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GASTESSAY (1)
Good Will Towards Who?
Edna Yaghi, November 25, 2002

Even before Halloween was barely over, Americans had already begun to ready themselves for Thanksgiving. Even before American turkeys grace Thanksgiving tables, Christmas decorations, candy and piped Christmas music abound at every shopping center.

It is strange that we, the American people speak of being thankful and of such noble thoughts as peace on earth and good will towards men while at the same time, we speak of a war against the Iraqi people. Also, in the Holy Land, the Palestinian people suffer horrendously and every day, the toll on the civilian population grows heavier.

Where then, is this peace and joy that we claim we promote at this special time of year? Is it that only Americans are entitled to peace on earth and good will towards themselves? Is it that the deaths of others no longer matter to us? Is it that our own holiday seasons are so commercialized that we no longer recognize exactly what we have become? And is it that the American government has become so adept at propaganda that we have stopped thinking clearly about what is right and what is wrong? Have we become conditioned into believing that our government has the right to dictate whatever it wants to to whomever it wants to?

The Iraqi and Palestinian match girls are at our windows freezing in the falling snow and we are so busy with our own festivities and making sure that our banquet tables overflow with a surplus of bounties that we no longer see them or hear them.

Our media continues to remind us that all Palestinians are terrorists, even unborn babies. We continue to believe that children bravely clutching stones and dying for freedom against the Israeli government that we, the American taxpayers support to the tune of more than 97 billion dollars a year, are armed soldiers. We supply the Israelis with tanks, with Apache helicopters, with F-16s, with bulldozers so that the Israeli army can attack Palestinian civilian targets by land, by sea, and by air at all hours of the day and night. Yet, we see no wrong in this. We only become enraged when a few ragged Palestinian freedom fighters dare to die for their people, for their land, for their freedom.

We don't mind it when the Israeli army storms into Palestinian refugee camps and bulldozes homes and leaves either the occupants dead inside of the bulldozed houses or out in the cold without shelter. We don't care when Palestinian farmland is destroyed by Israeli tractors and olive and fruit trees overturned. We don't mind when Palestinians are kept under 24 hour curfews and anyone who dares to put his or her foot outside their door is shot down. We don't even wonder how these Palestinian people are able to support themselves when they are under curfews and when they are surrounded by Israeli tanks and soldiers.

We aren't amazed when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demands that illegal Israeli settlers who have set up their houses on Palestinian land kill Palestinians in their homes, on their way to school, or watching their flocks by night. We simply sit, complacent that we are full and it is not us who suffer.

It does not bother us that every month more than 5000 Iraqi babies die as a result of the sanctions. It is not that we really perceive Saddam Hussein as a cruel dictator, but a man who defies American dictates. We never stop to think that he is not out to harm us or our interests because we have been told that our lives are being threatened if he has weapons of mass destruction. But we don't even wonder why it is ok for Israel to have such weapons and also India. We fail to understand that it is not at all about weapons of mass destruction but rather how can our government topple Saddam so that Iraqi oil can begin to flow into the pockets of our own dictators such as George W. Bush and Rumsfeld.

We continue to bash Islam and Muslims in our hate wars. And everything and anything that goes wrong around the world is immediately blamed on Muslims or Islam. We don't really stop to think that we bombed Afghanistan to near oblivion in order to kill Osama Ben Laden and yet, we are no closer to capturing this elusive man than we were before our bombs were dropped. We will only think of him as a threat to American security when the moment is appropriate but we are not ashamed to admit that with all our technology, with all our money, with all our superior power, we still don't even know where he is or even if he is really responsible for the 9/11 attacks, or even if he is alive or dead. And we don't even care!

It is time we see other people around the world as human beings. It is time that we not only feel sorrow for our own pain but the pain and suffering of others. It is time that we understand what is really happening in Palestine and that at this special time of year, at a time when we speak of peace and joy on earth, Palestinian women, children and the elderly die on a daily basis. It is time that we understand that freedom and justice are not just American commodities for American people, but the inalienable rights of all. It is time that we open our hearts and listen to our consciences. It is time that we open our doors to those little Palestinian and Iraqi match girls whose lives are in danger. It is time that we embrace the true spirit of Christmas before it is too late.