Taking the lead on Saturday, August 2, 2014, the U.S.-Palestinians*, as a cohesive group, 1) set forth a definitive new approach to peace with social justice between Israel and Palestine, and 2) reached out to offer support to, and make common cause with, a completely different ethnic group - the Hispanics - two sophisticated political moves that also show a depth of caring and commitment that, taken together, are the most effective nonviolent protest I have ever seen.
A U.S.-Palestinian leader explained it to me like this: "We think that both sides, Israel and Palestine, should look to the U.S. as a model. Here in the U.S., we are able to solve deep problems, work together in spite of deep ethnic and religious differences, without killing any children."
That has become a touchstone within the nonviolence/social justice/peace movement as a whole - that children be safe, safe from being killed and injured, and also safe from fear - what kind of world do we want for our children? - but it is the U.S.-Palestinians who have drawn a line in the sand and said, it stops here.
The protest Saturday, nonviolent except for unfortunate property damage to the Washington Post building, reached out its arm, figuratively, and put it around the shoulder of the smaller Hispanic nonviolent demonstration, which was demonstrating on behalf of...the Washington Post said "immigration reform", but I would say it goes without saying that any Hispanic protest would be on behalf of all the Hispanic children who have risked their lives to come to the U.S. and ask for a chance at a better life than they can, right now, get in their own countries, filled, as those are, with government corruption, drug lords, and gangs, as well as poverty, a lack of human rights, and a lack of hope.
Only Governor Patrick in Massachusetts has given an unequivocal, and emotional, moral response to the deep human protest brought to the U.S. by these children with their very presence. Some of the children, those who never made it to the U.S., have given their lives for it.
Here is Governor Patrick's basic response, his two main reasons, from his Statement on Sheltering of Unaccompanied Minors in Massachusetts, which is posted on the Massachusetts state government's website:
'We are a great Nation. Unlike any other superpower, America [I would say the U.S. - pc] 's power, to paraphrase a great man**, comes from giving, not from taking. America [the U.S. - pc], and this Commonwealth in particular, has given sanctuary to desperate children for centuries. We have rescued Irish children from famine, Russian and Ukrainian children from religious persecution, Cambodian children from genocide, Haitian children from earthquakes, Sudanese children from civil war, and New Orleans children from Hurricane Katrina. Once, in 1939, we turned our backs on Jewish children fleeing the Nazis***, and it remains a blight on our national reputation. The point is that this good Nation is great when we open our doors and our hearts to needy children, and diminished when we don't."
He adds, his other reason, "The other reason I have offered our help is more personal, less about patriotism and more about faith. I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions - and our inactions."
And, in his concluding paragraph, along with a tribute to faith and lay leaders, he says: "I don't know what good there is in faith if we can't and won't turn to it in moments of human need."
These Hispanic children are only able to reach the U.S. because the countries that they are from are geographically close to the United.States. Mexico is contiguous with the U.S. Some of the routes are all overland, some are partly by water. These Hispanic children have that advantage, geographic closeness to the U.S., over Palestinian children, plus the Hispanic children are not fleeing all-out war.
But Israeli and Palestinian children, plus Ukrainian children, and even Dutch children of multiple ethnicities (Dutch flight 17), are being killed.
Jennifer van Lent Vijfhuizen, of the Netherlands, puts it well in her letter to the New York Times online, dated July 25, 2014: "Above all, don't discount or disdain the grief of the Dutch. It is...real and heartfelt and will be part of the national consciousness for a long time. Not because of nationalism...but because the tragedy of Flight 17 touched so closely so many lives."
We do live now in a global village, but what is bringing us together, all of us, around these issues, is the natural, human concern of adults for children. It does take a village, but it needs to be a nonviolent protest-type of village - no child soldiers, not even adult soldiers, allowed, because children can be injured and killed by adult soldiers, in fact are likely to be, since we don't have separate battlegrounds for war, now, and never really did.
In a few minutes, I will send in my name to the state government of Massachusetts, offering whatever help I can offer - I do childcare for children with special needs - and I encourage everyone who reads this to find some similar way to offer help.
Oh, and please support the U.S.-Palestinian call to look to the U.S. as a model. Yes, the U.S. has made mistakes, and is making mistakes - we are not perfect - we still have the death penalty, and we still owe reparations, that can never be fully repaid, to the Native American tribal culture and to our black citizens, especially to the descendants of slaves. Plus to the Japanese interned during World War II. But it is what we, with all our diversity, are doing now, in this our time - solving deep problems, working together in spite of deep ethnic and religious differences, without killing children, that the U.S.-Palestinians are pointing to as a model for wartorn troublespots around the world.
*Until the promises of America extend to everyone in North, South and Central America, I don't use the word, "American". I say, black, not African-American, and I say U.S.-Palestinian, not Palestinian-American. The people in the U.S. of Palestinian ethnicity are proud of being U.S. citizens, and they take pleasure in helping to develop a country in which there is diversity, which is valued here.
**President John F. Kennedy. "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." He was from Massachusetts.
***The St. Louis. It was turned away from U.S. shores in 1939, carrying approximately 937 German Jewish refugees - men, women and children.