Editor's note: On Monday, CL contributor Jerry Klein penned an editorial about the Israel/Palestine conflict in which he identified, though not by name, a friend and local leader of the Muslim community who shared a graphic photo on Facebook of a young Palestinian who had perished in recent weeks during an Israeli-backed missile attack. Jibril Hough shared the photo. Here, Hough defends his criticism of Israel's military actions.
As the holy month of Ramadan began this year, a scene we have seen all too often began to play out again. U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons of mass destruction began to rain down on Gaza from the so-called Israeli Defense Force. According to rumors, the current attack on Gaza began because of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens by Hamas. But that’s not true, even though Israel used this as a precept for the assault on Gaza. As Ramadan ended and the bombs kept falling on Gaza, one of those guided missiles landed on me, here in Charlotte, fired by someone I have considered a friend: Jerry Klein.
Unlike Jerry, I will never qualify my statements by explaining to you who my friends are, like they are tokens from different races, religions, political affiliations and walks of life. As if that gives me the liberty to slap them in the face or make me an expert or holier than thou. What I will say is, anybody who knows me knows that I am a man of peace and justice and one who stands on principles, even if it means losing a friend or two.
So how did I become fodder for Jerry Klein’s column? Like Jerry, I have never been one who has shied away from saying (or doing) what needs to be said. Like Jerry, I have been called too many names to mention. Like Jerry, some of the names have even come from my own religious community at times. After watching about three weeks of carnage by Israel and close to 1,000 deaths with 85 percent to 90 percent of them civilian men women and, yes, children, I made a decision. I decided to post a picture of a poor Palestinian boy who had his head blown apart by an Israeli air raid on his home. Along with the picture, offered an apology if it offended anyone, but I felt it was time that people wake up and see what our government is supporting when they say, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” I could not hold back any longer. My heart was bleeding. I was being moved by my conscious, not Hamas.
So now I have been accused of being used by Hamas for sharing that one picture. How many pictures of the horrific happenings of the holocaust have we been shown over the years? Has there been the same kind of outrage by Jerry and the like, from any one of them? This is not the first time this kind of attack has been thrown my way. When I protested the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I was accused of being used (and supporting) terrorists, simply for working for peace and justice. It was former President George Bush who famously said, “You’re either with us or against us.” As with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and most world conflicts, the situation is are much more complex than that. I will never be scared by talk like that, nor will I give up my principles and deny my conscious.
I have always condemned the killing of innocent civilians, regardless if this killing has been done by the U.S., Israel, states or two bit terrorists groups. In Islam, we believe that killing one innocent person is like killing all of mankind, and saving one person is like saving all of mankind. I have been critical of Hamas sending rockets into Israel with the possibility of killing innocent civilians. But this current conflict is not solely about Hamas firing rockets. As I write this, over 1,100 Palestinians have been slaughtered, mostly civilian, and about one Israeli civilian has died. With numbers like that, people must ask, “What is Israel protecting, exactly?
If I have been perceived as being less critical of Hamas at times than I have of the military might of Israel, it’s for these reasons. As an American citizen, it is our tax dollars and politicians who support and fund Israel blindly. I have no real say with Hamas. I do have a say with what my very own government supports. Yes, the blood of innocent Palestinians is on the hands of those who blindly support the policies of Israel against the Palestinians.
Who can argue with “Israel has the right to defend itself”? It’s like saying you are going to war for “freedom and democracy.” Such beautiful words with such ugly realities and results. The question we are facing is not that Israel has the right to defend itself and the right of existence. The question is, does the Palestinians have those same rights as Israel continues to build more settlements, ethnic cleanse, practice apartheid and wipe out more Palestinian homes and people.
Dante said the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who stand by and do nothing while an evil is taking place. I say the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who not only stand by, but support it! Blaming Hamas solely is like blaming a woman who has been raped for fighting back recklessly.
Shortly after Jerry came back to Charlotte and in the midst of his fight with cancer we met for lunch and connected. Perhaps I forgot to remind him that, “I don’t know Hamas, I know hummus."