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End the bloodshed

Ronald Mitchell
End the bloodshed
“What is going on is a shame.” “We all need to coexist.”

What happened to Israel on Oct. 7 was an unspeakable tragedy, and there is no justification for it. What happened in Gaza since then is also unacceptable. The loss of civilian lives is inexcusable and not justified, as either a resistance to oppression, as Hamas claims, or the right of self-defense, as the Israel Defense Forces contends.

News that a slow removal of some IDF troops has started from Gaza is welcomed. It’s time for a ceasefire to be put in place to allow real humanitarian assistance to flow to Gaza, and it is long overdue that every hostage taken by Hamas be released immediately.

There is such a complex and convoluted history to Israel and Palestine that it would take far too many words to adequately describe in one editorial. From our point of view, all life is precious and must be protected. When the words “never again” are spoken, it must include “never again” for anyone.

As African Americans, we are in a unique position to relate to strife, as historically we have been victims of oppression, subjugation and near genocide, as have both the Jewish and Palestinian people.

We all could live our whole lives treating the world as guilty until proven innocent in our collective punishment. We all have lived in fear at one point or another looking over our shoulders wondering when the next violent act against us might occur. We all have trust issues with others outside our group and question whether so-called friends might betray us.

We have much in common. Though we have very different histories, we have all landed in a similar place. For those of us from the African diaspora, we were excluded from Western history from the very beginning, a footnote possibly in the Bible as the condemned offspring of Ham. The Jews were God’s chosen and, in the Bible, referred to as a stiff-necked people who stuck together, built strong cultural traditions and followed the law.

Palestinian origins are a bit less clear. The Palestinians were the inhabitants of the Holy Land under the Ottoman Empire and once that was dissolved, it became through a British mandate Palestine. Palestinians are culturally and linguistically Arab, and they are both Muslim and Christian. As a population they have also lived in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and have histories of persecution in those countries.

We share a history of being the “other.” For Jews and Palestinians, it has been a choice to keep their traditions, rituals and ethnicity. The African diaspora had no such luxury. Our ancestors were kidnapped, enslaved and raped, and our histories and cultures erased by the dominant Western culture. But despite the history and the continued oppression and victimization of African Americans, we have always said no to resorting to terrorism.

The land of Palestine had that “live as one” atmosphere before World War I and World War II. Arabs and Jews and the religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity all lived together side by side. The original Jews and Arabs of the Holy Land are closer genetically than the Jews that have lived in the European diaspora and have returned. When European Jews arrived from war-torn Europe, they wanted a nation of their own and fought for it, and that’s when the tensions in the Middle East flared up.

As mentioned, the history is long. What is important is that the killings must stop. Hamas’s terrorist attacks and the Israelis’ bombings of Gaza show they do not care about innocent lives.

All hostages must be released, a ceasefire must be put in place now, and walls between Palestinian territories and Israel must come down.

Palestinians must be allowed to move freely within Israel, settlers must be prevented from stealing more Palestinian land, democracy in Israel must include Palestinians, and both sides must be brought to the negotiating table to create a one-state solution where ancestral cousins can live together in peace under the God of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad.

As Gandhi was believed to have said “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.” This is the plain and simple truth that we as Black Americans accepted a long time ago. It’s time we let this truth guide all leaders to create a new reality in the Middle East.