Several days ago, I went to the movie theater and was profoundly moved when one character, in an effort to justify taking away people’s freedom declared, “If people had the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

I look around, and I see many things that we have chosen wrong. I look to our oppressed women, our trafficked children, the state of poverty in developing countries. I look and I look and I see horrible images that sear themselves into my memory. I look at places like Cambodia, Iraq, Sierra Leon, and Palestine, countries that are struck with havoc on an hourly basis. Then I look at Gaza, and I think to myself, we have not chosen wrong. We have chosen evil. And even worse than that, we have chosen silence.

We are always silent, again and again. Our silence will not protect us, and it certainly will not help anyone else. As guilty as Israel is of war crimes, as much killing as they have done of innocent men, women and children, we are all guilty in our own way. I’ve known about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for years, and I have never spoken up about it. In my own private circle, I have discussed the horrendous atrocities that Israel has committed and continues to commit today and will commit again tomorrow. They will not stop because there is no one there to stop them. Because we the people have not spoken loud enough.

The United States is supplying Israel with 3 billion dollars per year on top of military aid and veto power to support all Israeli commitments in congress. Why is the United States not resisting Israel? If we aren’t going to help the children dying in Gaza, why are we helping the people who are pointing the guns? Why aren’t we protesting against Israel to protect freedom, democracy, and peace, all of the qualities that the United States claims to be built on? I’ll tell you why. You know how they say money doesn’t buy happiness? Well here is what it does buy.

  1. Money buys media. 90% of all media that is broadcasted to the United States is owned by only six major corporations. Can you believe that essentially six people are controlling the media content of millions of people?
  2. Money buys power. The Israeli lobby in the United States is controlling our government. Obama’s hands are tied because politics are corrupt and Israel is rich.
  3. Money buys silence. There are Arab countries in the Middle East that are grossly richer than Israel. Why haven’t they spoken up about their brothers and sisters in Islam that are being slaughtered? They too have been bought.

I feel ashamed of my country. If we, the United States, cannot be an example to the rest of the world, we also cannot expect anyone else to act with compassion when we are the ones in trouble. There will be a day when we are at the mercy of others. Will our voices be heard or will we disappear into a history of cruelty and mistakes that are never learned from? I fear the latter.

Though my shame runs deep, my horror runs deeper. I am horrified by what Israel is doing. There is no way, none, in which their actions can be justified. If Israel claims that Hamas is the problem and Israel has so much money, for goodness sake’s, resolve your problem with them and them only. Why must other civilians die for their leader’s so claimed “crimes”? If Obama decided to become racist against white people, would Canada start killing people like you and me as punishment for our leader’s faults?

One point I would like to make very clear is that I am not anti-Jewish. Judaism is an Abrahamic religion. I could almost consider Judaism a cousin of Islam. You would think that between so many mutual beliefs, there would be less hatred. I have never, nor will I ever hate Jewish people. I will not label them for the wrongs that their nation is currently committing because I know what it feels like to be accused of crimes that only an extremist could sanction and advocate for.

I have finally found a cause that is close to my heart. That is not to say that I do not feel for all of the millions of people that have died before, including all of the Jewish people in the Holocaust. But once again, people, particularly children, are dying on the Gaza strip, and I will be silent no more.

Do not be fooled for indeed there is a genocide going on. There is no concept of war between Palestine and Israel. Even war has rules that every nation is held to. When Israel started killing people in Gaza for whatever political and historical reasons, they began a murder spree. People are being murdered! I cannot make this anymore clear. Can you even begin to understand the hypocrisy of what Israel is doing? For all the injustices that have been done against Jewish people over the millennia of history, they should know better. They should.

One of my professors at the university that I am currently studying at said this to me. “Paying attention is a moral act.” To even be aware, to be properly educated and informed is an act of morality in itself. Ask yourselves. Have you been paying attention? Do you know what kinds of crimes Israel is committing that you are standing in silence for? We have the freedom to choose. Let us choose the right. Let us spread the message of peace. Let us save Gaza.

Esma Arslan