by Cindy Hasz
American Reporter Correspondent
San Diego, Calif.
June 24, 2002
MIDDLE EAST CHILDREN NEED SHELTER FROM BLOODSHED
SAN DIEGO -- Near midnight on this side of the world, the Israeli Defense Force sends out an emergency call for reservists to join the battle against militant Palestinians. A similar call goes out to Palestinian fighters.
No one knows how many of them respond, but by morning, some 1,000 Israeli soldiers will have enlisted to fight what Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron says will be a "crushing and decisive offensive" against the enemy. In mosques and small, crowded rooms on the West Bank, equally passionate and apocalyptic calls to jihad are undoubtedly being made.
Meanwhile, most of the Western world has heard about Avishai Shabo, age 5, living in the hills near Nablus, and her two brothers, Tzvika, 12 and Neria, 15, who along with their mother Rachel were gunned down this evening in their own home by yet another Palestinian seeking martyrdom amid rivers of Jewish and Palestinian blood.
In the settlement, whose very existence was opposed by three U.S. presidents and outlawed by two Israeli-Palestinian treaties, 500 families had not yet finished the shloshim, a month of mourning, for three teenage rabbinical students who were recently murdered while playing basketball. Meanwhile, Palestinian funerals roil the communities of the West Bank on a dfail;y basis, most unnoticed unless more Palestinians die in confrontations with the Israeli army.
The slaughter goes on and on, and so does the hand-wringing about Israeli expansionism and the necessity of a Palestinian state. After talking with an old friend tonight, I found myself thinking of the situation of Native Americans in our own country.
How would most Americans take it if there were Native American suicide bombers taking out non-Native Americans because of injustices suffered by them as they were eclipsed by this country's mostly European immigrants and the vision of a "manifest destiny"?
We're not talking about Wounded Knee, or stand-offs on the Rosebud reservation, but buses blowing up in New York City and Los Angeles. Children and mothers slaughtered in their own homes like the Shabos or the teenagers playing basketball.
I doubt there would be much sympathy for the sons and daughters of Crazy Horse, Geronimo or Sitting Bull after such depredatiions. American force would be used decisively and without any heed paid to the input by the international community. But as American soldiers obliterated whole Native American communities with bulldozers and killed hundreds of innocent civilians while forcing many into a state of near-starvation and denying the whole population access to their jobs and homes in response, that tide might quickly shift. Abhorrence for terrorism would quickly morph into sympathy and concern for largely unarmed Native American victims facing a vastly superior, heavily weaponized military force.
After talking with a long-lost friend and Apache evangelist-cum-medicine man this evening, I found myself thinking these thoughts. Allen lives on the San Carlos Apache Reservation just East of Globe, Ariz. San Carlos, like most non-gambling Indian reservations, is a poor place by the white man's standards.
Fondly, I remember Valencia, Allen's wife, proudly making fry bread, and driving us down dirt roads in her black and white 56 Ford Victoria. Digging for the green gemstones called peridots in the red earth of a quarry outside of town, and listening to Allen preach the most powerful sermon I've ever heard in a little wooden church where family animals were as much part of the congregation as the people.
There was talk of liberation as the hot summer winds spoke in tongues unknown to the Cottonwood trees outside the church of spiritual liberation, the peace of forgiveness, and release from the epic wars of existence. Valencia smiled at me as she sang the old hymn about a mansion "just over the hilltop."
Valencia has long since gone on to her mansion just over the hilltop, while Allen - great, great grandson of a legendary Apache warrior - still travels this world, though of late with a bleeding ulcer, preaching the good though elusive news of peace on earth and goodwill towards men - especially towards people who've spitefully used them.
I've known members of the Hopi, Navajo, Sioux and Iroquois tribes from all over the United States and Canada. Eskimo and Tarahumara from northern Mexico, all who came to stay at Mt. Elden, an inter-tribal Conference Center at the base of the San Francisco Peaks to the south of the Grand Canyon.
Why were these Indians not bitter or hopeless or inflamed by an obsession with their own version of jihad against the white man? They easily could be. But fact is, though there were exceptions, these people were not militant and fatalistic like the Palestinians we see in daily detonations of human flesh.
It isn't because the Native American peoples have not suffered terribly. Unemployment, alcoholism and despair still rage like wildfires on most all their reservations. And lest we forget, they did fight the Indian Wars that wiped out much of their population, and suffered even more terribly through the occupation of their lands that followed. But who is to say they should not have resisted, whatever the price?
I am not sure what it is in the culture or religion of militant Islamic fundamentalism that lends itself to a powerless "will to power," but I am certain that is something deeper than mere victimology.
I feel deeply for the plight of the Palestinian people. But especially I grieve for the children, Israeli and Palestinian alike. I wish we could declare "time out" and take all the children to a safe place, while crazy, hyper-religious young adults who've been suckled on Islamic and Israeli fundamentalistism blow up the future.
But where on earth is there such a safe place? And where are the people strong enough to take them there?
But meanwhile, while such cruel questions go unanswered, who in their right mind can say that Israel or Palestine must tolerate this continual slaughter of innocent civilians?
We would not tolerate such carnage in the streets of our cities or within the walls of our homes. Neither would the European countries who most forcefully condemn both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for acting in self-defense.
Cindy Hasz is a writer living in San Diego. She can be reached at email@example.com.