What are Americans remembering today? Soldiers killed in war in order to glorify war. Where is the day of remembrance for those killed by soldiers in war, rarely enemies, mostly civilians.
Israel gives us reason to mourn today in its pirate attach of a humanitarian flotilla, ships filled with desperately needed medical, food and educational supplies for Gaza. Israel’s attack is made possible by Americans: the USA granted Israel $3 billion in military aid this year and for every one of the next 9 years to which the House of Representatives just voted to add $205 million in weapons.
While Israel claimed its commando forces were met with clubs and knives, live footage from the flotilla shows the humanitarians on board waving white flags at approaching Israeli forces. Initial reports from a European boat in the flotilla indicate that Israel had opened fire on all boats leaving 16 dead including 6 Turkish nationals and 10 Internationals as well as 50/80 wounded.
Around the world, shock and grief, disbelief and anger mix, while the Unites States, deeply implicated in this attack, remains subdued and mostly silent with gratuitous and vague responses from its president about regretting loss of life.
For Americans who reject US-Israel war bonding, for those around the world better able to feel the pain and express outrage, the true lesson of Israel’s actions today is that these kinds of brutal attacks are, and have been, the everyday life realities of Gazans for the last three years since Israel’s blockade.
But the world did not notice unless Hamas fired some of its home-made missiles into Israel. This attack today is nothing less than the perpetuation of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians begun by Israel in 1948 and continuing today, with support and aid from the United States, where else did those Apache attack helicopters come from for this attack, which brings shame to and complicity on/for all Americans.
We must stand up against US government aid to Israel without which atrocities of this magnitude and endurance could not occur. Shall we, henceforth, mark Memorial Day as a day of remembrance for the attack on the humanitarian Gaza Flotilla until the US stops its military aid to Israel?
KATHLEEN BARRY is Professor Emerita of Penn State University. A feminist and sociologist, she is the author of Female Sexual Slavery, Prostitution of Sexuality: Global Exploitation of Women, and Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist. Here forthcoming book is Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Our Soldiers and Ourselves will be published in September, 2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org