I first of all would like to begin by applauding Peace Action for putting up its memorial for the Palestinian villages destroyed when Israel defended itself from the attacks by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in 1948.
Some people may think it is biased or inappropriate that there is a display with the sign saying, “These are the names of the Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948 by the new Israeli state,” without noting the destruction occurring on both sides during the war. Some people may say that Israel was fighting for its survival and that the display outside the BLUU is wrong because its one-sidedness makes Israel look like the evil aggressor.
But I appreciate the one-sidedness and depiction of Israel as the antagonist through this exhibit. With that in mind, I have some other ideas for memorials we can put up as well.
For instance, next to the Holocaust Museum, we can also display the names of German cities that were bombed and destroyed by the American and British invaders in WWII. Just like the Arabs, the German people in WWII were clearly the victims in this conflict. It wasn’t as if they had started the war or launched an attack on the Jewish people, right?
With this month being Confederate History Month in Virginia, we should consider the large number of plantations, where thousands of slaves worked throughout the South, that were destroyed in the Civil War. Many people in the southern United States lost their ability to make money. The South’s economy was temporarily shattered as a result of the “War of Northern Aggression.”
We may even also put up a memorial to the British soldiers who lost their lives defending the empire from the upstart American colonists. The British lost a huge chunk of their empire and many of their soldiers died at the hands of the Americans and their rebellion. They must be the victims here, right?
I hope by now you can tell I’m being sarcastic.
I think the display put up by Peace Action fails to bring groups together at all. If anything, it angers and separates us. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a memorial for Palestinians who lost their lives in a war and I don’t really compare them to the Nazis or the slaveowners of the 1800s because the average Palestinian sitting at home is not to blame for the attack on Israel.
Nevertheless, I hope you get the point I’m trying to make. This memorial, if Peace Action truly wants to promote tolerance and the unification of different people, should include the suffering that Israel endured as well. A memorial to the many Israelis destroyed by Palestinian suicide bombers would probably go well with the other displays this week.
George Cagle is a senior film-TV-digital media major from Austin.