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U.S. aids Israel in funding Gaza massacre

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In January, 2009, I toured Israel as a young American Jew and, essentially, a guest of the state while fighter planes soared over my head to drop bombs on Gaza.

A short while later I befriended a young counter-terrorism soldier who had fought and killed Palestinians as part of the ground invasion. He wasn’t sleeping. He was wracked by nightmares. And while Operation Cast Lead, as that obscene massacre was called, punished the minds of young Israeli men and women, compelled by their commanders and the peculiar injustice of military occupation to violence, it left nearly 1,400 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, many of them women and children, and it left Gaza’s infrastructure – hospitals, schools, roads – in ruins.

Only four short years later, Israel has once again escalated the violence with Gaza, which is still smoldering from Cast Lead, and is now a choked, open-air prison, whose citizens have been forbidden access (by the State of Israel) to such things as chocolate, wheelchairs and crayons. As I write, three Israeli civilians have been killed by Gazan rockets, and more than 100 Gazans have been killed by Israeli weapons, many of them civilians, women and children. Israeli continues to bombard the small strip of land night and day. Israeli tanks are prepared at any time to begin a ground invasion. Seventy-five thousand reserve troops have been called up.

This massacre (with such a lopsided casualty count, what else can we call it?) feels far away from Bemidji. Yet the U.S. gives $3 billion in military aid to Israel each year. Billion. That aid comes from each of our paychecks. This is to say, each of us is funding the massacre is Gaza – which means each of us bears the responsibility to see it end. Call our politicians, sure. Better, divest from companies that profit from military occupation, like Caterpillar, Elbit and Northrup Grumman. Boycott products that benefit from military occupation, like Sodastream, a machine that makes seltzer. Answer the call of Palestinian civil society to be in solidarity. We, as Americans, must do better than sit back idly while civilians die by the tens and hundreds from weaponry purchased with the money from our wallets.

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