Dwight Howard should be thanked for showing the price of standing up for Palestine — Zirin

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Dave Zirin
Dave Zirin

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.

Etan Thomas
Etan Thomas

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.”

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Agree with Zirin. We’re starting to see more of these “tweet and release” solidarity tweets. I think it’s a strategy. The sentiment gets expressed to MILLIONS who then carry it forward. I think it’s very effective. Mark Ruffalo just did it too.

And then there’s Selena Gomez and John Cusack, who didn’t delete, in fact added to their original sentiment. That’s a whole ‘nuther level.

Thanks for the article, Susie.

Dave Zirin is great. I remember being shocked by his brave eloquence when Chris Hayes had him on his old ‘Up w/ Chris Hayes’ weekend show (which, BTW, was vastly superior to his current, neutered prime-time show, which is ‘Maddowesque’ in its adherence to Democratic Party dogma.) IIRC, he wasn’t even on to talk about I-P stuff, but just spoke out, and it was clear that Hayes was in total agreement. I think Eli Lake… Read more »

Just to add to ritzl’s comment above, I’ve also been seeing pro-Palestinian tweets from Anthony Bourdain, which has caused much rage, gnashing of teeth, and crapping of pants among the Zionist foodie crowd. (The ones who think Israel invented kkkhummus and developed Jaffa oranges in that formerly barren wasteland that had ‘no people’ in it, only Arabs.)

The trickle is turning into a flood…

thanks susie!