(note: This image of Ms Tamini with the flag is courtesty of the Irish artist Jim FitzPatrick.)
I am not saying anything new in this post. Martin Luther King, Jr., said it long before I was capable of thinking such things, and so did Thomas Merton, and so, I am sure, did many other good and wise men and women. But it bears repeating.
To get back to my original question, what do Emma Gonzalez and Ahed Tamini have in common? Not that they are teenage young women in the news; not that both are being attacked by right-wingers; not even that both, in their different ways, are fighting for justice. What, exactly, are these girls fighting?
You might say: Ms. Gonzalez is fighting for gun control and Ms. Tamini is fighting the Israeli occupation. Fair enough. But look a little deeper
I’m not sure how he’d feel about being quoted, but my father, a WWII era vet, once said ,“There is no excuse for war in the New Testament. None.” He also said we had to get away from the wartime economy.
When you look at the horrors happening right now in the Middle East, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in so many other places, what do they have in common? To be blunt, they support the wartime economy. Just like the militarization of our police; just like the prison industrial complex, the massive amounts of bloodshed in the Middle East make profit for the merchants of death.
Ours is still a wartime economy. In some ways, I truly believe we are still fighting WWII. And our leaders would not know what to do with themselves if there were no enemy they could demonize. For some of them, that enemy is Russia. For others, it’s brown-skinned people, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. For some, it’s both of these.
The Palestinians, it’s been said, are lab rats for the military industrial complex. The billions of dollars we give to Israel every year go mostly for armaments. Those weapons are used against the Palestinians. Arms merchants can then sell more of these weapons, claiming they are battle-tested.
This must stop. The sooner we stop it, the better. The bloodshed going on right now has nothing to do with justice. It has nothing to do with self-defense. It has everything to do with power-grabbing, greed, racism, and fear.
Just imagine what the world could be like if we actually beat our swords into plowshares and spent our treasure on peace rather than war!
I am cheering on Ms. Gonzalez with all my heart. Her classmates, too, and Ms. Tamini and all the people of Gaza, Bilin, Nilin and other places where the indigenous Palestinians are protesting peacefully. We do not need more occupation. We do not need more weapons of war. We need food, clean soil, clean air and water, and to give our children a chance at a better future. Think how much skill and technological innovation our horrible drone wars have required! If we can put that kind of energy into peace, what might we achieve? Let’s starve the merchants of death and feed the children!