What do we really cherish? America absolves itself the same way a smoker convinces himself he’ll never get cancer. In both cases, there is plenty of available information from which the truth of the matter can be gleaned, but that requires more introspection than most of us are willing to endure.
Less than a minute into the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSp-oIOhq00), Sarah Powell utters the unmentionable heresy, “Why do they hate us?” It is a damn good question, she goes on to say, but it is also one we dare not ask. To do so is tantamount to suggesting that the Holocaust does not excuse every brutality, every denial of dignity, every confiscation of property. As long as we avoid that simple question, we avoid our complicity. If we destroy the excuse that war crimes now more than sixty years old justify today’s criminal behavior in the Middle East (that is ironically Nazi-like), then we have to acknowledge the blood on our own hands.
It’s easier to just look the other way, to pretend we don’t see or hear anything. It’s not just in the Middle East, either. How often do we read stories about neighbors and townspeople who ignored the screams of a woman being raped, or a child being beaten, because they didn’t want to get involved? Not getting involved seems to be one of our great cherished traditions, except that in the case of Palestine and Darfur and a thousand other “foreign” points of pain and suffering, our intentional ignorance has international consequences. For the few who do care, the risk of becoming a social outcast, of being called a conspiracy nut, or a bigot, or an anti-Semite is too great. Better to stay curled up in the womb of fuzzy-warm memories of bygone youth and the camaraderie of polite conversation than to break the silence with awkward questions like “Why do they hate us?”
To illustrate how far people who know better will go in their willful denial of what Israel is doing (and has done), take a look at Mike Huckabee. This former Baptist preacher turned governor turned presidential candidate turned professional pundit for Faux News is now in Israel helping a Jewish organization that buys up Arab property in East Jerusalem for West Bank settlers. Huckabee knows better, but his judgment is clouded by ambition and too many peddlers of Apocalypse. As far as I know, he has never visited a Baptist church in Gaza or Israel or Jordan or the West Bank, but he’ll don a beanie and wobble in front of the Wailing Wall in a heartbeat.
I know people who have never lived in the Middle East who “get it” and I’ve met others who lived decades “over there” and are as ignorant about Israel and our complicity as most Americans who have never ventured beyond Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or a fundamentalist pulpit. Go figure…