Well, the United States, the gun capital of the world, has been subjected to yet another mass shooting, this one taking fifty lives at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. There is no question but that this is a terrible tragedy, one that will result in Congress members and the president ineffectually calling for increased gun safety. We all know that nothing will come of that, due to the strength of the National Rifle Association (NRA) combined with the fear of a craven Congress. But such is a topic for another essay.
This writer doesn’t watch much television, but in the mornings, when using the stepper at his local fitness center, CTV News, certainly more an entertainment than a news outlet, is on the screens in front of him. Additionally, while searching through independent news sites online, he generally checks in to see what CNN, that bastion of bias, that servant of the corporate gods, is reporting as ‘news’.
As one might expect, and as is right, the horror of Florida was reported. It is news that another madman has obtained a gun and used it against scores of innocent people. The next logical step, one might think, is to look for ways of preventing a repeat performance by another mentally-unstable individual, in a nation that regulates teddy bears more stringently than it does guns. It is also reasonable to look for a motive; DAESH (aka ISIS) has claimed responsibility, although there is, to date, according to reputable news sites, no evidence that this is the case.
So while Congress blathers on about guns, and the FBI, one arm of the U.S.’s many-armed terrorist apparatus, seeks a motive, the so-called news stations are filled with other information. We are hearing about the individual lives of the victims; their love for family members; their dedication to others; where they worked and what their co-workers thought of them. We are subjected to the anguish of parents and other loved ones, who common decency would leave to grieve in private. We see ‘selfies’ of the victims that were recently posted on social media sites.
This writer will offer two names, and ask the reader to think of how much is known about each of them: Maram Abu Ismail and Ibrahim Taha. Ponder the names for a moment. Have you heard them on the news? Do you know where they lived, or how they died? Do you know who is responsible for their deaths? Did you see heart-wrenching interviews with their grieving survivors?
Sadly, these murder victims, and the unborn child of Maram, were never news. Maram Abu Ismail was a 24-year-old pregnant mother of two; Ibrahim Taha was her 16-year-old brother. They were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Ramallah.
There is an eyewitness account of the crime, provided by Alaa Soboh, a bus driver. He said that Ms. Ismail and Mr. Taha appeared to be unfamiliar with crossing procedures and were swiftly challenged at the checkpoint.
“As soon as the two crossed, [Israeli forces] started screaming ‘Go back, go back’, and then they began shooting.
“The first one they shot was the girl, the boy tried to go backward, when they fired seven bullets at him.”
Another witness reported that Israeli forces shot more than 15 rounds into the woman’s body. And to add insult to grievous, mortal injury, the Israeli soldier/terrorists would not allow paramedics to aid the stricken woman.
What have we heard on the news about this unspeakable crime? Did we all see interviews with the grieving husband, now left alone to raise his two young children? Was the mother of both victims interviewed, tearfully telling the cameraman how she will miss her two children? Did President Barack Obama, along with presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, condemn this crime, demand a thorough investigation by Israel, and stand in solidarity with the victims?
No, none of these things occurred, because the victims were Palestinian, the top of the list in the long list of people that the U.S. simply considers sub-human.
The murders of Ms. Ismail and Mr. Taha are similar, in some ways, to the mass shooting in Orlando; it is so commonplace that it barely registers anymore. Between October 1, 2015 and February 21, 2016, at least 180 unarmed Palestinians, ranging in age from eight months to 65 years of age, have been killed by Israelis, either soldier/terrorists or settler/terrorists. Yet even in the U.S., major mass murders still receive substantial press time. If, say, only five or six people are shot to death, it really doesn’t seem to be newsworthy, just like the nearly daily slaughter of unarmed Palestinian men, women and children does not garner the attention of the corporate media.
Yet when four Israelis were shot to death in a Tel Aviv restaurant a week ago, it was headline news. Any thinking person may well wonder why that is newsworthy, but the assassination of a young, pregnant mother of two and her teenage brother isn’t.
It isn’t difficult for the government to determine what its citizenry will know about and care about. Corporations, able to donate unlimited amounts of money to the campaigns of candidates who will do their bidding, own the news outlets. Zionists are prominent on many of these corporations’ boards. Therefore, Palestinian deaths are not news, but Israeli deaths are to be mourned the world over.
In U.S. governance, there is no financial altar so unholy that politicians and elected officials will not bow before it. There are no dollars so soaked in blood that they will not pocket them; no bodies so tragically pathetic that they will not stomp all over them in their pursuit of the dollar, the only god they worship.
Between 2009 and 2015, Israeli lobbies contributed nearly $17 million dollars to the campaigns of 349 U.S. government officials. And Congress members are not apt to bite the hands that so generously feed them; ethics, morals and justice be damned. That is why the major candidates make the annual pilgrimage to the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) convention in Washington, D.C.
This writer mourns for the victims in Orlando, as he did for those in Newton, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, Columbine High School and all the rest. Yet he also grieves for Ms. Ismail, Mr. Taha, and the tens of thousands of victims killed by Israel in the last few decades. They bled no differently than U.S. victims; they loved their children no less, and were loved no less by their parents. Their deaths are a tragedy for their loved ones and the world.
Nationalism, that belief that one’s own country or nationality is somehow better than any other, has long been on steroids in the U.S., from the inception of ‘Manifest Destiny’, to the oft-repeated concept of U.S. ‘exceptionalism’ today. With it comes the belief that the superior one can decide who is worthy to live, and who must die. Countless millions of people have died because of U.S. ’exceptionalism’, and that deadly concept, and all the carnage it brings, shows no sign of abating.
The current presidential election farce will only compound the problem, with one of two war-mongers, one with a proven record of death and destruction, and the other who, it seems, can’t wait to get his finger on the trigger, set to be the next president. Whichever one wins, the nation and the world can only lose.
Robert Fantina is an activist and journalist, working for peace and social justice. He writes extensively about the oppression of the Palestinians by apartheid Israel. He is the author of several books, including ‘Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy’.
Originally from the U.S., Mr. Fantina moved to Canada following the 2004 U.S. presidential election, and now resides in Kitchener, Ontario. Visit his web page at http://robertfantina.com/. Follow him on Twitter @robertfantina.