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What the World Needs Now

What the World Needs Now
César Chelala  New York
I am looking at a photograph I have just received from Argentina. It is from old friend (we have been friends for more than 70 years) holding his wife’s hand, who suffered a stroke and has been in a coma for weeks. One word can describe that photograph: compassion. I cannot shake that image out of my mind.
At almost the same time, I read that the Biden administration is transferring billions of dollars’ worth of bombs and fighter jets to the Israeli government. The arms package includes more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials. The bombs have produced mass casualties of innocent civilians, mostly women and children.
In addition, the State Department has authorized the transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines worth roughly $2.5 billion, according to U.S. officials on the condition of anonymity, reports The Washington Post. Western armed forces practically never use those 2,000-pound devastating bombs, which can level city blocks and leave craters in the earth 40 feet across and larger, and great numbers of people dead or homeless.
Despite this massive transfer of weaponry, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu --The Butcher of Gaza-- has not suspended his plans to invade Rafah. He is ignoring both President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s repeated pleas not to do so. In the meantime, ignoring the International Court of Justice’s provisional ruling, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continues its offensive on the Gaza Strip which has resulted in the death of over 32,623 Palestinians injured 75,092 according to Palestinian health authorities.
Disregarding those huge numbers of Palestinians killed and injured, and of the IDF using starvation of innocent children as a weapon of war, a White House official said, “We have continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself. Conditioning aid has not been our policy,” without realizing the wretched irony of his words. And Israel, that proclaims itself to be the only democracy in the Middle East, with the most moral army, is the worst for it. Netanyahu has only been successful in tarnishing his country’s image.
Michigan Republican Tim Walberg is among those openly calling for genocide of the Palestinians, saying that instead of sending humanitarian aid to Gaza’s starving civilians, the U.S. should “get it over quick” and drop a nuclear bomb on the Strip. “We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima,” he said proudly, referring to the two atomic bombs detonated by the U.S. in Japan, confirming callous stupidity.
I look at my friend’s photograph again, his wife holding his hand for dear life and wonder why compassion, which can be such a powerful emotion in interpersonal relations cannot translate into political life and bring a measure of kindness for the lives of children. Isn’t that time to stop the suffering of thousands of children who are dying from starvation in a cruel war striped of humanity?
Writing in Haaretz David Rothkopf, a former senior U.S. government official, echoes my call for compassion, “The blame-shifting and inflamed rhetoric and political posturing and disastrous decision-making that have brought us to this awful point must stop. Fundamental decency requires it. But so too does the recognition of the failure to effectively intervene now to end the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will be a moral stain on the reputation of Israel from which the country may never recover.”
César Chelala is an award-winning writer on human rights issues.  
Photograph by Eduardo Sanchez de Antonio


Copyright 2007