Born and raised in America, I learned that my country was built on outstanding principles propped up by a great constitution. When I saw those principles violated and the constitution ignored, I complained. At times, I was told to shut up.
The Vietnam War was well underway when I started teaching at a California university. I learned as much as I could about the war, believed it was wrong and joined the protesters. My untenured position was at risk for joining the peaceniks.
I also learned that Arabs and Israelis were more alike than different when expressing their antagonism toward each other. One of each happened to be in a class I was teaching. Each would sidle up to me, separately and at different times, to explain what was wrong with the other.
The Israeli told me how Arabs wanted to drive Israelis into the sea. The Arab explained how Arabs and Jews had lived in harmony for centuries in Palestine; and he couldn’t understand why the Israelis were stealing their land.
Assuring me that they were threatened, the Israeli reminded me of how 6 million Jews suffered the fate of a holocaust in Germany. He even argued that Israel was under constant threat from millions of Arabs surrounding his people.
Telling me how groups called the Stern Gang and Irgun were terrorists who slaughtered both British and Palestinians, the Arab explained that thousands fled their lands after Israelis massacred hundreds of Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin.
Thus, it has evolved for years, with most Israelis believing a myth that they have an absolute right to Palestine, and many Arabs under an illusion that America or Europe will put things right some day.
Learning what had been happening in Palestine, and was still happening, I discovered that my country was supporting the wrong side in the conflict between a heavily armed Israel and Palestinians with stones and sling shots. Jewish friends in America told me to shut up.
To make matters worse, the Western media has presented a distorted view of the story. Arabs have been vilified in the media for decades, while Israel has been generally portrayed in the most favourable light.
I discovered how Americans had been brainwashed by media propaganda distorting the facts, ruining peace efforts and supporting theft of land and murder of innocent civilians. I discovered this same media would never publish the truth. Commentators who have been outspoken about many other issues had been told to shut up.
Since the sanctions and invasion of Iraq, I have bemoaned the more than a million Iraqi lives lost along with America’s 4000 dead and 10′s of thousands wounded, all to satisfy Israel by yielding to their control of our media and our government. Warmongers want to silence me.
I have bewailed the disastrous handling of Afghanistan and the threat of war with Iran, again to satisfy Israel’s urge to control the Middle East completely. Zionist supporters tell me to shut up.
It’s not my business to criticise other countries unless mine is supporting their genocide, rape or slaughter of innocents. For that criticism, a few people have told me to shut up.
It’s my patriotic duty, however, to criticize my own country where there’s injustice, inhuman cruelty, bigotry, brainwashing or disinformation inadequately revealed in any major media.
Are any of the labels hoisted on me true? Some are. I am a rebel, but not without a cause. I am dedicated to exposing injustice, inhuman cruelty, disinformation and bigotry.
Don’t tell me to shut up.
Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.