Letter to the Chicago Tribune
by David Green

This letter was sent to the Chicago Tribune on June 13, 2020 in response to an article by Stephen Franklin.

Dear Mr. Franklin:

Your report published June 12th seems oddly decontextualized, if not shockingly naive.  For example, you state (6th paragraph) that "Nowhere is the tension greater than in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  where Arabs and Jews live in proximity and the two sides seem locked into an escalation of fear and violence." This is kind of like saying that during WW2, the French and Germans live "in proximity" in Paris.  Obviously, there is more to it in both cases.  The illegal occupation is at the heart of the problem, not simply one tangential aspect of it, although there are other aspects from within both Israeli and Palestinian society that also deserve serious consideration—but always keeping in mind who has been forcefully evicted from their land, and who occupies the land of another.

Israel illegally occupies the West Bank and Gaza and, even given the Palestinian Authority, controls virtually every important aspect of the lives of almost every Palestinian, including issues of birth, life, and death.  Israeli settlers and soldiers not only live in "proximity," but dominate the lives of the Palestinians in countless oppressive ways, as well as appropriating natural resources, especially precious water.  In any 24-hour period, there are many instances—I read about them every day through e-mail newsgroups—of racist harassment, house demolition, land appropriation, orchard burning, and so on, systematically inflicted by settlers and soldiers on innocent Palestinians simply trying to make a living, go to school, go to the hospital, or just live their lives, such as they are.  Your statement gives no indication that you understand the context of the "escalation of fear and violence," which has been going on not since last September, but since 1967, or 1948; take your pick.  The situation is simply—however complicated it may seem in action—a form of colonization, by which one people attempts to control the lives of another, if not simply eliminate them.

The whole tone of this article, with all due respect, gives me the impression that you have not really bothered to research the history or understand the deeper social reality of this conflict.  There are, unfortunately, aggressors and victims in an essential sense.  But you convey a tone of "moral equivalence" between the occupier and the occupied which is completely inappropriate, as if you are talking about two irritable neighbors with a problem over the placement of a fence.  Yes, a five-month old Israel baby was killed, a tragic consequence of the determination of Israeli settlers to create "facts on the ground" that insure Jewish domination of Palestinian life.  His father is pictured, mournful and vengeful, as would be any parent.  Unlike Palestinians, Jews are often given a face and a name in the newspaper.  But this isn't just any parent, it is a parent who has made a choice to place political aggrandisement and religious "ideals" above both justice and personal safety, not just for himself but his innocent child.  Meanwhile, the innocent Palestinian children who die, over 100 in this conflict, go largely unreported and unnamed by your newspaper and the mainstream media.

I will add to this letter a post from one of my e-mail newsgroups that may give you some insight into the everyday experiences of Palestinian people.  But you are there, for goodness sakes.  You should be finding these things out for yourself. [This attachment has not been added to this web posting—webmaster]

By the way, I am an American Jew, and like many others among us, I am calling for an unconditional end to the illegal and immoral occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem.