Tuesday, June 15, 2010

frightant Call to the American People

The compassionate and courageous souls on board the Freedom Flotilla bound for besieged Gaza have earned the love and respect of people all over the world. The tragically fallen ones have left us deeply grieving. Those who supported the attempt to break the cruel and illegal Israeli blockade also deserve our praise and gratitude. The Prime Minister of Turkey clearly stands out with his head high among the world's leaders. By a sudden stroke of destiny, the name of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Turkey has become very dear to the hearts of most people in the world.

But what of Israel? Israel has once again demonstrated to the world that nothing is too mean or low for it. There is nothing new or surprising in Israel's behavior. It can sink to any level in its cruelty, inhumanity and depravity toward the Palestinians and any of their sympathizers. Anyone whose memory is not terribly weak or whose mind is not totally biased will admit this. To write a proper account of Israel's diabolic nature would require a Shakespeare or a Joseph Conrad. Yet the saddest thing is that so many illusions have been held about Israel by so many for so long. It is astonishing that there are still people and states around to defend this arrogant and criminal state. Among these the most outstanding is the US.

At the top of the list of Israel's defenders is the United States of America. To defend Israel it has gone to the ridiculous length of blaming the victims on Mavi Marmara. Again, there is nothing new in this kind of US behavior. Since the time of President Truman, who badly needed Jewish money for his campaign fund, Israel has enjoyed unconditional and unlimited American support of every kind. The only exception was President Eisenhower during Israel's Suez Crisis in 1956. Other than that all Israel's barbarities against the Palestinians have been in partnership with the US. With American material and political support and protection Israel has gotten away with all its crimes. Assured of US protection, Israel has become bolder and bolder and now feels that it can defy all laws, norms and common decency. Without the US, Israel is nothing. So the question is: who is to blame more, Israel or the United States?

There is little joy in pointing the finger of blame, however, and nothing good comes of it. What the world really needs is an awakening of our hearts and open acceptance of everyone's common humanity. I speak out here not to blame, but to lament the atrophy of humanity in an important segment of mankind. At the same time, each of us can try to preserve our own humanity, like those men and women of diverse nationalities who gathered in the Freedom Flotilla, risking everything.

It baffles the understanding how such nice, friendly people like the Americans can be so biased against the Palestinians and so insensitive to their suffering and humiliation. I speak not about American political leaders, most of whom are known to be dependent on Jewish money to run their expensive election campaigns. But in a democracy the citizens have a responsibility to carefully watch their leaders and see what they are doing. If ordinary citizens evade this responsibility, they will share the guilt of their elected leaders. It is time they ask themselves whether they are doing their duty.

Another baffling thing is that so many of the best universities of the world are in America, and yet so few voices are heard speaking out for justice and humanity. One is also tempted to ask what happens to the hearts and souls of those who come out of these prestigious institutions and fill the different organs of public and private institutions. Why is it that Americans are so ill-informed of what is going on in the world? Why is it that accuracy and fairness, which are supposed to be the hallmarks of American journalism, are so noticeably absent from US media reports and commentaries? Have these reputed centers of education really done their work? Have these places made their goal only producing efficient functionaries, forsaking all other ideals of nourishing and nurturing humanity in those who come to them to benefit their lives? If the answer is yes, what a loss to humanity!

The time has come for the world's most powerful country to re-examine its own soul. That will be good for it and good for the rest of the world. But whether their leaders will be courageous enough to do so looks doubtful, at least at the moment. Their leaders are mired in folly, imprisoned in their own ego.

Will the American people also remain indifferent? It's hard to say, but if they woke up and realized how the world yearns for their help in pursuit of justice and peace, it would be a great day for the whole world. For this to happen they have to listen to the voice of their own humanity, refuse to accept the lies and the half-truths offered by their leaders and their media and find out the truth for what it is. The Vietnam war finally stopped the way it did almost exclusively because ordinary American citizens came to recognize the truth and were roused to speak out. Even now, the world has much faith in the goodness of the American people.

People of the United States, you have the ability to do much good, but we also fear that you have an equally great ability to do harm by your indifference or silence. Make your choice. Your leaders need to be led: step forward to lead them to all that is just and humane.


A. K. M. Mohiuddin is a retired university professor of English literature living in Bangladesh

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