My Gaza talk Thursday night was in the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, with 30-40 people. Some in the audience had been to Gaza in the late 90's and also to the West Bank. They were better informed about issue than other venues. Questions began even before the talk did; they continued to flow through out my presentation.
Once again "Why is Israel doing this?"-- asked when I was talking about students not getting out to pursue scholarships.
"Gentleman" in back brings up "fact" that food approved by Israel provides a balanced diet for Gazans.
I responded: "There are extremely high numbers children, pregnant women and others suffering from malnutrition and numbers continue to rise. The only explanation is the diet, which Israel controls. Israel knowingly or unknowingly is creating malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
The audience was very upset about white phosphorus, Farah Abu Halima's case, and the deaths in her family. The audience was also concerned about pictures from the Qattan Center for the Child's art therapy program. "What is being done to help these poor children?"
My next slide was the American International School in Gaza. I talked about our taxes paying for the school and it how surprising it was to me that Israel would destroy it because we are their best friends in the middle east.
Here comes the best part.
The "gentleman" in the back says what a nice presentation I'd made but there were facts I had not included. Out comes a paper, which he began to read from. It started with 1948: how poor Israel has suffered to protect themselves ever since their country was founded. He didn't say the Holocaust but talked about tragedy and suffering, Then he started in on the Palestinians, who have been hostile since the beginning and dangerous, trying to destroy Israel and kill Israelis.
Gentleman: "Well they've have shot thousands and thousands of them, the people are terrified."
Me: "The people in Gaza are also terrified by Israel's actions...Just last week I heard an Israeli offical comment that Israeli children should not have to run to bomb shelters and are afraid.. Gazan children are terricfrd by Israel's soldiers, tanks, drones, helicopters which appear almost on a daily basis. I agree with you that children should not be under these conditions, in fact no one should. You mentioned bomb shelters...the children in Gaza have no bomb shelters to run to for protection.."
Shortly after this encounter, someone in the audience turned to the "gentleman" and said, "Sheldon, your time is up, you're manopolizing the conversation."