A riveting letter is making its rounds from Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor volunteering in Palestine. In it, Dr. Gilbert describes his first-hand account of Israel’s boots on the ground in Gaza – the sounds of F16s, drones and Apache helicopters, “So much made and paid in and by US,” blended with the screams, the smells, the sight of shivers and blood. He pleads, “Mr. Obama – do you have a heart? I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa … I am convinced, 100 percent, it would change history.”
Like President Obama, I’m complicit in this campaign of aggression in Gaza. We all are. The U.S. is using our money to pay for Israel’s party of death.
U.S. taxes are supporting $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing to Israel in 2014. Thursday, July 17th, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $621.6 million in U.S. funding for the U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Program. According to the Congressional Research Service’s April 11th, 2014 report, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” American taxpayers give Israel’s military campaigns $9.9 million per day – $121 billion in assistance to date.
This money is paying for the destruction of innocence – my tax dollars at work in the massacre of precious children, including a five-month-old baby. I will not be complicit in these crimes against humanity as they’re disguised as self-defense.
It’s a broken record; we’ve heard the lines and the lies before: “We’re only defending ourselves.” This timeless justification for violence has always failed the people. Like Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo, voiced at the Nuremberg Trials, “Naturally the common people don’t want war … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Despite the lessons we’ve learned since Nuremberg, it also appears to work in any era – so long as we allow it. Let’s end this great delusion that serves to justify violence and pad the wallets of wartime elites.
What is happening in the conflict is not self-defense. The best defense for the people is an end to violence, which many believe could be achieved by returning to the 1967 borders, allowing refugees of the Nakba to return home and making honest attempts at collaboration toward resolution and reconciliation. Neither Israel’s nor Hamas’ strategies are directed toward peaceful resolution. Both target and terrorize innocent populations, and any use of violence to achieve political goals is morally wrong. I dare say that the greatest proof that peace is possible is that the war profiting elites are working so hard and spending so much money – our tax dollars – to oppose it.
I will not lose hope, however. More and more of us are speaking out about the abuse of our tax dollars and resisting paying war taxes, such as the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee and War Resisters League. And I implore all of us to join these efforts. Because it’s unlikely that President Obama will take up Dr. Gilbert’s offer to spend a night in Palestine, otherwise things might be drastically different: “Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people … The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death. Please. Do what you can. This, this cannot continue.”
Wim Laven, writing for PeaceVoice, received a graduate degree in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University, is working on a Doctorate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University and has taught courses on conflict and worked on peace projects for more than a decade.