Opinion: America and Israel: Eyeless in Gaza


Published: 11-05-2023 6:00 AM

Robert Azzi is a photographer and writer who lives in Exeter. His columns are archived at theotherazzi.wordpress.com.

‘Mr. Azzi, I will personally pay for a one way ticket to the Muslim controlled country of your choice. Any one of them. Wanna go? Thought so, terrorist sympathizers are the lowest form of human life and deserve to live together in terror!”

“... Azzi’s anti-semitic hatred of Jews comes through LOUD and CLEAR.”

The sentiments quoted above, reflecting a willingness for people to flaunt their prejudices and ignorance in public, is nothing new. Many Americans are being marginalized, threatened, and in some cases fired for espousing views contrary to an institutionalized narrative, particularly as they reflect upon the most recent conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Particularly as they might, while condemning Hamas’ war crimes, express sympathy for the plight of Palestinians under occupation and who might wish to historically contextualize the narrative of two peoples in one land.

Such prejudice is not limited just to troglodytes and ideologues but appears to have infected much of the American body politic, most of whom appear to insist on viewing and interpreting Palestinian and Arab culture and interests through the eyes of colonizers and their agents.

America has a long tradition of having supported Israel and its military, both in the private and public sectors and now, it appears to me, that Israel’s supporters are using today’s conflict in Palestine to further cripple and crush Americans who dissent from the official white American narrative espoused by Biden / Blinken / Netanyahu.

Through such a prism it is not a surprise to hear former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when challenged by activists demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, respond by saying it would be a “gift” for Hamas. “People who are calling for a ceasefire now, don’t understand Hamas. That is not possible.”

I wonder how many of the survivors of the over 9,000 Palestinians who have already been killed in Gaza feel they’ve been “gifted”?

Through such a prism it is not a surprise that when New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas was contacted by a constituent, similarly advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza, he responded by sending a nearly 500-word exercise in dissimulation that reads as though penned by one of Israel’s channels of public diplomacy (Hasbara).

Pappas’ response, in part, reads “... The news of the vicious coordinated attacks on innocent Israelis has been horrific and heart-wrenching... This kind of hate-fueled brutality and the antisemitic platform Hamas espouses cannot go unanswered... I stand with the people of Israel and denounce these ongoing terrorist acts in the strongest possible terms. I remain committed to supporting Israel, our steadfast democratic ally, and its right to defend itself and ensure the safety of its people ...”

There is no denying that Hamas’ attack on October 7th were barbaric war crimes and there is no denying that Israel, as any sovereign state, has a right to defend its citizens.

There is also no denying that as the occupying power in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as understood by international law, Israel not only has an obligation to feed and protect the people whom they are oppressing and subjecting to occupation but are obligated not to dispossess those whom they occupy from their homes and lands.

In 2018 I advocated in local newspapers, “... I’m voting for Pappas not just because he’s a successful fourth generation Greek-American businessman ... Pappas is here because America has historically honored the experience of immigrants who arrived as huddled masses, tired and poor, yearning to breathe free ...”

Today, I was less surprised after I discovered that two of Pappas’ top five most generous donors were the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, and its affiliated Pro-Israel America PAC.

Today, it appears that Pappas has no desire for Palestinians “to breathe free.” I may have to vote for Pappas again, but I won’t be endorsing him.

I’ve been challenged by friends lately that I’ve said I have no hope and I see no reason to change that opinion.

Let me temper that.

If, as may be emerging, a younger generation that relies less on white institutional media takes charge with different perspectives, our world may be transformed for the better. I would welcome a more globally aware, better informed, less assimilated and more diverse and pluralistic community, one that embraces the Other, embraces equity and social justice.

One not blinded by reflections in the mirror of the colonizers.

In 1996, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl challenged UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, “We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died (because of sanctions following Desert Storm.) I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

“I think that is a very hard choice,” Albright answered, “but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”

Half a million children dead, for all to witness.

How many Palestinian children — who are 50% of the population of Gaza — women and men have to die, be sacrificed for all to witness, to be worth it?