GUEST WORDS--The latest demonstrations in Gaza took place as the U.S. embassy was formally relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, on the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel.
Only 40 miles from the celebration, Israeli snipers fired upon hundreds of Palestinians- often taking out their kneecaps-and shot dead 60 others for attempting to come near the border.
When it was over, more than 2,000 Palestinians were injured-at least 1,350 by gunfire. It was another brutal massacre in the history of warfare between these two nations. As Amos Oz has written: "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a tragedy, a clash between one very powerful, very convincing, very painful claim over this land and another no less powerful, no less convincing claim."
Almost at the exact time that I was observing this appalling bloodbath on the evening news, a report scrolled at the bottom of my television screen that said a cougar had killed one mountain biker and injured another in Washington State. Apparently the victims were mountain biking near North Bend, about 30 miles from Seattle, just after 11 a.m. when they realized that a cougar was chasing them. According to the report, the bikers were able to scare the cat away at first, but it came after them again with fatal results.
As I thought about it, the two events took on a common meaning. Cougars attack when their territory is invaded or diminished. The thought of habitat depletion and food scarcity came instantly to mind. I also began to think about human encroachment in general, and the basic need to fight for one's survival when there are no good scenarios.
I thought to myself: just how similar was the cougar attack to the slaughter in Gaza? I remembered a list of statistics that I read on a progressive internet website. It stated that 95% of water is undrinkable in Gaza. The people have barely 4 hours of electricity per day. 45% of Palestinians are unemployed, 45% of Palestinian children suffer acute anemia, and 50% express no will to live. In total, 2 million Palestinians are denied freedom of movement. It is the biggest and most desperate refugee camp in the world. Every couple of minutes someone in Gaza is on the verge of dying due to malnutrition.
Like the remaining cougars in those Washington woods, Palestinians-sometimes in the most horrific ways- have no viable choice but to attack or face elimination.
(George Cassidy Payne is a freelance writer, domestic violence counselor, and adjunct professor of philosophy at SUNY and a CityWatch contributor.)