I generally stay off this issue, but as the bombing in Gaza continues to worsen and the Los Angeles Times insists on printing blatantly one-sided accounts, like this one, to supposedly inform us, it is time to offer a few counterweights.
(Note to LA Times reporter Michael Muskal: When writing a “primer” about the “key factors behind” any given conflict, like, say, the violence being rained down on Gaza, it is generally considered comme il faut to actually present the “factors” affecting both sides of the conflict, not to merely offer a justification for the side with which you agree, which is activism masquerading as journalism.)
To put a bit more of a human face on the situation, here is an essay written on the second day of the bombing by Dr. Akram Habeeb, Assistant Professor of American Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.
As a Fulbright scholar and professor of American literature at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), I have always preferred to keep silent about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I always felt that it was my mission to preach love and peaceful coexistence. However, Israel’s massive offensive against the Gaza Strip has spurred me to speak out.
Last night, during the second night of Israel’s unprecedented attack on Gaza, I was awakened by the deafening sound of intensive bombardment. When I learned that Israel had bombed my university with American-made F-16s, I realized that its “target bank” had gone bankrupt. Of course Israeli politicians and generals would claim that IUG is a Hamas stronghold and that it preaches terrorism.
As an independent professor, not affiliated with any political party, I can say that IUG is an academic institution which embraces a wide spectrum of political affinities. I see it as prestigious university which encourages liberalism and free thought. This personal point view might seem to be biased; therefore, I would invite anyone who would doubt about my assertions to browse IUG’s website and research its history. They would learn about its membership in various international academic institutions, the active role its professors play in scholarly research as well as prizes and research grants they have received.
Why would Israel bomb a university? Israel did not only target my university last night. It also bombed mosques, pharmacies and homes. In Jabaliya refugee camp Israeli bombs killed four little girls, sisters from the Balousha family. In Rafah they killed three brothers, aged 6, 12 and 14. They also killed a mother, along with her one-year-old child from the Kishko family in Gaza City ….
And then there is this from Italian journalist, Vittorio Arrigoni, who has been writing from Gaza:
…By bombing the central police station in Al Abbas in the city centre, the neighbouring elementary school was also seriously damaged by the explosion. It was the end of the school day and the children were already in the street. Most of their flapping sky-blue aprons were splashed with blood. When bombing the Dair Al Balah police academy, some dead and wounded were also recorded from the market nearby, Gaza’s central market. … I saw many corpses in uniforms in the various hospitals I visited – I knew many of those boys. I greeted them every day when I met them in the street on my way to the port, or walked to the central cafÃƒÂ© of an evening. I knew several of them by name. A name, a history, a mutilated family. The majority were young, around eighteen or twenty, mostly without political leanings, not with Fatah nor Hamas, simply enrolled into the police force once they had finished university in order to have a secure job in Gaza…. [According to a UN report released this past July, the unemployment rate in Gaza Strip is at 45 percent, the highest in the world.]
I haven’t seen any terrorists among the victims today, only civilians and policemen. Exactly like our own local police agents, the Palestinian policemen massacred by the Israeli bombings could be found every day of the year pacing the same city square, supervising the same street corner or road. Just last night I poked fun at a couple of them for the way they were cloaked up against the cold, in front of my house. I want the truth to redeem some of these dead. They’d never fired a single shot against Israel, nor would they have ever done so – it wasn’t in their job description to do so. They acted as traffic wardens, took care of internal security.
….I own a video camera, but today I discovered what a terrible cameraman I am. I can’t bring myself to film mangled bodies or faces drenched in tears. I just can’t. I start crying myself. The other international ISM volunteers and I went to the Al Shifa hospital to give blood. That’s where we received a call informing us that Sara, a dear friend of ours, had been killed by a piece of shrapnel near her home in the refugee camp of Jabalia. A sweet person, a sunny soul, she had gone out to buy some bread for her family. She leaves 13 children behind…..
FYI: Today, Tuesday, there will be a rally at the Westwood Federal Building at 3:30 p.m.. The rally has been orgainized to protest the ongoing bombing of Gaza.
The rally is being sponsored by an LA-based group called LA Jews for Peace.