Moral responsibility, introspection and Palestine

Richard Haarbauer

On Dec. 27, 2008, the latest Israeli attack on Palestinian nationalism was undertaken. The first bombing took place around noon in Gaza City, the time of day when the greatest number of civilians, particularly children, are out in the streets and thus easy to murder in large numbers. Within moments, 230 Gazans were dead and would be joined by thousands of others in the weeks that followed.

The slaughter was made possible by people like you and me who ensure Israel’s possession of the most sophisticated and destructive military equipment ever produced in the history of our species. This equipment is made here in the United States by privately owned corporations.

These institutions receive funding from us, the taxpayers. The technology is then sold to various places around the world, largely Israel. The people who paid for the production, again, you and I, have literally no input aside from our money in any of this. If you think I’m kidding, you must not be familiar with the concept of American “democracy.”

There is an implicitly understood and strictly obeyed law in western journalism that requires that any time any reference is made to Hamas, they must be termed Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the eradication of Israel. The wide-ranging compliance with this reflexively constructed convention is highly instructive.

Israel not only states in words that it is dedicated to the eradication of the Palestinians, but it carries out campaigns of indiscriminate violence and unremitting annexation in order to achieve this goal, all with crucial U.S. backing. As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed the U.S. Congress in 2006, “I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land.”

Israel receives over $5 billion (from U.S. tax-payers) annually in military and economic aid from the United States, according to reports by the Congressional Research Service. Supposing journalists are interested in any kind of fairness, they may wish to start referring to Israel as U.S.-backed Israel, which is dedicated to the eradication of the Palestinians. Compliance with this convention would require minimal self-honesty; thus it is unthinkable.

It is the most basic of all moral principles that we are responsible for our own behavior and therefore should constantly be engaging in introspection and self-criticism. This was the core teaching of the philosopher whom about 80 percent of this country claims to follow.

Those who reject Jesus’ moral teachings, such as DKS columnist Steve Ontko, are quite obviously more comfortable pointing fingers at others, such as Iran and Hamas, than they are with self-examination. Such hypocrisy is nothing new: Jesus was vigorously condemning it over 2,000 years ago.

If we want to be even mildly serious, and it has been made abundantly clear that Ontko and the media that he regurgitates weekly do not care to be, we should focus on what the United States is doing. That’s us. That’s our responsibility.

The U.S. government was integral in the murderous Israeli campaign that killed or injured over 6,000. Rather than concocting preposterous justifications for the slaughter of innocent Palestinian women and children, we should be challenging the power structures that carried out this mass murder and examining ways in which such flagrant acts of terror can be prevented. Pushing Obama to consider the long-standing internationally accepted solution to the Israel/Palestine problem is a good start.

Come check out a Palestine Awareness Week event for further discussion.

Richard Haarbauer is a senior political science and philosophy major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.