Guest contribution by Adam Akkad
Dear Mr. Brown,
I was delighted to comes across your tweets about the Houla Massacre on Twitter. I applaud you for spreading awareness about this grave injustice. Your appeal to the humanity of your followers is commendable and honorable. Of course, all instances of injustice are awful and regrettable. It is our duty to speak up and act to alleviate the suffering of the oppressed all over the world whether they be in Syria or elsewhere. The crisis in Syria is deplorable, and we should take any and all measures to help end the suffering in Syria with the utmost respect to Syria’s sovereignty and dignity.
Humanity has a long history of injustice. Many peoples have suffered in the past and many continue to suffer today. Injustice is not a sporting event where the team with the most points wins. On the contrary, as the score board increases, humanity loses. However, I do feel that in order for our concerns and activism to be taken seriously, we must be principled in our condemnation of injustice wherever it may be and however small. This leads me to my question and reason for writing this letter: Where was the outrage during Operation Cast Lead where Israel mercilessly slaughtered over 1400 Palestinians, hundreds of whom were innocent children?
While your tweets did prompt me to ask this question, my question is by no means limited to you specifically. One thing that the ongoing crisis in Syria has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt is the international community’s double standard in dealing with Israel. This has become clear as many of the loudest pro-Israel voices who ignore and condone the suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel are quick to condemn the tremendous suffering of the Syrian people. The only difference between the suffering and murder of the Syrian children in Houla and the Palestinian children in Gaza is the oppressor responsible for their suffering. If the identity of the powers inflicting such barbaric injustices dictates whose suffering you object to and who you speak up for, what can we say about your commitment to humanity? Many of the heinous crimes we are witnessing in Syria have been perpetrated by Israel on Palestinians causing endless suffering for over 64 years. Where is the outrage over the suffering of the Palestinian people?
Many pro-Israel voices are quick to respond to any criticism of Israel by asking ‘Why not criticize Syria or Saudi Arabia or any of the other Arab governments?’ The response to the crisis in Syria has made the answer to this question crystal clear. Arab regimes, unlike Israel, receive tremendous criticism from the international community. Countries like Syria are under sanction for its crimes against its own people. Israel, on the other hand, is not held accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people. Israel has oppressed the Palestinian people for 64 years. How many more children have to be orphaned, homes demolished, acres of land stolen and lives lost before the world wakes up and brings justice to my people?
I am not accusing you of having an agenda against the Palestinian people. However, just like you appealed to the humanity of your followers earlier, I am now appealing to your humanity. Now that you do know about the suffering of my people it becomes your duty, as our brother in humanity, to share our story and join us in our pursuit of justice.
Mr. Brown your music is very popular in Palestine and you have no shortage of Palestinian fans. Music has long been a tool of the oppressed to resist oppression and alleviate their suffering. In Palestine we draw inspiration from the anti-slavery and civil rights movements of the United States. We suffer at the hands of a racist and discriminatory ideology that echoes the suffering of your people in the United States’ not so distant history. But we are steadfast and patient as we are certain that time is on our side. I hope that you too will help us in our struggle by speaking up and standing up for justice. I look forward to meeting you on the right side of history.
Adam Akkad is a Palestinian-American college student based in Washington, D.C. You can follow him on Twitter at @Abou_Charlie.