Unprinted Oped to the San Jose Mercury News
I remember the children
- Shawqi Baghdadi
Yesterday Israeli forces using American F-16s and American missiles killed more children. More children.
This time it was an 18 month old baby, her four-year-old brother and her five year-old sister. Their mother was also killed. She was 27. It was also another mother, thirty years old, and her 4 year old daughter and her six year old son.
It was also a father and his five year old son. It was also a two-month old baby girl and an 11 year old boy.
They had been sleeping. They just never woke up.... I hope.
By the time this piece is printed, it will probably be still more... Over 140 people were injured. Arms and legs were blown off the still-living. Many are in critical condition. Many are in the process of dying.
Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel who no doubt ordered this “air strike” said of its results:
“This operation, in my view, is one of the great successes.”
Mr. Sharon has had many such successes. In October 1953 as commander of Israel’s infamously brutal Unit 101 he led a massacre of the village of Qibya. UN military observers who reached the scene two hours after found “Bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways... Witnesses...described a night of horror, during which Israeli soldiers moved about in their village blowing up buildings, firing into doorways and windows with automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades.” According to an Israeli historian “Seventy corpses were found in the rubble, including dozens of women and children.”
In 1971 Sharon was sent to “establish order” in Gaza, where according to his biographer he conducted “a reign of terror.... Sharon was accused by Palestinian organizations of secretly killing fedayeen who had been captured alive.” Hundreds of refugee homes were bulldozed, over 13,000 people were made homeless.
In 1982 Sharon had another of his “successes.” As Israeli Defense Minister he led the invasion of Lebanon, killing approximately 20,000 men, women, and children. Beirut – the “Paris of the Middle East” that not even Sharon pretended was a military target – was bombed mercilessly, through the illegal use of American weapons. In one day 1,100 mangled limbs were amputated from the civilian population. An American physician described treating “the most hideous group of injuries” she had ever seen.
In 2001 when I spent a month traveling throughout Gaza and the West Bank shortly after Sharon had been elected prime minister, I saw more of his successes. I saw children with bullets in their heads. And in their backs. And in their stomachs. There are many, many, many such children. More by the day.
Sadly, American media rarely report these wounded and killed children. In the three weeks before the most recent suicide bombing, when newscasters were extolling the “relative calm,” 43 Palestinians were killed. Last Wednesday two Palestinian children were killed. We just didn’t read about them.
When Sharon kills Palestinian children, he always claims that this is in “retaliation” for the tragic deaths of Israeli children. He says that he is required to do this for “Israel’s security.”
Let’s look at these claims. In the current uprising over 80 Palestinian children were killed – many by gunfire to the head – before the first Israeli child died. (Remember These Children) Over 140 Palestinians were killed before the first person was killed in Israel. In the first month, 163 Palestinians were killed; 11 Israelis.
In 1980, according to BBC journalist Alan Hart, Sharon swore an oath that “if any government of Israel attempted to withdraw from the West Bank, he would set up headquarters there and fight to the death to prevent it.” Sharon is not fighting for security. He is fighting for the expansion of an ethnically discriminatory entity. The Palestinians are in his way.
American taxpayers – most of us unknowingly – give Israel over $10 million per day. With this money Israel is committing crimes that Americans would be horrified even to see, let alone finance. It is time to keep this money home.
My money – and yours – is empowering actions that history, it is quite clear, will give the legal and horrible definition of “Crimes against humanity.”
Too few people spoke out last time. Let’s not make the same mistake, yet again.
It is time to stop killing sparrows.
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IF AMERICANS KNEW