GAZA: Grief, Horror, Outrage, Remembering

15 May

[Prefatory Note: Slightly revised at the end.]


GAZA: Grief, Horror, Outrage, Remembering




How can one not feel intense grief for the young Palestinians who out of despair and fury joined the Great March of Return, and so often found death and severe injury awaiting them as they approached the border unarmed!!?


This was not a gratuitous event, or something that happened spontaneously on eitherside. After 70 years of Palestinian suffering, with no end of torment in sight, to show the world and each other their passion was what would be seen as normal, even admirable, demonstrating a spirit of resistance that endured after decades of repression, violence, humiliation, and denial of the most fundamental of rights. After 70 years of Israeli statehood, this violent confirmation of our worst fears and perceptions, seals a negative destiny for Israel as far as the moral eye can see.





When exposed to such visual images of resistance and sniper violence the scene expresses the horror of burning steel rubbing against raw flesh. There is no way to grasp this particular cartography of risk, vulnerability, and security than to have recourse the language and imagery of horror. Such a sad narrative of horror will linger on both sides to haunt both collective and individual memories, but one with tragic pride, the other with repressed shame.


The horror was magnified by coinciding with obscene celebratory events in Jerusalem where Americans representing the Trump presidency, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and the American Ambassador, David Friedman, brought infamy to the United States by this unseemly display of indifference to crimes against humanity being unabashedly committed as they spoke. Such moral and political insensitivity will not and should not be forgotten.





Words are all we have, but they will do. As Thomas Merton taught some crimes

are situated in the domain of the unspeakable.


The occasions for outrage about the treatment of the Palestinian people are many, but the Israeli reaction to this Palestinian march reaches a new level of moral, political, and legal wretchedness. It recalls the cry of religious leaders of conscience in the last stage of the Vietnam War, expressed by their dutiful compilation of criminal acts of American violence committed in relatively defenseless Vietnam bearing the telling title—NOT IN OUR NAME.


As Jews, as Americans, as human beings, isn’t it about time to take a similar stand, and at least create symbolic distance between the perpetrators of these crimes and ourselves?


The feeble Israeli claims of its right of self-defense or attributing Palestinian martyrdom to Hamas are so shallow and lacking in credibility as to discredit further rather than provide justifications for this exhibition of homicidal violence on a massive scale not as isolated incident but as a series of arrogant reenactments.





Not with words or argument, but with tears, and tears will not do.


Certainly as the Martyrdom of Gaza, and quite possibly seen as a kind of silent bonding by the Palestinian people with the African victims of the Sharpeville Massacre (1960) or the civil rights marchers at Selma (1965) but far worse!


From this darkness will come an as yet undisclosed inspiration.  

27 Responses to “GAZA: Grief, Horror, Outrage, Remembering”

  1. John Walsh May 15, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks, Richard, for not only these words but for a lifetime of speaking powerful truth.

    • Richard Falk May 15, 2018 at 3:27 pm #

      John: Your always appreciative words especially appreciated in this context. Warm best, Richard

  2. pipistro May 15, 2018 at 3:18 pm #

    Israeli chutzpah, along with Trump’s arrogant foolishness, reach a new low in humanity.

  3. Ben May 15, 2018 at 3:34 pm #

    The Israelis have made their castle on disputed land and now any local ingrate who approaches the walls will be shot from the ramparts, while visiting dignitaries will be welcomed inside to make speeches about moral clarity.

  4. Fred Skolnik May 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm #

    Uninformed people who have never faced an Arab mob or seen one in action but hate the State of Israel, if not worse, are eager to buy into the idyllic fiction that the Gaza demonstrators are flower children quietly singing antiwar songs with a few oldtime spirituals thrown in as well. The Gaza demonstrations were organized by Hamas with the declared aim of overrunning the border and marching on Jerusalem. From the start, a large proportion of the demonstrators were Hamas activists. The demonstrations or, more accurately, the riots have been accompanied by rock throwing, Molotov cocktails, gunfire, and attempts to lay explosive charges at the security fence and even to fly burning kites into Israel to set fields on fire. 30-40,000 hysterical Arabs allowed to advance on soldiers or civilians is an immediate danger to life and limb and reason enough for Israeli soldiers to use live ammunition to stop them, because if they didn’t, anyone in their path would be torn to pieces. If Israel was firing indiscriminately, thousands would already be dead. The fire has been directed at the Hamas ringleaders and other hotheads in the vanguard of the riots. It is inevitable that “innocent” or unarmed individuals are going to be hit. The remedy is to keep their distance within the parameters laid down by Israel. In the meanwhile, Hamas made the “mistake” of posting photos of its fighters in full battle dress who were killed in the clashes, and duly rebuked by its supporters for giving the game away.

    Since the first days of the riots Hamas has changed its tactics somewhat, not identifying those killed as their own people but still maintaining pockets of armed fighters with explosives and guns inside the mobs while pushing women and children forward. Do you really not understand what 40,000 hysterical Arabs are capable of and what would happen if the army didn’t stop them? Do you even care?

    • Fred Skolnik May 16, 2018 at 1:01 am #

      I see that once again you do not wish your readers to see a view that challeges your own.

    • ben May 16, 2018 at 2:18 am #

      How about what fifty Israeli snipers are capable of and that we have witnessed, rather than your racist stereotype of the people incarcerated inside an open prison of Israel’s making and what you claim they would do with no recent precedent that I’m aware of unlike the numerous mass-murderous incursions by the Israelis into Palestinian territory. But there’s really no reason to argue with you, so I’ll stop wasting my energy.

      • Fred Skolnik May 16, 2018 at 2:56 am #

        Israel has no interest in killing innocent Palestinians. The army evaluates what the intentions of the mob are and resorts to live fire as a last resort. You have never faced an Arab mob. I have. If the army stood by and allowed the demonstrators to overrun the border, anyone in their path would be torn to pieces. Your understanding of how such a mob will act if it isn’t stopped can’t be a basis for protecting Israeli lives/

      • Gene Schulman May 16, 2018 at 9:43 am #

        “Israel has no interest in killing innocent Palestinians.” I’m afraid there are others who disagree, including Israelis:

    • Paul Wapner May 17, 2018 at 8:02 am #

      To those who have shouted their constant, unconditional defense of Israel in every post on this blog, can you simply be quiet for a moment? Your rant at this moment—in the face of senseless, arrogant, indefensible killing of protesters—is not simply an affront to any humane sensitivity but speaks of an insistence to remain blind. There were multiple fences at the border. A few protesters made it through one fence but were still far from the actual border. Yes, a scant few had Molotov cocktails but the overwhelming majority were unarmed and peaceful. Israeli soldiers mowed down people who were far from the border fence and posed absolutely no threat. Can’t you simply admit that? Can’t you stop the absurd gyrations of the ideological mind intent on seeing Israel as absolutely good in the face of clear counter evidence? Do you really think that every Israeli soldier is a benign, clear-eyed machine able to discern right from wrong, threat from peaceful expression of frustration? You ask if any readers have faced an angry “Arab” mob. Not only does the question express racism—an “Arab” mob is somehow nastier than some other mob—it also expresses blindness to democratic principles and historical amnesia about peaceful social change. I can imagine many like you talking about “Black” mobs during the US civil rights movement. Police used water hoses, clubs, and bullets to “restrain” those “mobs” that were simply expressing their frustration at US racist politics. Luckily, people of conscience in the US criticized such methods of crowd control and luckily many in the country actually listened to the cries of frustration. The US is a better country for that. Sadly, staunch defenders of Israel who see no problems w Israel’s (horrific) treatment of the Palestinians and Israel’s latest unjustiable assasinations are willing to defend the status quo no matter what the humane costs nor considerations of justice. I plead with you: for once take a moment of quiet—not simply to stop polluting Professor Falk’s thoughtful, perceptive and heartfelt observations but also to take time with yourself. Pause, look inside for once instead of pouncing on others. I simply can’t believe you won’t find at least of a kink in your armored self. Every comment you have ever posted has been simply a display of your armor. Is there anything inside it?

      • Richard Falk May 17, 2018 at 10:49 am #

        Thanks for this, Paul. I know you well enough and long enough to realize that you
        were provoked to write in this manner as your threshold of tolerance is admirably high,
        and so when it is crossed, as here, your words carry great weight with me.

      • Mike 71 May 17, 2018 at 10:32 pm #

        Should people be silent in the face of violent threats and attempts to cross the internationally recognized border between Gaza and Israel for the purpose of invading the country and murdering those living on the other side? For apologists for the murderous Hamas terrorist organization, which sent over 50 of its members among the 60 killed on the final day of the so-caloed “non-violent” protests, actually violent RIOTS, I have ZERO TOLERANCE! Israelis have the inalienable right to defend their homeland from foreign aggression, as recognized under the doctrine of “Just (Defensive) War” and as recognized under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

      • Richard Falk May 18, 2018 at 1:04 am #

        Although I find this comment outrageously detached from reality, I will not block it as it shows
        how extremist supporters of Israel filter facts, law, and interpretation. Israel has demonstrated skills in crowd
        control, and made not the slightest effort to minimize bloodshed as even mainstream human rights NGOs have
        confirmed. To blame the events on Hamas is to shift the conversation away from the core reality of massacre.
        I will continue to block all comments that contain personal insults and are mean-spirited in tone and substance.

    • Sean Breathnach May 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

      Fred, whatever about your views on the outcome of the past few weeks, the facts are that Israel has been abusing, brutalising, killing, ethnically cleansing, Palestinians for 70 years with impunity & complicity of the US. Residents of Gaza might all be members of Hamas but so what. Who else can they expect to defend them, not the Palestinian Authority who are just lackeys of Israel. Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza are entitled under international law to oppose the occupation. Coming back to last Monday, & the previous Friday’s, the massacre of at least 100 Palestinians & wounding of thousands more was not in any way justified & your claim of guns & bombs does not hold up. If your claim was any way accurate, why is there no casualties on the Israeli side? Last but not least, the litmus test, Israel won’t co-operate with the independent enquiry, which proves, in my opinion all your claims are false.

  5. Mrs. Elaine G McGillicuddy May 15, 2018 at 7:15 pm #

    So grateful for your insights Richard! I posted today’s on my FB page.

  6. Paul Wapner May 15, 2018 at 9:12 pm #

    The horror renders one speechless. I have no reflections only revulsion. Thank you for providing words in this darkest hour. It seems there is no bottom to the depths of unconscionable acts in this world. May justice somehow, I don’t know how, find a foothold.

  7. Heather Stroud May 16, 2018 at 2:32 am #

    Thanks for this Richard. Your words shine with wisdom and truth. It’s 100 years beyond time for people to wake up to this terrible suffering and creeping genocide of a people, whose only ‘crime’ is to live in land that their oppressor’s covet as theirs.

  8. Angelo Stefanini May 16, 2018 at 4:03 am #

    I always find your thoughts a great inspiration. Thank you. Angelo

  9. Mike 71 May 16, 2018 at 5:25 am #

    Every nation-state member of the United Nations is entitled to self-defense against foreign aggression:

    U.N. Charter, Article 51

    “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right right of individual or
    collective self-defense If an armed attack occurs against a member of the United
    Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain
    international peace and security.”

    The first obligation of every nation-state is to protect its citizens:

    “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep
    at night, I am going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israel
    to do the same thing.”

    –Senator Barack Obama, July 23, 2008, Sderot, Israel

    As part of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, unlike Chapter 4 provisions, Article 51 is mandatory.

    Palestinians, divided between two warring factions, are neither a nation-state, nor members of the United Nations; they are merely “observers.”

    This right self-defense is also enshrined in “Just (Defensive) War Theory.” See the following websites:

    “To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism.”
    –Pope Francis

    Hamas’ so-called “peaceful protests” have been anything but peaceful. Hamas has infiltrated its members hiding among civilians, including children, to attack the Israeli border from behind them. Yesterday’s RIOTS produced the corpses of some 60 Palestinians, 24 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members among them. For the terrorists, the lives of Gaza residents, including children, are cheap and readily expendable for the terrorist cause. Hamas has yet to learn that Gaza is not a “consequence free environment,” providing unqualified immunity from its acts of terrorism.

    “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”
    –Golda Meir, 1957

    “It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate – not violence.”
    –President Donald Trump, December 6, 2017

  10. Beau Oolayforos May 16, 2018 at 9:11 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    As always, we are grateful for your eloquence. When you finish with the hope of inspiration coming out of darkness, I can only hope that my long-ago dream comes true, where the reunification of Israel and Palestine was a growing party to which I, with my American money, was definitely not invited – I was looking for the exits, but was glad it was going on.

    Meanwhile, we have many Orwellian moments, like Nikki Haley at the UN praising Israel’s “restraint”. Luckily, we live in a multipolar world – this emperor has no clothes, and everyone with eyes can see it.

  11. ray032 May 16, 2018 at 10:05 am #

    Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken; Children I have raised and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me.
    An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master’s crib; Israel does not know, my people does not consider.
    Woe to a sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, evildoing seed, corrupt children. They forsook the Lord; they provoked the Holy One of Israel; they drew backwards.
    The Jewish Prophet Isaiah 1

    This word of the Prophet is now gone out to the heavens and the earth this Day!

  12. Richard Falk May 16, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

    You will be blocked from this site if you continue sending posts. You have
    created your own site to object to my views. Why isn’t that enough for you?

  13. Jewish state is in New York not Occupied Palestine May 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

    [[[Egypt and Israel have blocked Turkish aircraft from using their airports to transport thousands of Palestinians wounded by Israeli troops during protests in Gaza, Turkey’s deputy prime minister has said.]]]

    SHAME ON TURKEY AND EGYPT that are wounded and dead Palestinians for their PETTY INTERESTS to fool Arabs against against Iran the region.l

    Turkey is the first Islamic country to recognize savage Israel (1948) to the present. Turkey always has been zionist servant and never called its ambassador home when Palestinians were massacred until now to promote Erdogan’s interest against Iran that has supported Palestinians continually since Iran revolution for 40 years.

    Now, there is a competition for two criminals, Al sisi and Erdogan to fool Arabs to capture Arab fool’s hearts and minds. Only dumb Arabs falls for this petty show.

    Down with both US servants and zionist behind lickers. We spit at both.

    DOWN WITH ZIONISM AND SHAME ON ZIONIST JEWS. Down with Jewish mafia at the white house.

  14. Jewish state is in New York, get lost May 18, 2018 at 12:22 pm #

    [[Although I find this comment outrageously detached from reality, I will not block it as it shows how extremist supporters of Israel filter facts, law, and interpretation. ]]

    Please, do you have memory???? Mike 71 is a rabid zionist murderous


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