This article first appeared on Aljazeera.
It was very kind of Brenda from the US Consulate in Jerusalem to finally return my call at 7pm, long after work hours.
I had been trying since early morning to get an appointment for a group of concerned US citizens living in Palestine to meet with a policy officer. We came together through social media and word of mouth because we are desperate to speak out about the unjustifiable slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza that is now under way.
We want to express our opposition to United States’ complicity in the Israeli attacks that have taken over 90 Palestinian lives, with hundreds more injured. We want to demand a change of policy before the threatened Israeli ground invasion becomes a reality. But it turned out that it was difficult to reach anyone in the consulate, much less to get an appointment.
Brenda was clearly in a hurry, but she responded professionally and explained that the American Citizen Services section was busy trying to help US citizens stuck in Gaza to get out to safety. They had priorities, she explained. They couldn’t take time to hear our views. Besides, her office doesn’t do policy work. That would be the other office.
No, she didn’t know the name of the person responsible for policy at the other office. It’s that transitional time of year when people finish their missions and new people replace them. She advised that we not bother the policy people either. There is a crisis now and everyone is busy.
How convenient! US representatives are “too busy with the crisis” to talk about US responsibility for creating the crisis. I explained my view: The US gives billions in military aid to Israel year after year; it provides unconditional political support despite Israel’s belligerent settlement policies; and it has refused to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law in the 2008-9 attack on Gaza and the 2012 attack on Gaza, not to mention the current attack. Isn’t the US government – and, by extension, US taxpayers – complicit in creating the emergency that has now placed over 1.5 million lives at grave risk in Gaza?
Sounding a bit frustrated, Brenda said she understood my point but still advised that we cancel our visit to the US consulate tomorrow since no one would be available to hear our complaints.
There are protests here in Palestine, in Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and in cities across the United States and the world. People want the US to stop unconditional support for jingoistic Israeli actions. But our government is too busy to hear our complaints? How loud must we scream before our government hears our demand for justice for Palestinians?