3 Painful Lessons Palestine Can Teach Chicago

3 Painful Lessons Palestine Can Teach Chicago

Photo courtesy of understandingsociety.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.understandingsociety.blogspot.com

The moral crust of a society is the responsibility of its government. Right? I mean take any country, city or township and you will clearly see there are laws enacted by those in charge in hopes of maintaining a peaceful civilization. Every country has a duty to protect its people and should immediately kill (shoot, bomb or blowup) all people that don’t behave in accordance to their standards! Off with their heads! Well, this is true, according to Israeli blogger Yochanan Gordon, genocide is not only permissible it is advantageous to maintaining a harmonious society. In a blog post entitled, “When Genocide is Permissible”, printed on August 1, 2014 in the Times of Israel , Gordon states “Judging by the numbers of casualties on both side in this almost one-month old war one would be led to the conclusion that Israel has resorted to disproportionate means in fighting a far less-capable enemy.” I read this statement over, and over, and over again. The thought that continued to repeat itself was that the struggles of ethnic Palestinian people who occupy the Gaza Strip and West Bank are eerily similar to the struggles of my ethnic people of Chicago; and that if we don’t change the behavior and dynamics of all parties involved Chicago could very well end up in a military state like the Israeli/Palestinian country. I know its a lot, don’t worry, I’ll explain.

That seems like a heavy statement, the people of Chicago and Palestine are kin in their struggle of the right to live without police/military/government forces killing the people, poisoning their food sources and not allowing them access to proper education and medical services. To adequately explain my point I will briefly provide a breakdown of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is a short synopsis just touching on major events in the conflict, please do more detailed research if you would like to be fully informed.

  • In the late 1800’s Jewish Europeans were looking to leave Europe and  find a “homeland”, a place to lay claim and call their own. They settled on Palestine (Despite the many Palestinians who already inhabited the land. Hello Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and the Native Americans.) At first the Jewish settlers came in quietly but over the next 50 years due to the rise of Hitler in Germany, Jewish settlers came in droves of 100’s of thousands to Palestine, depleting natural resources and violently taking land from ethnic Palestinians. Hatred and conflict erupted.
  • In 1947 the United Nations (the gov’t body that kind of rules the world and sets the laws for how countries relate to each other) stepped in and divided up the land.The UN decided to give away 55% of the land to Jews whom only made up 30% of the population while giving the Palestinians only 45% of the land in which they represented 70% of the population. This is where the country goes from being Palestine to being Israel and Palestine. (Please note this is not the Quranic or Biblical land referred to as Israel…….. well because its Palestine.)
  • 1947-1949 all out war broke loose. It is to be noted that Israel invaded Palestine 16 times and the organization of a Palestinian military force did not come together until after the 16th massacre of Palestinians that slaughtered over 100 people. By the end of the war in 1949 Israel had conquered 78% of Palestine.  For several years after this Israel denied the existence of the ENTIRE Palestinian nation and subsequently denied the existence and lives of the Palestinian people.
  • Conflicts waged on and there was no peace for Arabs or Israeli’s. Once again conflicts came to a head and resulted in the 6 day War of 1967, Israel feared the Arab countries of Syria, Egypt and Jordan would unify and attack them so Israel struck first under the leadership of Israeli Defense Minister General Moshe Dayan. Troops invaded the last 22% of land occupied by Palestinians, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since International Law forbids acquiring land by war these are “occupied” territories and do not legally belong to Israel. Israel also “occupied” land in Egypt but has since given it back. How thoughtful 🙂
  • This brings us to the current day conditions. Palestine was traditionally about 89% Muslim and 7% Christian before Israeli invasion. Ethnic Arabs, whether Muslim or Christian, are systematically discriminated against, being barricaded by concrete blocks into Gaza and the West Bank. Here is a picture of the entire land of Palestine/Israel, those areas highlighted in a royal doo-doo green represent present day “Palestine” and the orange areas are referred to as Israel (though the whole country is technically Palestine).
    Photo courtesy of State Information Services.
    Photo courtesy of State Information Services.

    According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in 2013 there were 4.42 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. The Gaza strip occupies 179 sq miles of land. To give you an ideal of the dense amount of people crammed into that small space competing for clean water, food and other resources, Google Maps has taken the land mass of Gaza and laid it on top of New York. The Gaza Strip may be at most 1/4 of the land area of New York. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the subway in New York but I’ve had the privilege of being almost strangled by a mass of bodies in the thick New York heat that were too dense to all fit on the rail cars nor all on the platform.

    Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
    Photo Courtesy of Google Maps


But how is this Chi and what can we learn? Let’s first define the sides; for all intents and purposes the ethnic races of Chicago (African Americans, Indigenous Africans and Caribbean peoples and the many diverse groups of Hispanic peoples) of Chicago represent the ethnic Arab Palestinian people, the city government and CPD represent the Israeli Military Force and the gangs and criminal element in the city represent Hamas.

According to Alon Ben-Meir, International Relations Professor at the Center for Global  Affairs NYU, “A critical impediment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the complete distrust between the two sides. What makes the conflict even more intractable is that neither side is convinced that distrusting the other can be mitigated given the history of the conflict.” The deeply rooted distrust of Chicago Politicians and Police Force by ethnic groups in Chicago began in the early to mid 1900’s when the Jewish and Polish underworld leaders moved into politics as Sicilian and other Italian mob bosses took control over prostitution rings and gambling houses. Added to the great migration of Blacks from the south to northern cities to escape Jim Crow Laws and the beginning of a multi-decade wave of Mexican and South American immigration created competition for power, space and resources . The outlaw of alcohol during prohibition graciously handed the newly elected City Council members, Aldermen and Mayor’s Office a cash cow in bribes, kick backs and payoffs.  The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 began when an African-American teenager crossed the invisible boundary in Lake Michigan and swam into the Whites only territory. He was stoned by many of the White beach goers and drowned. The Riots of 1968 saw racial tensions swell to a boiling point after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Whether Eugene Williams’ was too tired to swim to shore and just gave up or the White beach goers stoned him to death for leaving the Blacks only section, it is clear that the subsequent police and Mayoral cover up gives just a slight glimpse at the history of distrust between elected officials/police force and the people…..just like Palestine/Israel.

A man gathers his belongings that survived after an Israeli bomb was dropped on his home. Photo courtesy of rinf.com.
A man gathers his belongings that survived after an Israeli bomb was dropped on his home. Photo courtesy of rinf.com.

A major source of anger for humanitarian groups is that the Israeli Military are bringing guns to a knife fight, they’re painting Picasso’s in an art competition for kindergartner’s. The Palestinian people are NOT equipped with rockets in their bedrooms nor do they house drone bombs that can be detonated at the push of a button nor do they posses DIME weapons like the Israeli military. DIME’s are Dense Inert Metal Explosives that rip human flesh to shreds just like a paper shredder does to last month’s bills. The Israeli defense is that Hamas is killing Israeli citizens and military personnel therefore these aggressive attacks on the people are necessary. Hold UP. Insert the City of Chicago HERE. Does it sound familiar that the unified government/police force are targeting innocent citizens based off of the actions of a small and very dangerous terrorist faction. Could this scenario represent the gangs menacing the city and riddling our streets with gun violence so police harass everyday citizens, snatch young men out of cars and brutally beat them for driving while ethnic? Could this represent how the CPD has stopped responding to residential burglaries, street muggings and other crimes enacted by thugs?  Doesn’t the Israeli Military force notice that Hamas harasses Palestinian citizens as well and makes their dwellings unsafe and potential bomb targets? Doesn’t CPD recognize that the same people shooting at them are the same people breaking in our garages, robbing us and sending the gunfire through OUR neighborhoods, often times hitting the wrong targets and killing our beautiful children? The ethnic Palestinians and ethnic Chicagoan’s are both fighting a battle against the powers that be and sadly fighting for survival among people of our own group who have decided that chaos and murder are easier to spread than butter.

The structural makeup of the land in Palestine and Chicago may look obviously different but the mental and psychological effects of their living conditions are the same.

Photo Courtesy of Times of Israel print edition.
Photo Courtesy of Times of Israel print edition.

Above is a picture of a Palestinian man sitting on top of the Israeli settlement, Ofra, in Gaza. Study this picture. First to note, Jewish Settlements are groups of Israeli civilian citizens who independently decide that they want to live in Palestinian designated space and any Palestinians who currently live there have to move. Not only do Israeli civilian citizens move into Palestinian neighborhoods, they then require protection from the Israeli Military who then decides that concrete boulders need to be put up to protect the Israeli citizens, creating sub standard “ghetto’s” and dense populations who cannot move in or out of their homes due to barricades they are not allowed to cross for the seeming “protection” of Israeli’s. This process of settlement building remind me of gentrification. Affluent groups (98% of these people are of Caucasian descent) deem an area of Chicago desirable, so they begin the process of buying up properties in that neighborhood which in return raises the property value to levels not affordable by the current demographic of people who live in the area. Increased number of police are now designated to patrol the area to “protect” the newly gentrified people in the area, of course this policing is biased, racists and causes way more problems for the original occupant of this area. To further “protect” the new gentrified population, speed humps, dead end streets and concrete blockades are put up to control the movement of the people.

Photo courtesy of chi.streetsblog.org
Photo courtesy of chi.streetsblog.org

Notice how this neighborhood block was cut in two and made into a no access street. Can we imagine how we could dictate what goods and services even down to what grocery stores and what foods are accessible to certain people by opening and closing roads and buildings. Busses cannot travel down dead end streets. If the population of a community has a low employment and educational rate, it is logical that most citizens will probably not have access to personal vehicles or very reliable ones at least, so public transportation is necessary to transport them to areas of the city that conduct business and provide goods. What happens when the new population develops businesses in the area that are totally unrelated and not affordable to the people who already live there? The buildings may be different; some may be brick and others may be concrete. We may rock gym shoes and jeans while they rock cottons and flowy fabrics but the systematic repression of a people bear the same results; intolerance, hatred, retaliation and death.

We Chicagoans can look to the Plestinian/Israeli conflict to see what a truly militarized city would be like. Would that be what we wanted? When there are 22 shootings and 10 murders over the weekends people cry for Martial Law, we need the military! I don’t think individuals realize what living in a city completely free of local government and ran by the United States Military would be like. Life would suck. There will be 8 pm curfews and those who stay outside pass them would risk being shot. There would be no free flow of information, where you live would become like a fortress with no one allowed to move freely in and out of neighborhoods. The military would decide what medical treatment people received, when and how soon. So do you agree that Chicago and Israel/Palestine share some similarities? What are you going to do to regain some control over our city?

When people ask why you are concerned about foreign relations and the crisis in the Middle East this is why; There but for the grace of God go I. -RD

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