iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Salam Al Marayati

Salam Al Marayati

Posted: July 13, 2010 11:59 AM

Freedom of Speech for Some but Not All

What's Your Reaction:

White House correspondent Helen Thomas and CNN Middle East expert Octavia Nasr recently lost their jobs because of their controversial statements related to the Middle East.

Yet there is no outrage, let alone calls for resignation, when two members of Congress commit similar if not worse offenses. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) advocates for "economically strangling" the people of Gaza, and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) demands that the non-violent humanitarian activists involved in the Gaza flotilla be prosecuted by the Attorney General.

What Schumer and Sherman advocate for amounts to killing more Palestinians and forcing more of them to leave their homes--i.e. ethnic cleansing. That is much worse than what Thomas and Nasr stated or more accurately, did not, as they were never given the chance to clarify what they meant.

Senator Schumer exposed his lack of knowledge when speaking to an Orthodox Jewish organization by stating that Palestinians do not believe in the Torah or in King David.

Palestinians, many of them Christian and Muslim, accept the Torah and King David. Imagine turning the table on Schumer, asking him if he accepts Jesus or Muhammad and if he accepts the Gospel and the Quran. Ridiculously offensive question, isn't it? Schumer's ignorant blabber about Palestinians, Islam and Christianity is equally offensive.

The Quran actually includes the story of Moses and the Children of Israel's liberation from the Pharoah along with stories of King Soloman and King David. The Quran also acknowledges the Torah and Gospel as divine messages.

Regardless of Schumer's twisted version of history, more Americans should be disturbed by his campaigning to "strangle [Palestinians] economically" as a form of collective punishment because Hamas is in power in Gaza. Isn't that the same argument extremists assert, that as Americans we deserve collective punishment for electing leaders responsible for Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, rendition, torture, and the supporting of Christian fundamentalist military leaders who believe that they have a "bigger God" than the people of the Middle East?

Now, let's look at Brad Sherman. His view is that any American involved in the Gaza convoy be prosecuted by the Attorney General for violation of the 1996 Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Many commentators questioned, if not criticized the Supreme Court for banning political and humanitarian assistance to groups designated as terrorist organizations, even if the aid is intended to promote non-violent methods of resistance. Why, then, is there a mute response to Sherman's assault on humanitarian relief? A handful of protesters gathered in front of his Capitol Hill office to demand that he prosecutes those who killed the humanitarian activists.

The crisis of malnutrition and human suffering is well-documented by Amnesty International. But Israeli leaders are in denial, touting that the humanitarian crisis is a figment of our imagination.

The whole world, except for the United States and Israel, saw Israel's attack on the humanitarian convoy as piracy (Israeli commandos attacked the ship in international waters) and a violent assault against a non-violent humanitarian convoy. Just like the Goldstone Report on Israel's war crimes in Gaza was whitewashed, this latest incident will be whitewashed by US influentials. Just like there was never an investigation of the USS Liberty attack by Israel's air force back in 1967, there will be no independent investigation of the attack against the Gaza flotilla.

At the very least, America needs to begin clearing its conscience on what our tax dollars have done to the Palestinians. It's time to set the truth free.

Stop lecturing the Middle East about free speech when the tar-and-feather political lynch mobs tear apart our media. End the hypocrisy now and protest Schumer and Sherman for advocating the dehumanization of Palestinians, the demonization of Islam, and the staining of America's moral conscience.

 

Follow Salam Al Marayati on Twitter: www.twitter.com/salampacker