Fight for Palestine: America's response to Gaza is a disaster
Many Americans have immediately sided with Israel amid the recent escalation between the nation and Hamas. By ignoring Palestinian struggles, they're giving merit to genocide and apartheid.
More than 100 protesters marched down North Charles Street in Baltimore Friday night to support Palestinians, calling for a halt to U.S. aid to Israel.
Holding signs also demanding an end to Israeli occupation and apartheid, the group — composed of multiple progressive organizations in the area — lambasted America’s support for Israel after deadly attacks in Gaza in recent days.
Unfortunately, those defending Palestinians during demonstrations in Baltimore and cities throughout the U.S. may be in the minority.
Israel formally declared war against Hamas after the Islamic militant organization, which controls the Gaza Strip, launched a surprise assault last week that left more than 1,300 people dead, the Associated Press reported. There were also 150 hostages taken, including some Americans.
Israel’s response to Hamas’ attacks was to level Gaza, as of Saturday resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000. It also demanded the evacuation of 1.1 million residents, which has widely been seen as impossible.
Even those who attempt to migrate from the open-air prison have been massacred.
To many, the bloodshed is seen as a U.S. ally’s response to a historic terrorist attack in Israel.
In reality, it’s just the most recent development in a decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory, leading to mass genocide and apartheid of the Palestinian people.
There is no doubt that civilian bloodshed on either side is horrible. It’s also clear that Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, does not represent the average Palestinian.
President Joe Biden on Friday seemed to at least halfway grasp this idea.
“We can't lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas,” Biden said. “And they're suffering as a result as well.”
However, those comments came only after Biden peddled unfounded claims that Hamas militants had beheaded babies, forcing him to walk back his statements shortly afterward.
Members of the media also spread those claims before some of them walked it back, demonstrating the consequences of blind support for Israel.
But the damage was already done, and those blasting out conspiracy theories and misinformation in defense of Israel felt vindicated.
In reality, Israel has been the prime aggressor in the conflict, committing a long list of war crimes against the Palestinian people of the West Bank and Gaza for years.
But that doesn’t seem to be the primary narrative in U.S. discourse.
The country’s unwavering support for Israel — bolstered by nearly $4 billion in annual aid — has not only taken place at the national level; it is also rampant among local governments as well.
That includes in Baltimore.
“I, like many mayors across the country, condemn the deadly and horrific attacks on civilians in Israel,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott tweeted Sunday. “Terrorism and violence have no place anywhere in our world. Baltimore will continue to stand with our Jewish community here and across the globe.”
The Baltimore City Council followed suit, releasing a statement from Council President Nick Mosby on Monday.
“Our City Council condemns the heinous and cowardly terrorist acts that have killed over a thousand people, including nine Americans, in Israel in recent days,” Mosby said. “Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have lost their lives in senseless acts of horror. “Terrorism has no place here. Hate has no home here. And our friends in Israel will overcome this dark tragedy.”
Baltimore officials’ support of Israel amid the conflict is nothing new.
Earlier this year, the Jewish Uniformed Service Association of Maryland even went as far as to invite Israeli police to a “unity” event with city officials, Baltimore Jewish Life reported.
If that doesn’t sound problematic enough, Baltimore police have directly received training on crowd control, use of force and surveillance from Israeli forces, Amnesty International, a human rights organization, reported in 2016.
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The city’s renewed focus on supporting Israel following the deadly attacks by Hamas does not seem at first glance to be problematic.
But the issue isn’t that people sympathize with innocent Israeli citizens. It’s that they’re selective with whom they support as the conflict rages on.
They will support Israel in mere seconds when its citizens are killed, but they are completely silent when the same happens to Palestinians.
By largely ignoring the plight of Palestinians, they have ostensibly lent their support to Israeli-sponsored genocide and apartheid.
That may have not been their intention. But that is the undeniable effect these comments have.
It shouldn’t be challenging to acknowledge that, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many actions by these extremist groups are a direct response to decades of foreign interference that caused the deaths of thousands, if not millions, of civilians in the homeland of the “enemy.”
Children in the Middle East, for example, grew up witnessing violence and death at the hands of the U.S. military for the sake of oil.
In the case of Palestine, those children grew up witnessing their homeland being stolen by the Israeli military. They witnessed their families being slaughtered for the sake of land.
So why should anyone be surprised that these violent retaliations, such as what happened last week, occur?
Violence breeds violence. And what we’re seeing now is a perfect example.
The deaths of innocent civilians on both sides are indescribably despairing.
But like the protesters on North Charles Street in Baltimore and those throughout the country, I will choose to stand with Palestine.