On a day of atrocity (Thursday) whose horrors were–if possible–deepened by “censorship and self-censorship,” Dave Zirin of the Nation lauds the courage of those who defend Palestine, and thereby proves his own. He speaks the unspeakable:
*Israel’s relentless bombing campaign of Gaza,
*one of the most densely populated areas on earth, 1.7 million people, and half of them under the age of 16, being relentlessly bombed….1,500 wounded and 192 killed, including thirty-eight children.
*[the U.S.] delivers $8 million of military aid to Israel every day.”
*This is not a war in Gaza. This is a war crime.
Zirin knows “the price” of telling these truths but doesn’t ask praise. He mentions “daring” four times, but not about bravery: only to mock how tiny twinges over the “carnage” Israel wreaks on “imprisoned” Palestine are smashed by “the pro-Israel crowd.” He caricatures the opprobrium heaped on basketball star Dwight Howard for tweeting #freepalestine: “get that shit down and apologize”; “tweeting #freepalestine is smacked down”; “withering backlash”; “grovel”; “slammed.”
The furor shows “how desperate Israel and their backers in the United States are” to wipe out “even a whiff of criticism.” Zirin ridicules the vengeance of
Zionist Organization of America chief Morton Klein who told TMZ(!) that Howard “should be publicly condemned as strong as Donald Sterling was”
merely for tweeting “#freepalestine.”
Zirin could have pointed out that Klein himself “should be publicly condemned as…Donald Sterling was,” for Klein approves killing Palestinians, whereas Sterling dislikes being with “the blacks.” Both endorse Israeli racism. Klein adds,
“Anyone who uses the phrase ‘Free Palestine’ is either ignorant … or hates the Jewish state of Israel. It’s a hateful position.”
Zirin, though, skewers the double standard of “many commentators [who] praised the social conscience” of LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while forsaking Palestine. He concludes, “Palestinian people are imprisoned not only by walls, barbed wire and checkpoints but also by Western hypocrisy.”
Zirin censures the “craven US media coverage of the shelling of Gaza,” assuring us that,
I share [the] teeth-grinding frustration that…Israeli-born [basketball player] Omri Casspi has felt no pressure to apologize [for] his tweet…, “600 missiles been fired from GAZA by Hamas in the last 4 days. NUMBERS DONT LIE. STOP LYING.”
Zirin’s ethics shine:
In a sane world, Casspi would be roundly shamed—and not Twitter-shamed, but really shamed—for daring to say the words “numbers don’t lie” in relation to Israel-Palestine and not starting with the number of dead children in Gaza.
Any “sane world” offers equal justice for all, so Zirin calls us to deplore bloodlust wherever it appears:
Everyone should be demanding that the targeting of civilians end. People should universally condemn scenes of Israelis going to the top of a hill and watching the bombing of Gaza like it is a night out at the theater or wearing neo-Nazi symbols at pro-war rallies in Tel Aviv.
Zirin feels for the intimidated who breach taboos on Israel: Dwight Howard “was crushed” as “Howard the Coward” by Palestine supporters “for tweeting a near immediate retraction.” But Zirin honors him:
“I am not mad at Dwight Howard. I want to thank him …. for showing with utter clarity what few will say openly: that acknowledging the humanity of the Palestinian people comes with a price.”
Zirin quotes “former NBA player Etan Thomas [who] has also been tweeting #freepalestine”:
“Respect!” to all who “provoked conversation,” by “showing a social [conscience],”– “whether they deleted their texts or not.”