Day 39 of the Assault on Gaza: Its amazing how the absence of air strikes and tank shelling allows one to think clearly. While taking advantage of the lull in violence, an opportunity to broaden the scope of this story came from a most unexpected source. Palestinians in Gaza were tweeting advice to Americans in Ferguson Mo. on how to deal with tear-gas.
Apparently, they had gotten wind of the tragic killing of an unarmed 18 year old Black male and wanted to help in any way they could. Likely the most oppressed people on the planet, if anybody can tell you how to survive street protest and demonstrations, it would be a Palestinian resisting the Occupation.
Rajai abuKhalil, a Palestinian doctor, activist and co-founder of Physicians for Palestine, tweeted that the tear gas being used in Ferguson was probably the same as that used against Palestinians in Gaza. Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian student at Birzeit University, tweeted some serious tips for those hit with tear gas: Solidarity with #Ferguson. Remember to not touch your face when teargassed or put water on it. Instead use milk or coke!
How these people found time to share someone else’s pain was stunning, considering the living hell they’re currently facing. Yet, with tanks poised on their borders and trigger happy Israelis at the ready, the Palestinian found a way to reach out to others.
Most would think the mad crazy scramble for food, water and shelter would be uppermost in their minds. Most would think tending the wounded and preparing for the next ceasefire failure would consume their every thought. Most would have though they’d be thinking of themselves. We could learn a lot from the Palestinians. And we did, but not what you would think!
Many parallels can be drawn from the Israeli Occupation and the way minorities and lower income classes in America are managed. We too are facing an Occupation just as oppressive and offensive as that of the Palestinian. When Americans do exercise their rights to free speech and freedom to assemble, its only tolerated up to a point. When Americans decide its time to seriously challenge authorities to remember who they’re sworn to serve and protect, they are reminded in no uncertain terms, how limited those rights really are.
The United States government not only militarized law enforcement nationwide, but given these para military policing units the authority to kick in our doors, go though our pockets on the street, stripe search us for minor offenses, read our mail, monitor our calls, track our movements, review our banking activities, profile us based on race, religion and ethnicity, while demanding proof of citizenship on a moments notice and more.
Bottom line: The United States hasn’t protected America as much as its been policing Americans for decades. Save for a few travel privileges, its easy to see the behaviors of an occupying presence here in our communities. The United States government can do all of the above and worse, without even a warrant or a reason. While the American’s cage may be gilded, reality reveals, we’re all living like Palestinians in one way or another.