Sunday, January 11, 2009

PA Arts Sunday - Part Two -- Some Thoughts on "Operation Cast Lead"

November 1st, 2005. London, UK.

I sat next to Jocelyn Hurndall, whose son, Tom Hurndall, had been murdered in Gaza, by an Israeli soldier. She squeezed my hand tightly, as the ensemble played a dance I had written in her son's memory.

Here is how Tom was shot in the head, according to his father:

[Tom] had seen a group of children playing and had noticed that bullets were hitting the ground between them. Several children had run away but some were "paralysed with fear" and [Tom] went to help them.

Hurndall's father told the inquest: “Tom went to take one girl out of the line of fire, which he did successfully, but when he went back, as he knelt down [to collect another], he was shot.

He survived, but in a coma, for months. Putting it bluntly, dead from lead in his head. For protecting kids from getting whacked. It happened all the time in Gaza during the period 2002-2004.

Right now, it is happening every hour. At least one My Lai - al Zeitun - has been reported in Gaza. As in the My Lai in Vietnam, the reported one was representative of other incidents that have been forgotten.

The London audience was filled with British citizens of all faiths, Palestinians, Israelis, Americans and others. Outside the concert hall, there were thee Jewish demonstrations. Two of them were organized to support the pro-Palestinian concert.

People from the anti-Palestinian demonstration put up a row of signs outside the entrance to the Hackney Empire Theatre. The powerfully evocative signs showed photographs of young Israeli and American women named Rachel, who had been killed by Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel. Some questioned, "Why no music about THESE Rachels?"

Why, indeed? I thought about that a lot through 2006. In early 2007, I had somebody discreetly approach one of the families of one of these Rachels, to see if they might entertain my writing music about their Rachel. My friend was immediately and rudely rebuffed. It has been over four years now, since Zionists jeered me with why I hadn't written about these women. I have not been allowed to write it by one of the families. Who is to write it?

Certainly not the Palestinian students whose music school was destroyed on the first day of the bombing. Certainly not any of the kids traumatized by Operation Cast Lead.

The picture to the left is of Deborah Fink, who organized the concert Tom Hurndall's mom attended, along with hundreds of others. She is one of my many Jewish friends who have written in protest of Operation Cast Lead. Here are links to three of the efforts:

Deborah Fink, along with about 75 other UK Jewish artists and intellectuals, wrote this for Saturday's UK Guardian.

Max Blumenthal, who stayed with Judy and me this late summer, investigating Sarah Palin's ties to international hate cults, and who is an expert on the evils of all kinds of armed religious militarisms, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other, wrote this on January 5th for Huffington Post and others.

Naomi Klein, certainly one of the most important and innovative economic thinkers of the past 25 years, wrote this article for the Nation and others on January 7th: Boycott, Divest, Sanction!

These three young Jewish activists see more clearly than their parents' generation how profoundly Israeli military policies are failing, year after year, expensive campaign after expensive campaign - and - settlement expansion project after settlement expansion project:

Some reading this might think or comment, "The Israelis pulled out of Gaza." The settlers did, but, some are waiing to get back in, right outside the Gaza fences, armed to the teeth:

Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" is reported to have overwhelming support among the Israeli public, but few are as enthusiastic as the former residents of the Israeli settlements in Gaza. As tens of thousands of Israeli troops descend on Gaza in an apocalyptic frenzy, scores of determined settlers are prepared to enter in their wake.

And they appear to have potential help in the IDF:

Settler activists are counting on their historically strong ties to the Israeli military, with some units composed entirely of settlers, to help in their fight. Indeed, some soldiers and reservists currently in Gaza were there three years ago living in cherished settlement communities. On Monday, an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz described the bittersweet reactions of soldiers who had lived in Gaza settlements and are now back in uniform, noting, "Some see it as a first step toward returning to their former homes."

I fear it will be a long time before the children's music school destroyed early in the bombing is rebuilt.

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