Gaza suffering deserves more attention


Imagine a vigil; what do you see? One does not conjure images of unruly crowds spewing with hate; instead, images of candles emerge, voices of compassion and a solemnity that overcomes large crowds with thoughts of peace. Vigils are spectacles of human compassion for victims of some terrible attack inflicted upon them by violence. To cite an example, The Daily Targum reported on the Mumbai vigil for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which left 180 people dead in November of last year. Like the Mumbai vigil, on Feb. 26 members of Belief, Awareness, Knowledge and Activism also arranged candles that spelled out "Gaza" on the Brower Commons steps, while others laid out paper cutouts of small hands that bore the names of hundreds of children killed by the most recent of many Israeli assaults on Gaza.

BAKA educated the crowd by passing out flyers that presented facts on Gaza's suffering that began 18 months prior to the December 27, 2008 military attack that killed more than 1,300 Gazans and injured more than 5,000. The vigil presented speakers that voiced facts on the situation, a guitar duo dedicated a musical piece for the innocents killed and a visual presentation captured the imagery of senseless killing and destruction, unleashed on a largely unarmed civilian population. Peaceful it was: At least 100 bore witness to the very human aspect of the vigil and its serene tone, including University Professor Jawid Mojaddedi and College Avenue campus Dean Matt Matsuda.

Yet the Targum failed to publish any article on the vigil, citing a lack of "balance" and asking that the "other side" be portrayed as well. Two days later, the Arabic Cultural Club's fundraising event that brought in over $25,000 in aid for Gazans also succumbed to the same rhetoric that claimed there need be a more balanced view of the "issue." It is apparent that on a campus as diverse as Rutgers the Targum should conduct itself more responsibly and adhere to the very values it claims to cling to. The Targum belongs to us, the whole of the student body, not a handful or privileged few. The ACC and BAKA made strides in bringing humanity to the Gazan crisis. They deserve the front page just like everyone else.

Israeli victims are always given attention; rarely is the suffering and killing of innocent Palestinians ever portrayed. So why should the Targum demand that the "other side" have a voice when there is some show of human compassion towards Palestinians? History proves that there is a much too often ignored Palestinian side. Is it not enough that during the vigil a group of pro-Israeli supporters yelled to desecrate the moment of silence? Or that they showed up and argued with Jewish supporters because of their own slanted view on Palestine and Israel? The voice of Palestinians is not limited to an Arab or Muslim population. Palestinians have a base of support that has spanned the globe cutting across ethnic and religious lines, and this fact is not limited to the population here at the University.

While thousands of tons of weaponry were raining down on Gazans, they had nowhere to hide and could not leave during the three-week assault. Israelis enjoy the protection of bomb shelters and room to travel far from the reach of any Hamas rockets. Israelis enjoy an endless supply of water, electricity, food and medical supplies controlled by them. These basic necessities were cut off from Gaza for at least eighteen months before the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and continue to be restricted to minimal amounts, up until today. Humanitarian agencies such as United Nations Relief and Works Agency and other UN affiliates reported that Gazans were and still are suffering from malnutrition. It was also reported that Gazans began to eat cattle feed in desperation prior to the military attack. Israeli civilians hurt or killed had ambulances that were allowed to come to their aid. Gaza's ambulances were shot at, aid workers killed and many weren't allowed to seek injured civilians.

So, what is the humanitarian crisis in Israel? You figure it out. To continue to ignore the killing of more than 1,300 Palestinians from Gaza with more than 5,000 injured, maimed and lacking sufficient treatments is appalling. Let us not forget the 13 Israelis killed during the same three weeks, the other side.

The media lacks empathy for Palestinians, for the indigenous population displaced more than 60 years ago. The lack of understanding that forces media to take a stand on one side of the human family while ignoring another must stop, and it starts with the Targum.

Shehnaz Abdeljaber is a University College senior. He is also on the board of Belief, Awareness, Knowledge and Activism.


Shehnaz Abdeljaber

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