American perspectives on the war in Gaza are very much about complicated by a wave of domestic antisemitism that has revived terrifying memories of slaughter and oppression of Jews where they are tiny minority. Especially for those of us only indirectly exposed to this deep-rooted fear, empathy and morality demand an unequivocal intolerance for attacks against Jews and any other ethnic or religious minority in this country. When conflict arises, our hypocrisy when it comes to our own citizens — be they Jewish, Black, Japanese, Chinese, or Native American — is revealed beneath the crushing weight of white supremacy in our own country. I try to to remember, not always successfully, that I need to tread lightly as one of its beneficiaries not one who has felt its weight.
Much of the rest of the world is, at the very least, skeptical of our commitment to human rights in the international arena and sees the current conflict in Israel and Palestine as a continuation of centuries of bloody, Western exploitation, colonization, and extermination, and Westen civilization as guilty of history’s worst atrocities. Obviously, the particular history of Israel and Palestine, in which Israel was the only haven for Jews while Europe exterminated them and America excluded them, complicates any perspective on the region.
We should also recognize, however, that much of the rest of the world sees the conflict from a very different perspective, and the vicous attacks on Israelis — specifically because they are Jews — in places such as Dagostan, and the viciousness and brutality of Hamas, should not blind us to a world view in which the Palestinians, displaced under the auspices of of the British Empire and then repeatedly expelled or subjugated repeated wars of conquest, are also victims of European cruelty and indifference.
One explication of the skepticism of people outside of Europe and America regarding Israel’s response to Hamas’s attack is expressed by my friend friends Mohamed el Mokhtar in the Palestine Chronicle and Samir Bennis, in Morocco World News. I recommend them to anyone who wishes to understand the conflict from a global perspective.
Am I a “Zionist sympathizer”? I think not, but you can read my take below and decide for yourself.
However, how do you decide the case of people who were born in Israel? Admittedly, they choose where how they act, but not where they were born.
Despite the incredible courage of King Mohammed V in World War II, and despite Jewish advisors in high places, Jews in Morocco were not on an equal footing with Muslims, so they left for a better life. Are they possibly morally compromised for leaving to live on stolen land? Possibly, but then there is certainly debate over the situation of the Saharawi in the Sahara. Not to mention that all but a tiny fraction of the people who live in the United States are the beneficiaries of genocide and settler colonization.
What about people who have been deceived by a false version of history in the United States? What about the women and children who have been slaughtered on both sides? I guess it depends on definitions, but are these people all filth? Are the Jewish people in my family, whose views I do not necessarily agree with, filth for believing that the existence of Israel gives them a refuge their people never had before?
I condemn the war crimes of Israel, the seizure of stolen land, and the hellish conditions in Gaza, but I am not ready to abandon people such as those I describe above, and I guess of if I purged everyone I disagree with, even on pretty fundamental issues, I might find few people left.
The Palestinians must have full and equal rights, in two states or one. I believe at this point that history will now dictate the latter.
I hope that viewing the situation today a a complicated and tragic one in which many people are torn and trapped, and in which the slaughter of innocents is indiscriminate, and morality is not always and obviously black and white, does not brand me as a sympathizer and filth. I leave you to judge, although I would regret it if you decided we must part ways.
However, whether or not you view my words as the sincere statement of a friend, I would humbly ask that you do three things 1) read my words below, 2) read the words of Martin Luther King about his enemies and oppressors — before they killed him — in his speech at Drew University, and 3) if you decide after all this that I am giving “aid and comfort” to your enemies, do me the courtesy of sending me a FB message (or I will not otherwise receive your words) explaining your decision, so that I may at least have an opportunity to see the error of my ways. I feel my heart can bleed both for the children in Gaza and the dead in Israel. With my sincere best wishes, Bill Day
Blood, death, and destruction, and more blood, death, and destruction , and more blood, death, and destruction. That is the history of Gaza past, and the history of Gaza present, but we must ask ourselves, once the smoking rubble clears, the graves are dug, and the bodies buried, whether it must also be the history of Gaza future.
Today America is riveted by pictures of murdered Israeli party goers, shocked by the audacity and surprise of the offensive, which caught the vaunted Israeli Defense Force (IDF) with its pants down, and rife with speculation about Israel’s response, Saudi Arabian diplomacy, and possible Hezbollah and Iranian involvements.
Perhaps, however, the world will finally wake up to the fact that the life of a Palestinian child is as precious as the life of an Israeli child, that murder of civilians is a war crime no matter who perpetrates it, and that hate and vengeance only perpetuate hate and vengeance.
American cities are increasing security, but there have been no “credible threats” against Jews or Muslims in the United States
The American Jewish and Muslim communities are rightly concerned about the potential for sectarian violence. However, although American cities have been increasing security, especially in anticipation of demonstrations, there have not yet been any “credible threats” against American Jews or Muslims.
Do not look away, America, at the deeds done in your name with your money and your blessing.
But as President Joe Biden reflexively announces his “rock solid” support for Israel, Americans seem oblivious to the possibility that the world may have views and hear stories different from their own.
Leaving aside American romanticized and fictionalized understanding of Israel’s carefully orchestrated and brutally executed plan to dispossess the Palestinians over the course of the past century, America should at least take a hard look at the suffering in Gaza and ask themselves if they can simply write those people off because of they are under the thumb of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Look back, America, and ask yourselves how you feel about what we did to the Vietnamese and Cambodians, and do not look away as Benjamin Netanyahu turns the world’s largest open-air prison into the world’s largest open-air abattoir with his “mighty vengeance.”
Moroccans take to the streets, while the government seeks to mediate.
Meanwhile, Moroccans have taken to the streets while the government seeks to mediate. The Moroccan government is seeking de-escalation of the conflict and has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab league.
America knows where hopelessness has led at home, so why are we surprised to see it abroad?
When riots in American cities broke out across the country during the sixties, seventies, and eighties, white America seemed to be surprised. (I watched the Los Angeles riots and at the bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia on television.) White Americans could not make sense of the fact that black people would burn down their own houses and smash the windows of their own shops in order to loot them. They had ignored the warnings of people like James Baldwin that confining people in crowded ghettos under miserable conditions without jobs, money, education, food, or hope for generations would inevitably lead to an explosion.
Yale alumni ostracized Kingman Brewster, the University’s President, after he observed that the Black Panthers could not get a fair trial in America.
As in Gaza, America in the twentieth century simply drifted toward catastrophe for generations and was wholly unprepared when it arrived.
Freedom to defend yourself raises a question about why you need to.
Naturally, when a gang member tries to knife you, you have the right to defend yourself. However, you might want to ask yourself how he came to be a gang member. And when you ask yourself that, you might further ask yourself why he lives in a neighborhood where gangs are the only viable economic enterprise. And if you are white, you might ask yourself what accident of history led to the fact that in so many of these neighborhoods, these people do not look like you, and the fact that so few of them live in your neighborhood.
Looked at another way, there was no doubt that we had to defend the American frontier against the predation of Native American “savages.” There were acts of appalling brutality perpetrated by both settlers and indigenous people. However, we defended it so successfully that there are almost no more Native Americans, and the ones that remain have almost no land. In case, you were wondering, we had many learned men, beginning with John Locke, who explained why the land belonged to us and not to them.
There is more to the world than America sees.
As we break out the popcorn to watch the sanitized spectacle of aerial bombardment explode on our television, let us reflect that once again, we who have stood by also have blood on our hands.
Perhaps we should also reflect on the fact the narrative we hear and the pictures we see are not necessarily the ones that the rest of the world sees and hears. Our sympathies are not universal. There are more dead and maimed than we see and mourn.
Requiescat in pace.
Note: featured photo taken in Gaza between 2016 and 2020.
As Morocco continues to its efforts to rescue people and rebuild infrastructure after the most catastrophic earthquake in more than a century, people have been suggesting a wide number of ways in which people in the United States and elsewhere can support them, among them the following:
Relief efforts by American Charitable Organizations
Many American charitable organizations registered under Section 501(c)(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (which makes donations from American taxpayers tax deductible) that have been working in Morocco for years and have now joined in the effort to relieve people suffering resulting from the earthquake. They are already well/positioned to do so because of their long presence in the country.
The High Atlas Foundation has focused on development and reforestation in Morocco for decades, and it is currently using its network in Morocco to distribute food and supplies to communities suffering from earthquake. Donors can give at Earthquake Relief for Moroccan Communities – GlobalGiving.
The Rotary Clubs of Casablanca Nord and Washington, DC have teamed up to provide $1,000 in aid to the High Atlas Foundation, with special assistance from Dr. Younes Saih, Dr. Nina Selassi Saih, Mr. Mostafa Slifani, Ms. Linda Solomon, and Ms. Lisa McMcCurdy. Gifts may be made to the Foundation of the Rotary Club of Washington, DC
The Near East Foundation, with a broader scope and a longer history, also has a longstanding operation in Morocco and is committed to long-term rebuilding. Interested donors can contribute at Morocco Donate | Near East Foundation.
Chefs at World Central Kitchens to date have prepared at least 2,000 meals and delivered them to villages in the Atlas Mountains where people have suffered most. Donate here.
Project Soar, while not operating on the same scale a the previous two, continues to provide support for girls and young women in Morocco. It is a very worthy cause, and one near to my heart. People can donate at Donate — Project Soar.
My dear friend of many years (even if I see far too little of her) Nadia Serhani has been providing aid to Morocco through the Morocco Foundation for as long as I can recall. Their mission has been especially centered around children and education. As I write, they are delivering four truckloads of supplies to the Atlas, but they, too, need your generous assistance in order to do more.
Relief campaigns by International Organizations
Of course, there are a wide range of international organizations that have also begun efforts to raise money to aid Moroccan earthquake survivors, among which are the following:
Doctors without Borders does not have an established organization within Morocco but has sent teams to evaluate how they can help. They will accept donations at Morocco | Doctors Without Borders – USA.
I am not affiliated with any of the organizations listed above, and although I have done my best to provide accurate information, I am not soliciting for any particular organization. Anyone interested in giving money is responsible for investigating where and how their money will be spent before they donate.
Thank you to all the courageous and dedicated people on the ground saving the wounded and dispossessed people of the Atlas. In this life, there is no end of suffering, and people everywhere deserve our help and compassion. None of us can be everywhere, but even though I will always be an outsider and have long been away, I think of Morocco as my other home, and I have family by adoption there — you know who you are. My thoughts are first her and there — near and far.
I am grateful, and even if I cannot be there on the ground, I hope that each of us who loves Morocco as I do — in all its beauty and all its flaws — will take a moment to do what we are able to give whatever we can to assist our brothers and sisters there. Do unto others ….
As disaster strikes Southern Morocco, I am relieved that my own friends appear to be safe. However, many people are in peril. CNN is offering a means of providing aid through a wide range of charities.
The phenomenal success of the Moroccan women’s football (soccer) team in the World Cup thrilled me even more than the historic victories of the men’s team in Qatar.
When I was a teacher in Morocco, I was equally concerned about every student, and I tried to give each student the help and attention they needed to success. Time, class size, and other distractions meant that I inevitably fell short, of course. I wanted every student to know that I cared about them. To those I helped, I am gratified, and to those whom I did not, I apologize.
One thing that encouraged me, however, was the number of young women in my class who were just as devoted to learning as the men and every bit as talented. Even then, I saw the potential for achievement by my young women as well as my young men, and it was important to me to encourage them.
Poignantly, I recently met a young Moroccan woman who asked if women would ever have equal rights in Morocco. I responded by asking whether women will ever achieve equal rights in America. Anyone who has seen the new Barbie movie would take my point.
Sport may not be my preferred way to put women on the map, but it is one way, and yet another way that women defy expectations. Congratulations to the Atlas Lionesses for putting Morocco on the World Cup map a second time.
Admittedly, I do not usually seek out local Moroccan businesses, but when I heard that a new French bakery and café — owned and managed by a Moroccan couple — had opened practically down the street, I could not resist paying a visit. Lunch at Boulangerie Christophe did not disappoint. The goat cheese and tomato quiche melted in my mouth. The cappuccino was strong and rich, and I had a delicious raspberry and blueberry crême fraiche tart.
At the end of the meal, the manager came over to ask how I enjoyed my lunch. I was captivated the moment she said “merci” after I paid an appropriate compliment to the meal, and Lalla Mariam, who hails from Fes, and I had a lovely, brief conversation in French and Darija.
Without overlooking the fraught relationship between France and Morocco, this café represents a beautiful expression of Moroccan mastery of French cuisine, with some adaptations to American taste.
I recommend taking a moment to peruse the menu and better yet paying a visit to taste the food, which goes well beyond pastries.
I came to Rachid Taha pretty late; it is only a couple of years that I have spent listening to his music. The first thing I heard was his version of Rock the Casbah; who could resist? The Clash will never sound the same. So it is with genuine tristesse that I learned this evening that his voice has been silenced. He left us too soon, but he left us so much.