surprising, given the decades or perhaps centuries of harassment of young black men by police. Nor should should we be surprised at Hamas slinging “unjustified” rockets into Israel. Both peoples are occupied by a military force. Both occupied people’s are justifiably angry and have few legal routes of expressing their anger. Although the counterattacks by these groups were not legitimate, they are real and have real causes and we need to address the root causes, as supported by my friend Ali above. We need to end the war on drugs and treat drug addiction as a public health problem, the way Portugal has successfully done. In tandem, then, we can demilitarized our police forces and install body cameras on all police.


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