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Of Gorillas and Palestinians

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On May 28, a 3-year-old child somehow entered a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. After being picked up by a 17-year-old gorilla, zoo officials felt the child was in immediate, mortal danger and the gorilla was quickly shot and killed. The child was unharmed.

This is certainly a sad story; the gorilla was of a rare breed, and in picking up the child, was only doing what such animals do: it saw a curiosity, and went to explore it. Zoo officials say they had no choice but to kill the animal, because the child was at great risk.

There has been much discussion about this situation. There were initial news stories, with continual follow-ups; commentary from experts and the general public, etc. There is much anger directed at the zoo, with many people weighing in to say the gorilla was helping, and not harming, the child, and that zoo officials over-reacted. Anonymous hackers have attacked the zoo. As evidence of the publicity and interest this situation garners, a Google search of the combined words ‘”Harambe”, the name of the gorilla, and “Cincinnati Zoo” brings up nearly 1,000,000 results.

A Google search of the combined names, “Nadeem Nawara” and “Mohammad Salameh”, however, brings up only 472 results. After all, who are these people, and why should anyone care about them? These were two Palestinian youths, shot by Israeli forces in 2014. Now this is nothing new; Israeli terrorists (also known as IDF soldiers, or Israeli Defense Forces), kill unarmed Palestinians on an almost daily basis. What is different is that these murders were recorded on camera, much like the shooting of Harambe, the gorilla. Yet there is no outcry about these crimes; certainly nothing to compare to the shooting of a gorilla. While Twitter is practically overwhelmed with mentions of ‘#Harambe’, one finds very few results when searching for #NadeemNawara or ‘#MohammadSalameh’.

This is the typical narrative, as fostered by the news media, which is in the pocket of the U.S. government.

The death of the gorilla certainly has many considerations: from an environmental standpoint, it was a rare species, and the entire breed is endangered. There are security concerns: how was a toddler able to enter the gorilla’s pen? The child’s parents are being investigated, to see if abuse or neglect charges should be filed. Police are also investigating the numerous death threats the child’s family has received.  All this is being done under the microscope of public scrutiny.

Yet human victims of Israeli barbarism are ignored. Mr. Nawara, 17, and Mr. Salameh, 16, ‘hanging out’ together as teenage boys do, watching a protest against Israel but not involved in it, unarmed and unthreatening, were leaving an area which Israeli soldiers had entered. Both young men were shot in the chest with rounds of live ammunition.

Israeli policy states that live ammunition is only to be used against stone-throwers when Israeli terrorists (IDF soldiers) consider there is an immediate danger to their lives. It is remarkable to consider that heavily armed terrorists, with U.S.-government provided weaponry, helmets and other protective gear, would ever consider the throwing of a stone to jeopardize their lives. However, that is reasonable and logical in the unreasonable and illogical thought-process of Zionism. So Israel claimed, against solid evidence to the contrary, that no live ammunition had pierced the chests of these young men, autopsy reports be damned.

Additionally, the youths were between 650 and 820 feet from the soldiers who shot them. If Palestinian youths, from that distance, are able to throw stones so accurately and with such power as to jeopardize the life of a heavily-armed and armor-protected soldier, all of the baseball leagues in the world should be actively recruiting pitchers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel, of course, that bastion of democracy in the Middle East, launched its own investigation, which ‘proved’, at least to its own satisfaction and that of the U.S., that its soldiers were justified in these killings, while it denied the use of live ammunition. Facts are not a prominent consideration when Israel investigates itself.  How careful, one might ask, is the fox when investigating whether or not it raided the henhouse? Israel refuses to participate in any external investigations of its ‘alleged’ crimes, preventing United Nations representatives from entering Palestine to interview residents, claiming that its own investigations are sufficient. But what is any of that, when the victims are Palestinians?

The United States is currently plodding towards it quadrennial display of faux-democracy, that time when about 60% of eligible voters (in a good year), actually cast their ballots for either Tweedle-Dum or Tweedle-Dee, resulting, despite the enthusiastic cries of those who voted for the winner, in the nation and the world simply meeting the new boss, same as the old boss.

This year, the ‘presumptive’ Republican candidate, blowhard billionaire Donald Trump (does anyone besides this writer find it absolutely incredible that Donald Trump is to the be the Republican candidate for president? Donald Trump!) used the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) conference in March to hone his Israeli credentials, and fawn all over that rogue nation.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, who has fixed the system to all but ensure her coronation as that party’s nominee, is arguably more supportive toward Israel than any past president or candidate. Her ability to overlook violations of international law and human rights is astounding. Her opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, actually had the audacity to suggest that Israel isn’t always right in its policies and actions, despite his long support for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. So while he has, perhaps, thrown a bone to Palestine, he cannot be seen as its savior.

But let us consider really important issues: should the Cincinnati Zoo have killed a gorilla that was possibly threatening a child? Or let’s all discuss Caitlyn Jenner, who is to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, to mark the 40th anniversary of her victory at the Olympics, long before transitioning from Bruce to Caitlyn. Or what new movie earned the most money at the box office last weekend? With all this to occupy our vapid minds, what time do we have to think of murdered Palestinians? After all, we don’t see much about them on the news, so what importance can they possibly have?

Because of the corporate-owned media’s dedication to Israel, and the powerful AIPAC lobby that owns the U.S. Congress, social media must fill the information gap. The trend to do so is ever-increasing, as was evidenced during Israel’s genocidal bombing of the Gaza Strip two years ago.

Yet those invested in social media must remember that the suffering of the Palestinians is ongoing; it must be reported all the time, so public opinion can continue to evolve away from blind acceptance of government pronouncements, toward justice and equality. It is happening, and human-rights activists around the world must work to ensure its continuation.

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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