Voices of Peace


This piece is one of the most powerful pleas for a change of heart and policy in the Middle East we've read.
Ms. Shields writes with skill and knowledge, personally and politically. -Editor

Please, Dad, Tell Me:
How Do I Stop Being Complicit?

by Sarah Shields

Abraham and the Three Angels by Marc Chagall
from the book Marc Chagall by Francois Le Targat
© 1987 Ediciones Poligrafa, S.A., Barcelona and Madrid


Dear Dad,

It was an enormously heavy responsibility you raised me with. You taught me that the Jews have been oppressed for centuries. You taught me that the holocaust could only happen because the Germans were silent. You taught me that Jews must never, never, never be silent when injustice occurs, because our silence makes us complicit.

You taught me about history, and you taught me by your actions. As a rabbi, you preached against racism in the south, and had to leave a pulpit in Louisiana when they threatened to kill our family. You worked for open housing laws, insisting that there should be no ghettos in America like the ones your parents had lived in in Europe. You counseled Jewish kids who were conscientious objectors, eliciting the hostility of many who believed that the Vietnam war was a valiant struggle for justice in our time.

It is a heavy responsibility I carry now. Because now I am complicit. I have not stood in front of the tanks that are killing other mothers' children in refugee camps. I have not ridden in ambulances to help them get past checkpoints so that the injured could be cured. I have not laid in front of the bulldozers to prevent their destroying a family's shelter.

What can I do about this injustice?

Palestinians are losing their property, their lives, and their children every day. The Israeli army shoots at unarmed civilians, imposing collective punishments that make it impossible for Palestinians to get food, water, or power. For decades, Israel has settlers to move into occupied territory.

International law reflects the consensus of the world's sense of right. International law seeks to protect the powerless. And international law is clear. Occupying countries have to protect the lives and propertyof the local population. It is not legal to establish settlements at all. Why do Israel and the US pay Israelis to move into them?

There are Palestinian terrorists. They have been raised under occupation. Know what? Israeli soldiers treat occupied people the same way other armies have treated occupied people. The stories are horrendous. Arbitrary beatings. Tauntings. Killings. Arrests without charge. Torture. Threatening parents in front of children. Stepping on prisoners trying to move between check points. Strip searches.

The use of power to humiliate.

When people are humiliated, and have no homes to return to because the homes have been destroyed by the occupying army, When people are humiliated, and have no family to hold them in their arms because they have been shot and unable to get medical care, When people are humiliated, and have no hope for the future, They see no alternative to violence.

You taught me Judaism's universal message. I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears and suffering the Jew weeps. I believed Edmond Fleg's words, I am a Jew because Israel places man and his unity above nations and above Israel itself.

Dad, we have become the oppressors. One rabbinic student told me years ago when I lived in Israel that this was the meaning behind the warning to remember that we were slaves in the land of Egypt. We were warned to remember, because sometimes slaves want to become masters.

We are the oppressors, and we are also the victims. Jews are being killed, and at the same time, the moral imperative that you taught me was part of being Jewish seems to be vanishing. I believe that Jews are being used by an American administration to accomplish its own ends, ends that have nothing to do with the ideals of Jews. We need to shout aloud that 80% of the billions that the US gives Israel in aid must be spent on weapons, and that more than half of those weapons are built in Texas. And Jews are being used by an Israeli government that has no interest except territorial expansion. Sharon is the ideological heir to Jabotinsky. Land for peace was never in that ideology. War makes conquest possible, and all the people of Israel and Palestine are being drawn, tragically and together, into that war.

We must act, and we must act immediately. Jews are being used to legitimize the slaughter of Palestinians.

Please, Dad, tell me how to be like you taught me to be. How do I stop being complicit?

I love you. -- Sarah

***
© 2002 by Sarah Shields

First published on Wednesday, April 10, 2002 by CommonDreams.org

Sarah Shields is an associate professor of Middle East history at UNC Chapel Hill.



© Spencer Creek Press, West By Northwest 2000-2002 All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher and/or sponsors.

publisher@westbynorthwest.org

webmaster@westbynorthwest.org

West by Northwest
Spencer Creek Press
PO Box 51251
Eugene OR 97405



West By Northwest



Voices of Peace, Volume VI
¡Volveremos!
Africa: Peace with Justice Northwest Tour
Starhawk's Heresies in Pursuit of Peace: Thoughts on Israel/Palestine.
Sarah Shields asks Please Dad, Tell Me: How Do I Stop Being Complicit?
Peg Morton sharesMy School of the Americas (SOA) Saga.
Web links
Erbin Crowell considers Coffee and Fair Trade.
Illegal Logging Threatens Ecological and Economic Stability.
Ecstasy of Ecology - Penny Livingston and the Permaculture Institute.
Norman Solomon considers India and Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons and Media Fog and the USA's "War On Terrorism": Winking At Nuclear Terror.
M.G. Hudson asks us to Consider the Case of Patricia Sweets: The Failing Safety Net of Publicly Financed Health Insurance.
Patrick Morris, writes on the role of the Royal Pains.
High Plains Films releases This Is Nowhere
Meet Skip Schiel, an remarkable photographer
Delight in Guy Weese's Summer in the City Photos
Doug Tanour's Exodus Poems
Jane Farmer uses the medieval villanelle
Explore a few small presses with big ideas. We look at The Magic Fish, When Spirits Come Calling, Saving Wilderness in the Oregon Cascades and Cradle to Cradle.
Barbara S. Thompson's My Life, Chapter 4, Moving Out West to Los Angeles.
Cogentrix to Aquila, Going from Bad to Worse? by Mary Zemke.
Lois Barton's Sunnyside of Spencer Butte, The Cat That Flew and Sauerkraut and All That.
Jonnie Lauch's electronic debut in Nighttime Intruder.

Archive

Late Spring 2002

Early Spring 2002

Winter 2001-2002

Fall 2001 Late Summer 2001

Summer 2001

Late Spring 2001
Early Spring 2001 Winter 2000-01

Fall

2000

Late Summer
2000

Summer

2000

Spring

2000