To be completely candid, when I hear about violence and killing between Israel and Palestine I zone out and turn off. I wonder why it even makes the news anymore. I thought "news" was the unusual, things out of the norm. I am sickened to say this but recounting Middle East brutalities is as much the norm as reporting the sun coming up.
I do, however, sit up and take notice when the lives of foreign peace activists are lost. When this occurs Israel seems to always be the perpetrator. Its not that I care more about the lives of foreigners, but their deaths are often muddied in the morass of endless charges and counter charges.
Twenty-three-year-old American Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza on March 16, 2003, as she tried to stop it from demolishing a Palestinian home.
Tom Hurndall was a 21-year-old photojournalism student who travelled to the Gaza Strip as part of the International Solidarity Movement. He was shot in the head in April 2003 by an Israeli army sniper while trying to rescue Palestinian children in the street. He never regained consciousness and died nine months later in a London hospital.
Three weeks later, British cameraman James Miller, 34, was shot dead by a soldier from the same Israeli unit, just a mile away from where Hurndall died. He was in Rafah making a documentary for a US cable channel.
Tristan Anderson,38, had three brain operations after being shot in the head with a high-velocity tear gas canister by Israeli security forces on March 13, 2009. Anderson, who survived but sustained major brain damage, was in the West Bank village of Nilin to join Palestinian farmers in protesting the construction of Israel's "separation wall".
In the early morning of May 31, 2010 Israeli soldiers stormed the Gaza-bound international aid convoy called the Freedom Flotilla in international waters about 40 miles off the coast of Gaza. The six ships had nearly 700 international activists on board and carried 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid. They were aiming to break the three-year-long siege of the Gaza Strip. Nine peace activists are confirmed dead.
Former US Ambassador Edward Peck was on the Gaza aid flotilla that came under attack by Israeli forces. He responded forcefully to an Israeli ambassador's claim that Israeli soldiers were acting in self -defense:
"Everything he said, as far as I'm concerned, is what you find in a meadow somewhere where they keep large animals," Peck said. "One of the things I find that is the twist in this thing was that these peaceful, heavily armed commandos who were in international waters to capture a ship full of men and women, who were not bothering Israel, and who took what steps they could to try to prevent these pirates from doing it, are accused of attacking them. Mr. deputy ambassador, they were defending the ship. The Israelis were attacking it, and the passengers didn't want them to do it. And to see somebody using a deckchair against a heavily armed and armored Israeli soldier, I mean, my god, that's a dangerous weapon. It's called twisting the story. If you come to attack me and I defend myself, you know, that's considered legal in law."
Ironically, another peace activist ship, the Rachel Corrie, is sailing toward Gaza as I write.
The lament of a well-known Jewish Rabbi millennia ago still holds water:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'