“What do I say to my ten year old grandson who asked me if world war three is coming?” someone asked me the other day. “That’s a valid question,” I replied. In many parts of the world, world war three is already here. In fact it has been world war three for a very long time for Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians and the people of Yemen. World war three has hit parts of Africa where for people are dying of war, poverty and disease. Many if not all of these countries were once quiet, stable and some even prosperous, but now many are in ruins, because of intervention and abuse by the US, the UK, France and other Western countries. And world war three exists much closer to home here in the US as well. It exists in the inner cities where gun violence is rampant, in the prisons and in neighborhoods into which poor people of color are driven and from which White America refuses to let them out. The only place world war three is yet to manifest itself in the sphere in which rich white people live.
There is no question that the attacks in Brussels, Paris, Istanbul and Nice, and the seemingly unending mass shootings in the US are frightening and tragic. In an interview on Public Radio, the editor in chief of the French newspaper Le Monde said, “French people need to get used to living with terrorism.” It sounded like something an Israeli prime minister or an American politician would say. That it is our destiny to live with terrorism because there are people out there who are mean and dangerous and want to kill us because we are – fill in the blanks – Jews, free, rich, etc. But little mention is ever made of the fact that these conditions created by Western powers. Israelis, for example are offended when a Palestinian says she doesn’t want to live with Jews in her country, Palestine. That after all they did to her family, her people and her country, no one will ever want to live with them. Similarly, Americans are offended when people around the world burn the American flag a flag they see on warships and on uniforms of invading US forces.
In Michael Moore’s epic movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” there is a scene where an old Iraqi woman is standing in the rubble after an American missile destroyed her house and killed her family. She looks up and cries, “Wennak Ya Allah, wennak?” Where are you God where are you?
U.S. missiles rained down on Baghdad, Saudi missiles rain down on Yemen, Israeli jets drop tons of bombs on Gaza, and Western powers impoverish Africa and ignore its people, yet the “experts” blame “Islamic extremists.”
Inevitably, from time to time, a taste of the violence reaches the West in the form of a deadly and tragic attack on civilians. Sadly, in the responses to these we hear “experts” and politicians express shock and indignation, instead of clear thinking, and vision. We hear “terrorism experts” recommend more surveillance and control of innocent people and tightening of measures that already make the life of the disenfranchised unbearable. They suggest that communities of refugees, immigrants and people of color be made to feel even less comfortable, as though they hadn’t suffered enough already. Needless to say the vast majority of these communities do not engage in acts of violence and do not support the senseless killing of innocents. Still they are all immediately made guilty by association and in the West today every Arab and Muslim is a suspected terrorist.
When cops kill innocent Black men who committed no crime, the very cops who are charged with keeping them safe, the President never shows up at the funeral. But when a lone, mentally sick Black man guns down police officers, the president (and even the former president who seemed to be drunk or high or both), and other officials come to pay their respects to the fallen police officers. The guns that are being used to shoot Black men were given to these cops by their community in order to protect the members of the community. Yet those police officers abused that privilege and innocent Black men die, and Black families lose loved ones. Then everyone calls for calm and looks at the Black community as though they are the ones prone to violence, as though they are not the victims of White violence White racism and indeed domestic, state sponsored, White terrorism.
No amount of security can stop an angry person with a truck, and when anyone can purchase and carry a gun no one, not even police officers, is safe. No prison can hold all the people who are impoverished and angry. No holding cells can keep all the people who have seen their countries run to the ground by America and are now refugees seeking a new home legally or otherwise. One terrorism expert said that when someone decides to ram a track into a crowd, there is not enough time between the decision and the action for security agencies to intervene. All that is required is a crowd of people, and in fact the crowd could even be standing in line waiting to go through security somewhere. So where do we go from here? The experts and politicians want us to believe there is no solution. People like Donald Trump exploit people’s fear and sense of insecurity and deepen the divide because that is the source of their power.
The theme of first day of the GOP convention was, “make America safe again.” But we must ask, safe for whom? Though the GOP and Democratic conventions are an opportunity to present a clear vision this is unlikely to happen.
Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. His father was the late Israeli General Matti Peled. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative. He has written a book about his journey from the sphere of the privileged Israeli to that of the oppressed Palestinians. His book is titled “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.” Peled speaks nationally and internationally on the issue of Palestine. Peled supports the creation of a single democratic state in all of Palestine, he is also a firm supporter of BDS.