By Judy Haiven
The photo above captures Mike Pence, former US vice-president visiting Israel, signing artillery shells before their deployment from the Occupied Palestinian territories into southern Lebanon. He is surrounded by IDF soldiers as he autographs the bombshells.
While he’s there, maybe he can sign his name on remnants of a blackboard from one of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) schools – at least 17 UNRWA schools are buried under the rubble caused by Israeli airstrikes. Still there must be at least one chalkboard somewhere he can sign.
The former US VP could sign his name with a Sharpie on plastic sheeting which serves as walls in more than 26 out of 36 hospitals in Gaza damaged by Israeli bombs. More than 94 healthcare facilities in Gaza have been destroyed since October 7, killing more than 600 people and injuring more than 700.
Let’s not stop there. He can sign plaster casts on children’s arms and legs – always a fun thing to do. Pence doesn’t have enough days left in his life to sign the casts on the thousands of Palestinian kids’ arms and legs. On a nastier note, he’ll have to first weed through about 1,000 children in Gaza who are amputees because of Israeli missile attacks and those whose limbs have been crushed under collapsed buildings due to unmanned drone strikes.
But why stop there? While he is in the Holy Land – since he is a conservative evangelical Christian – maybe he can stop by what’s left of the Holy Family Church in Rafah, Gaza. Israeli missiles struck it without warning. More than 50 disabled people were sheltering there – but no matter. Two women worshippers, Nahida Anton and her daughter Samar were deliberately shot dead by IDF snipers as they walked through the courtyard to use the toilets.
Church buildings were mostly destroyed by “targeted” missile hits at the same time – but I’m sure Mike is welcome to visit.Maybe he can lend a hand to serve meals to the poor – as he did at Christmas time at the Wheeler Mission in his hometown of Indianapolis .
If there’s enough food at the Holy Family Church, which there isn’t.
There is not a lot of demand for his kind of charity in Gaza now that 335,000 children are starving and more than 1.2 million are at risk of famine. Most children are living on 1.5 litres of water a day – 50 percent less than what is required for mere survival.
Pence could donate money to help rebuild Khan Younis or Rafah.
He is doing well financially – he earns more than $100,000 per speech. His book So Help Me God is a bestseller but hey, that’s probably not why he wrote it. He got $3-4 million from publishers Simon and Schuster in advance to write two books back when he left office in 2021.
Pence is not hurting.
But Gaza is burning, more than 23,017 have died. Over 10,000 are children. Nearly four hundred healthcare workers, including doctors, have been killed. One hundred journalists – almost all Palestinians – have been killed in Gaza; two more journalists were killed and another seriously injured on January 7 by a targeted Israeli missile strike. According to witnesses, their vehicle was targeted by the Israelis because they were trying to interview civilians displaced by previous bombings. One of the dead was Hamza Dahdouh, the 27-year-old son of veteran journalist Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza Bureau Chief. In October, his wife, son, daughter and grandson were killed by an Israeli air strike. Now his oldest son, also a journalist for Al Jazeera – is dead.
Judy Haiven (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Halifax member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, and a principal of Equity Watch, a Nova Scotia based non-profit that fights against discrimination, sexism and bullying at work.
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