Over the past few days, we have discussed how the wrong words used in service of advocacy for Palestinian rights may cause offense to some Jewish-Americans. It is right and proper to have this discussion. In the pursuit of a better world, in our search for the right path to a better foreign policy, we should not inadvertently cause harm to our allies and innocents. Nor should we further any form of bigotry.
Let’s also stop for a moment and consider the feelings of Palestinians, Palestinian-Americans and their allies. They have been largely absent from most commentator’s consideration during this week’s debate. By conjunction, let us also consider the feelings of all people our foreign policy has materially harmed and those who feel for them.
How do you think a Palestinian in the West Bank feels when they see Israeli settlers zip past checkpoints they have to stop at when traveling to university in the nearest town?
What do you think a Palestinian in Gaza feels when their home is destroyed by a targeted bomb made in the US? Or when they cannot buy ice-cream for their child’s birthday because none has made it past the Israeli checkpoints? Or when they can’t go to their uncle’s funeral because some bureaucrat refused their permit to travel to the West Bank? Or when their neighbor’s entire family is killed in a “targeted assassination”? Or when their orchards are uprooted and their water diverted?
What do you think a Palestinian feels, when they look around them and see the actual, material, harm being done to their communities day in and day out, by a regime that enjoys virtually unqualified support from the US government?
What do you think they feel when they see more ink spilled in US newspapers and more hours spent on TV talking about tweets and tropes than about hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of children, killed at protests?
What do you think they feel when they compare this outrage over these words, with the faintly discomfited expressions liberals offer to talking heads who casually call their brethren terrorists?
Would they be wrong to conclude that their feelings don’t matter?
Would they be wrong to conclude that their lives don’t matter as much?
And let’s stop for a moment again. Let us broaden our lens further, beyond Israel/Palestine.
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a child fleeing a war funded and supplied by the US, as most wars across the globe are in some form. Would that child be wrong to believe that their feelings, their well-being, nay their life does not seem to matter?
And if that child were ever to enter the halls of the US Congress as a legislator.
Would the moral authority of her outrage not be righteous?
When she expresses solidarity with all children harmed by oppressive regimes our government supports, is that not awesome to behold?
When she calls for justice for the war-torn and those weary of oppression, does that not leave you, whoever you are, awash in feeling as well?