It’s ’68– and who will be the Cronkite of the Jewish community?

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"That’s it. If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America"— President Lyndon B. Johnson, February, 1968

After reading the tragic and heartbreaking news concerning the Israeli attack on the activists attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, two events from the Vietnam War era come to mind, the Kent State shootings and Walter Cronkite’s editorial following the Tet Offensive. Wikis:

The Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. ..There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected the public opinion, at an already socially contentious time, over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.

Notice that Americans are now talking about the underlying issue, the blockade of Gaza. Again, Wiki/Cronkite:

In mid-February 1968, Cronkite journeyed to Vietnam to report on the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. Upon return, on February 27, 1968, Cronkite closed "Report from Vietnam: Who, What, When, Where, Why?" with an editorial report: To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

Many people throughout the world have been able to objectively ignore the explanations, rationalizations, and spin by the Israeli government on this latest violation of international law and human rights against peace activists and the people of Gaza. Hopefully, however, the "serious" leaders of the Jewish American community, like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Rep. Howard Berman (Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee), or Rep. Gary Ackerman (Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia), realize the ever-increasing dangers of blindly backing the Israeli government and, finally, have the courage to stop condoning State terrorism. Just one of these individuals needs to stand up to the twin bullies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, by removing his one-sided political support for Israel and encourage a more vigorous and fair response from the President of the United States.

They must immediately state, like Mr. Cronkite, that "the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could." If they don’t, then it will be up to the world community to remember the shock and horror of today’s events, support the ideas of the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and demand that our politicians do the same:

News Release 31 May 2010 Gaza aid convoy killings: Those responsible must be held criminally accountable – UN expert GENEVA–

The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, urged Monday the international community to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of some 16 unarmed peace activist, when Israeli armed commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to Gaza. Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas, Mr. Falk said. It is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts….

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