On July 31st, Israel missiles struck Qana, a village in Southern Lebanon, flattening apartment buildings over fifty-eight civilians.
Among them, toddler girls with miniature gold earrings and a baby boy with a pacifier around his neck.
They were among thirty four children murdered in their beds along with twelve adult women and a 94 year old man.
There were no U.S. marines helping to find these bodies.
That task was left to relatives who worked to find the remains of spouses, children, siblings and parents.
The people of Qana knew the drill they had done it ten years ago when, during Israel’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ bombing campaign, more than 100 civilians sheltering at a base run by U.N peacekeepers were massacred.
Last Friday, a senior Israeli officer was quoted as saying that Israel was calling up its reservists in order to expand its invasion of Lebanon because lack of consensus on a ceasefire agreement was a clear signal to Israel that the “international community” approved of its war. In Israeli parlance, that “community” has a membership of one: the United States.
What the American government is saying or doing vis-à-vis Ms. Rice is a matter that I cannot quarrel with.
The Bush-Rice team gives $15,139,178 per day to the Israeli military and they have never claimed that they were “on the side” of peace, stability, global solidarity, equity, justice, human rights, and all those other buzz words of the progressive world.
It is that latter group with whom I am concerned.
What however are American progressives doing for the innocents of the world?
Here’s what: support for Israel’s current onslaught (codenamed ‘Summer of Rain’) from all but eight members of the House; biased coverage from National Public Radio; which gave David Horowitz (Jerusalem Post) a voice, but no airtime for Palestinian journalists on the Lebanon issue; silence from MoveOn, the most efficient, well-oiled liberal machine in action, capable of galvanizing progressives from coast to coast to the tune of millions in a single day over its causes.
As for the Democratic Party itself? Does it exist?
I have often consoled myself with that old saying that something is better than nothing at all, and there have been times where indeed I was grateful that I had been spared greater harm.
But there comes a time when one is forced to take stock of all those “better than nothing” compromises.
That day has already dawned twice in my adult life.
First, in 2000, then in 2004 when I could have fought harder for Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, or Howard Dean and instead acquiesced to the will of the Democratic Party.
During these years, I also threw my support behind organizations that I felt were keeping the wolf from my door, or the feds from my phones. MoveOn topped that list.
I wrote the petitions, I signed the checks, I attended the parties, I voted for the ads. I did these things because I believed that MoveOn and by extension the Democratic Party was, by being better than nothing, quite possibly speaking for me.
I was wrong.
MoveOn, no less than the Democratic Party, has an agenda that conceals its racism and Judae-centrism under a veil of supposed commitment to egalitarianism.
MoveOn had, as a source of alternative analysis of US policies one would have to be a political neophyte to imagine that American foreign policy is separate from its domestic policy, and Eli Pariser is no neophyte the obligation to use its power to move the masses of American progressives (who form the bulwark of its membership, may I add), to speak out against the war-fuelled hegemony of Israel.
That MoveOn would, like any corporate lobbying outfit, decide to say nothing about the indiscriminate bombing and invasion by Israel of Lebanon and US support of the same indicates one thing: that it does what is politically expedient, but refuses to push the limits of what US citizens know about US foreign policy, and hence are allowed to feel about the worth of some people versus others.
In the wake of its successes, MoveOn has abandoned its commitment to the progressives who held its hands while it was learning to walk. Organizers always face a question of whether to organize around what their constituents recognize as their self interest, versus being true to the ideals that underlie their mission.
Perhaps those who read this particular forum may feel that my criticism of MoveOn is misplaced. Perhaps they feel that concentrating on saving PBS is enough work for the day. Perhaps they are right. But if that were the case, why do we live in a country pervaded by the same kind of incremental assaults on personal liberties that, left untended and remarked upon, lead to the holocaust? Have we forgotten Kristallnacht that we cannot seem to recognize it when it is being perpetrated in Lebanon?
Let me remind you. During Kristallnacht, 1574 synagogues and more than 7,000 Jewish shops and 29 department stores were destroyed. More than 30,000 Jewish males were taken to Dachau, Buchenwalkd and Sachsenhausen. It is known, this “Night of Broken Glass,” as the official beginning of the holocaust. The Third Reich did not perpetrate these acts under cover of darkness. They did them in full view of its citizens.
People who lack the courage to speak when their neighbor or their sister on the other side of the globe cowering in terror in a shelter in Lebanon is being persecuted do not suddenly gain it when they watch entire populations being incinerated. The blood of those 58 people who were shelled to death in their beds by Israel today is on the hands of those same good people who held their peace and concentrated on simply sheltering a few of the oppressed then. But they should be glad. Now they can wipe a good portion of that blood on our hands. After all, many of them are dead. We are still alive, still have voices and have chosen to remain silent. It is we who support organizations too cowardly to challenge us to examine the consequences of our action and, more importantly, inaction.
Audre Lorde once said, “there are no single-issue struggles because we do not live single-issue lives.” In the end, the big picture is the only one that holds the truth. It’s a picture that organizations like MoveOn and the progressives who are silent today are not merely not seeing, they aren't interested in acknowledging exists.
Eli. Elishama. Your name means God Hears.