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Our Pillar of Shame

Four star dinners and nights at the theater and Christmas cards and prime time sitcoms and hand tailored suits and political fundraisers with fancy hos d’oeuvres and awards brunches and rallies before God cannot hide the fundamental savagery of humanity.

Watching from thousands of miles away, I am distraught at that barbarity on display in the Gaza strip, by both sides, although it is clear that Israel’s cruelty is far more potent and deadly.

What shatters me more is reading about politicians who openly support such viciousness and cruelty in the name of our ally, Israel. The Hartford Courant’s headline this morning read: “Hundreds Gather in West Hartford to Show Solidarity with Israel.

To show solidarity with what? Mass murder? With an Israeli minister who promises a “shoah” – the Hebrew word for Holocaust and disaster? With Connecticut’s arms industry that facilitates the slaughter of men, women, children – families?

As of the writing of this column, Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10 a.m., Israel is winning the killing count in its latest offensive into the Gaza Strip – called Pillar of Defense.  The IDF has killed 109, mostly civilians, many children, and there are almost 1,000 injured in the past seven days of war.

Hamas, no civilized entity itself lobbing its rockets into Israel, has killed maybe 10. The only solid number I can get is three, and that is not for want of looking for information. Neither side is saintly here, although one side is spilling a lot more blood, and it happens to be America’s ally.

By the time this column is printed on paper tomorrow, there may be a cease fire. But that does not change the shame I feel at seeing delight and patriotism expressed at ripping America’s enemy limb from limb. Days like these, I do not feel American; I feel human, with no nationality, and deeply sad.

When I read Haaretz, an Israeli daily newspaper  – which has a more wide ranging discussion of the Israeli military offensive than our papers – the consequences of Hamas rockets usually read like this:

“9:37 A.M. Gaza militants fired 37 rockets into southern Israel on Tuesday morning. One man was lightly hurt.

“10:31 A.M. Rocket causes damage to house in Be’er Sheva, no casualties. More than 40 rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday.”

When Haaretz reports about Israeli military strikes in Gaza, the impacts of the Israeli Defense Forces are far more insidious:

“10:58 A.M. Palestinians report 5 killed and 10 wounded in IDF strikes in Gaza.”

“2:51 P.M. According to the IDF, Israel attacked 11 terror cells in Gaza. At least five people were killed during the strikes.”

How do our politicians respond? Sen. Richard Blumenthal at the rally in West Hartford (thanks to the Courant): “”Make no mistake, our national interest is at stake in this crisis. It’s not just Israel that is in peril.”

What peril? I’m not seeing the threat to Hartford from rockets that fall hit empty buildings in Israel. But, don’t let that stop you Congressman John Larson, United Technologies Corporation needs its profit from helicopter gunships. And yes, the IDF buys American – Sikorsky!

Rep. Larson at the same rally Monday night: “Let the word be known throughout the world that there will be no light between the United States of America and its greatest ally, Israel.” You’re right Congressman, this is a dark day for all of us.

The real laugher would be funny if it wasn’t so absurd: the Courant reported that “Several speakers focused on ways members of the local Jewish community can lobby lawmakers to endorse Israel’s military stance.”

As if the American-Isreali Political Affairs Committee already doesn’t have enough sway in Congress? As if Democrats and Republicans can’t hoist Israel’s flag high enough and fall over each other fast enough in praising Israel to get elected. It’s sickening. Have we no ability to be critical?

Perhaps the most pious and self-righteous and delusional comment in praise of drone-inflicted death came at the “We Stand with Israel: An Evening of Solidarity” rally, which drew a standing-room only crowd, came from Judy Singer, of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Singer “drew applause” the Courant wrote, for her statement:  “Israel has both the right and the duty to protect its civilians and respond to these constant and unprovoked attacks from Hamas.”

And what about Hamas? Does it have a duty and a right to protect Palestinian civilians from Israel’s incursions? The cycle of violence never ends this way, since the logic runs both ways.

But when blinded by the evils of theocracy and religion and patriotism, it is hard to see the enemy’s point of view. Which side has God on its side? Who cares?

The Palestinian man who lost 11 of his family members – his wife, his daughters, his mother in law – said this was God’s will. How? If it was Israel’s God, which is actually Palestine’s God – since Yahweh and Allah are the same God.

And in West Hartford, cheering crowds with a mob mentality cannot acknowledge the enemy as human. The bloodlust oozes from this high school pep rally like war was a Friday night high school football game and not the destruction of sacred life.

I don’t know Judy Singer. She appears to be an upstanding citizen. Last month, a donor brunch in Avon honored her as the Hannah G. Solomon Woman of the Year from the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Hartford Section.

The picture of Singer accompanying the story in the Jewish Ledger shows a well-dressed woman with an expensive scarf and jacket and a fancy bejeweled pin on her lapel.

The article said “Singer worked to ban drive-through mastectomies and birth deliveries, defeat mergers of Catholic hospital practices with public hospitals, defeat late term abortions, support same sex partners and ultimately same sex marriage bills.”

So how is it that she can justify the barbarity of using jet fighters on people armed with rocks? How is that she leads a rally calling for more death and destruction in Gaza?

Palestinians don’t support same sex marriage, so drone attacks are ok? Islamic hospitals don’t provide abortions, so let’s bomb them? Isn’t a human right for one a human right for all? I am so deeply troubled by our mental gymnastics that allow us to support life here, but take it away half a world away.

I know if I talked to Judy Singer, she and I would have a lot in common. We would agree about many things. Perhaps even the universal right to health care – so long as it doesn’t apply in Gaza?

But when it comes to the sanctity of life, she apparently gives no quarter, whereas I subscribe to non-violence. If, as Robert Fisk said, war is the total failure of the human spirit, then the American/Israeli predisposition towards military action in Gaza discards all that is human about us.

So, to those of cheering warfare and its “victories” and its positive economic impacts in Connecticut (“Keep the Eagle Flying”), keep your broaches and your museums and your illusions and your luxury cars and your Congressional voting records and your silk ties and your eggs benedict with salmon and capers.

I’d rather be naked and cold and hungry, searching for our lost souls.

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