Love for the Palestinian people – not sympathy for Hamas

Israeli journalist Roi Ben-Yehuda (I’ve mentioned him before – here and here) has just published a piece in Haaretz on the Muslim response to Hamas. He quotes me, but the most important reason to read his article is that  voices like his are the kind we need to bring hope, peace, and reconciliation into the new year.

A couple of days ago, Roi emailed me to ask: why does it seem as though more Muslims are speaking out against Hamas these days? Good question. Here’s the very short answer I sent him from my BlackBerry.

A Palestinian man cries over the body of his son. (REUTERS / Ismail Zaydah, Gaza)
A Palestinian man cries over the body of his son. (REUTERS / Ismail Zaydah, Gaza)

“The simple reason we see Muslims speaking out against Hamas is this: the organization has proved itself to be terrorist by nature and function, and while the larger Muslim community has always stated its rejection of terrorism, we see the pressing need to make our voices louder in these especially contentious times. The past near-decade in particular has placed the Muslim community at the center of most all public discourse on conflict, terror and violence. To engage the power of peace, we must also speak to the viral nature of violence from even the smallest factions of our own.  In short: supporting innocent Palestinians is not the same as supporting Hamas; just as believing in meaningful dialogue with Jews doesn’t mean support for the deplorable way in which Palestinians have been treated in Hebron.

Further, our dissenting and even outraged voices are nothing new. Recent history shows that over 80% of Palestinians distrust Hamas. Surrounding Arab states aren’t Hamas sympathizers: in fact, the Iranian government is one of Hamas’ only supporters in the region.

One cannot watch the scene unfold – Hamas hiding rocket launchers in residential neighborhoods, for example – and not see that they are effectively using Palestinians as human sacrifices to further their own aims. Muslims who care about Palestinians would never want them sacrificed in such provocations as Hamas’ recent violation of the ceasefire. 
Unfortunately, the Arab world has left the Palestinian people without a reasonable force to look to for help. As Israel obliterates civilians – including children – we run the risk of Hamas emerging as the “freedom fighters” they believe themselves to be. In other words, when a mother has lost her husband and child, when Palestinian children must identify their parents from a pit of 100 bloodied bodies, they understandably look to see who is fighting for them. If Hamas presents itself as the only hope to stop the destruction, that 80% will decrease out of desperation. If the world does not sufficiently aid the Palestinian people, a terrorist may inevitably appear to be a freedom fighter – and it is up to the rest of us to stop disempowering and dehumanizing Palestinians into this non-choice.”

“The formation of a free Palestine is not in the interest of the tyrants and despots that rule the Arab world… If the Arab rulers do not have Israel to demonize, they will have to deal with their own human rights violations.” – El-Farouk Khaki

Patients worldwide need you

Did you know that in the United States alone, one person dies every ten minutes due to leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma?

This post is quite unlike most things I normally share with you. While I always hope that calls to action will transcend self-imposed boundaries to compassion, this one really does come without religion or politics.

This past summer, after a friend lost her father to leukemia, and after watching another close friend fight lymphoma – I registered with the National Marrow Donor Program, through SAMAR. I had learned that while healthy bone marrow can save lives, many people who urgently need it are unable to find viable donor matches. Signing up to be a potential bone marrow donor is easy – some simple paperwork and a painless cheek swab are all it takes to submit your cells for DNA matching and evaluation.

Just a few weeks ago, I received a phone call and letter, notifying me that I had come up as a match for a 61-year old woman with leukemia. The process from that point moved quickly: I submitted to an evaluation of my physical health. Then, bloodwork would be sent in to determine if the patient and I were in fact a perfect match. As far as I was concerned, there was no thinking it through – if I was a match, I would absolutely undergo the donation process.

Regrettably, my health evaluation revealed that while my donation would have been safe for the recipient to receive (no communicable diseases, a healthy lifestyle, etc) – the donation process would not actually be physically safe for me. If the procedure would cause abnormally high risk to the donor, the National Marrow Donor Program will not proceed. Unfortunately, then, I cannot help to save this patient – or any other – with my own bone marrow.

That’s where you come in. I can’t help – but maybe you can.

The registration process truly is simple and painless. Click here to learn more about joining the donor registry. There are options for registering online or in person.

If you are unable to donate for whatever reason – like an autoimmune disorder – you can still contribute to help save lives. Call 1-800-MARROW-2 to learn more, or visit this website.