B’Tselem’s Anat Biletzki: the worst thing that we do is we don’t use words at all

Chanukah has ended. As Rabbi Brian Walt reminded us, one year ago

on Shabbat Hannukah (Saturday December 27, 2008), Israel launched Operation Cast Lead. On that day, Saturday December 27, 2008, at 11:30 in the morning, a time when schoolchildren were still in school, 88 Israeli aircraft simultaneously attacked 100 preplanned targets in Gaza within a span of 4 minutes. This initial attack was followed by another attack and by the end of that Sabbath day, at least 230 Palestinians were killed and more than 700 injured. Shabbat Hannukah last year, was the day with the highest one-day death toll in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

By its end, nearly 1,400 Gazans and 13 Israelis were dead, thousands more Gazans injured and left homeless.

Vicious character assassination, event cancellations, social isolation, and the infrequent lost job (or more frequent lost funding) all take their toll on our collective search for full equality for Palestinians and Israelis. Countless people remain silent when we could speak, bury our heads precisely at the moment we must raise them.

While we understand why this works, the truth is that there’s simply no excuse, not now, to allow ourselves to be silenced. Not when we know the price we pay is nothing compared to the price paid by millions of mostly Palestinians but also Israelis, all of whom love their children as much as we love ours. Not when we all know our silence will only lead to another Operation Cast Lead, another Jenin, another Sderot, another Mohammad Othman, another Rachel Corrie, another suicide bombing, another leg of the wall, another Yitzhak Rabin.

ABOVE: VIDEO From the vaults of Jewish Voice for Peace, B’Tselem’s Anat Biletzki poses the question, “What do we do with our voice?” She says, “Words don’t fail, it’s people who fail…We fail in using words: we misuse them, we abuse words, we do terrible things with words, but the worst thing that we do is we don’t use words at all. That we keep silent, that we don’t give voice to things that must be given voice.”

Every time you are silenced or allow yourself to be silenced, you must come back stronger and louder than ever. On this, the anniversay of the attack on Gaza, I hope you too will make a promise to speak the truth you know, to stand for full equality and humanity and against repression in all its forms, to assertively challenge someone who puts forth lies or hatred. It’s not just the humanity of Palestinians that is at stake, it’s the humanity of Israelis, and indeed, we Jews and Americans.

-Cecilie Surasky

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