Gaza and Gezi Park

I’m terribly conflicted when it comes to Israel and Palestine. But no government should be allowed to kill 60 people without their story being questioned. So that’s what I do with today’s video.

If you want to learn more about my experience at Gezi park, and how it sort of launched this YouTube channel, you can check out this video here.

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Video Transcript after the jump…

Hey there. On Monday the Israeli Defense Forces killed 60 protesters in Gaza.

Long time viewers know that I’m a coward when it comes to covering Israel and Palestine. I don’t want to offend my large audience in the Muslim world, but I also don’t want to offend my large audience of reflexively Zionist folks in the United States either. I’m also pretty conflicted myself. So I avoid the issue. I’ve got a number of scripts written, or half-written on the topic, and they will get out there eventually, but I just haven’t read enough yet.

I can say something today though. The Israeli government has put forward a number of explanations for Monday’s slaughter. They claim that the protesters had molotov cocktails, or were throwing rocks, or had flaming kites or whatever. These are the stories they use to justify using snipers against a largely unarmed crowd. At least 60 people are dead, and over 2,700 have been wounded.

Today I’m not going to weigh in on the sufferings of the people of Gaza, the anniversary of the founding of Israel, or the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. I haven’t read enough. But I can talk about personal experience. And I’ve been on the scene for a massive mostly peaceful protest. One that was dramatically larger and more intense than the one that prompted the Israeli government to kill 60 people on Monday.

In May of 2013 I was living in Istanbul Turkey, in a neighborhood just down the street from Taksim Square. Taksim is kind of like Times Square in New York City. It’s the transit hub for Istanbul, and it’s sort of the cultural heart of the city. In May of 2013, a park in that square, Gezi park became the focus of a national uprising. In those first days, protesters quite literally battled with Turkish police, and managed to take Taksim square, building large barricades, and effectively occupying the heart of a city of 15 million.

They held It for almost two weeks. It wasn’t just Istanbul, there were protests throughout the entire country. 67 cities apparently. I had to walk through Taksim Square to get home from work every day. I got tear gassed a lot, and I saw what a mass uprising actually is. Most protesters were peaceful, but I saw protesters throwing rocks every day. Later on, some protesters started using fireworks against the riot police. I personally saw a lot of that too. At the peak of the protests in the first weeks of June of 2013, there were easily a million people out on the streets across the country.

Do you know how many people died?

22. Across the whole country. In a solid month of nationwide uprising, involving millions of people. And very few people were shot. Some of these deaths happened because of simple exhaustion. Most were people who were hit in the head with tear gas canisters.

The US medis claims that Turkey’s crushing of these protests in 2013 was brutal. If that’s true then Israel’s actions yesterday can only be described as murderous.

Israel, one of the most militarily advanced countries in the world, with decades of experience of dealing with protests, supposedly had no choice but to murder 60 people on Monday. With snipers.

That is a lie. That is a foul lie.

I remain very conflicted about Israel and Palestine. But days like yesterday are making me much less so.


And to the families who lost loved ones yesterday, all I can say is that I am so, so sorry. I know that’s not worth much.