I’m moved by the American response to the Haiti disaster, by the sense of connection Americans are expressing to Haitians across traditional barriers of class, race, nation, and geography. Is this the Obama effect? Yes. Would the three network anchors have rushed across seas to Haiti under such circumstances 3 or 5 years ago? No; the U.S. is making progress, multiculturalism has won.
So what about the Palestinians? Why, a year ago, didn’t the American anchors race across seas to join them in Gaza as US-purchased munitions were used against those defenseless people? Why didn’t they provide up-close stories about the voices in the rubble and the torn-apart families? Why didn’t they tell us about the Gaza prison that was destroyed and the criminals poured back into Gaza society to terrorize people–an angle they repeat over and over in Haiti?
You say Haiti is in the Americas and this is a natural disaster without terrorists. I say Palestine might as well be part of America for the goddamn special relationship to Israel and war is a better story than a natural disaster (as my former editor Zach Stalberg said to me when he sent me off to the Dominican for a hurricane case 30 years ago, "I hate natural disasters; no villain"–in Gaza there was a villain).
Besides, how many times have these anchors gone to Iraq for some big news? This is really the problem. Gaza wasn’t big news. The slaughter of defenseless people who could not flee and who cowered in their homes praying to die as high-tech American weaponry lasered in on them, it was only big news in Europe and Asia. The Palestinians haven’t been offered the sympathy that any other suffering people command from Americans– through 62 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing, ghettoization and discrimination. We’re going to change that.
P.S. A friend points out that the original sin was Obama’s silence on Gaza a year ago before he came into office. Thus he refused to extend his world-progressive cloak where it would have mattered.