Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Letter The Inquirer Refused to Publish

For several years I’ve been writing letters to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  I don’t have any illusions that these letters will make any profound changes in the world.  Writing these letters has given me the opportunity of expressing my views, and puts the seeming insanity of the Inquirer editors in context. 

Over the years the editors at the Inquirer have become a bit more conservative and it is more difficult today to get a letter published.  My estimate is that about one out of every 20 letters that I write to the paper will be published.

Force-feeding prisoners

The last letter the Inquirer declined to publish responded to a July 30 article reprinted from the Lost Angeles Times by Batsheva Sobelman.  The article reported on a new law adopted by the Israeli Knesset that allows prison authorities to force-feed inmates who are on a hunger strike.  Clearly, there are many horror stories in the world, but this one caught my eye.

Thinking about the force-feeding of hunger strikers made me think of the 2004 film about the life of Alice Paul who dedicated her life to advancing the cause of woman’s rights.  Hilary Swank had the starring role in this film titled Iron Jawed Angels.

In the year 1917, Alice Paul led a demonstration in front of the White House.  This demonstration ridiculed President Woodrow Wilson’s statement that the United States was a part of the First World War to make the world, “safe for democracy.”  Alice Paul and the other suffragettes made note of the fact that in 1917 women in this country did not have the right to vote.  So, they argued that President Wilson’s statement of making the world safe for democracy was absurd.

The police responded to this demonstration by arresting all of the participants.  Those who were arrested faced horrendous conditions in prison.  Alice Paul led a hunger strike against these conditions.  The authorities responded by inserting a feeding tube into Alice Paul’s throat, and force-feeding her with raw eggs three times per day. 

The film Iron Jawed Angels contained a scene portraying Alice Paul being force-fed.  I never forgot that scene.

The public eventually learned of this force-feeding, and the resulting outrage led to the release of Alice Paul and her supporters.  By 1920 the United States government passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that gave women the right to vote.

The latest Israeli atrocities in a world in the midst of an economic crisis

The year is 2015.  This is 98 years after the force-feeding of Alice Paul.  Yet the Israeli government has had an open debate about whether or not to force-feed Palestinian prisoners who are on a hunger strike.  Indeed that government actually passed a law that told the world how they think it is appropriate to force-feed Palestinian prisoners.

As it turns out, also during the month of July, Israeli civilians burned a home in the village of Duma south of Nablus in the West Bank.  18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh died as a result of this arson attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement critical of the murder of Dawabsheh.  However, just last summer Netanyahu ordered the Israel military to bomb the Palestinian occupied Gaza Strip.  During those bombing raids over 2,000 people lost their lives.  This included over 500 children and much of the Gaza Strip was destroyed.

Tax-payers in this country should be aware of the fact that the U.S. government has responded to these horrendous Israeli actions by continuing to subsidize Israel to the tune of billions of dollars every year.  The question is, Why?

The Middle-East is the region of the world where most of the oil on this planet is located.  No corporation in this country will have even one dime’s worth of profit without a continuous flow of oil.  Israel has become the most loyal of the U.S. allies in this region.  These facts might have something to do with the reasons why the government of this country continues to use enormous resources to subsidize Israel.

The economies of Greece and Puerto Rico are showing the world that we are in the midst of a profound international economic crisis.  When the full force of the storm of this economic crisis is felt by all working people, the masses will demand a change. 

One of the necessary changes will mean that all working people need to be treated with the dignity we deserve.  When I say all working people, I’m talking about Palestinians, Jews, Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, women, men, as well as Native Americans.  As Malcolm X once said, “Either we will all be free, or no one will be free.”  

Force-feeding ordered by the United States government

The day after I wrote this post, I discovered another story that is pertinent to this column.  Force-feeding prisoners is a violation of international law.  However, this has not stopped the United States government from force-feeding its prisoners at its infamous base at Guantanamo, Cuba.

Apparently the United States has other things in common with Israel.  The government in this country stole the land from the original inhabitants.  Many of those original inhabitants now live in Mexico and today the government of this country considers many Mexicans who live here to be illegal immigrants. 

The government has also built a wall to separate the descendants of those original inhabitants from their homeland in the southwest.  This government has also been deporting hundreds or thousands of “illegal immigrants” every day.  Most of those immigrants come from Mexico.

My opinion is that ultimately working people have no reason for borders.  We are all a part of one human family.  This is the same in Palestine as well as the United States. 


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