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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

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30,000 and counting

That's it. That’s the tagline, the trigger warning, the conclusion.

Over 30,000 corpses. 

That's it. That’s the tagline, the trigger warning, the conclusion. It most certainly is not complete nor close to accurate, nor will it ever be, and it also does not consider the additional 70,000 injured. But if you must take something away from this column, let it be that over 30,000 Palestinians have senselessly been slaughtered like cattle at the hands of Israel and the United States. 

Naturally, this is an uncomfortable thing to discuss. It has been going on for so long, can’t we just shut up about it already? God, we must fear for our discomfort! How terrible to hear about these atrocities. Now, imagine experiencing them. 

For the sake of avoiding the censorship of this article, I will restrain from explicit violent descriptions. Though know that, even if I didn't, my words would never depict the true scale or horrors of this barbarity we call Israel’s “right to defend itself.” What a laughably disingenuous descriptor some of us have used for the Palestinian Genocide.

Nevertheless, permit yourself to imagine even a fraction of it. Imagine experiencing over five months of relentless bombardment on the open-air prison you call home whose essential resources have repeatedly been illegally seized, whose schools, hospitals, reporting agencies and religious sites have been indiscriminately brutalized without the slightest care of civilians inside. Quite the opposite, they very eagerly have targeted civilians, even going as far as flaunting it on video online

Imagine that on top of all of that, you are blamed for it. Imagine that people treat you like a fool, pretending Zionism does not violate the most fundamental pillars of Judaism, pretending these murderers, perpetrators and abusers are, in fact, the true victims. Imagine witnessing the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and various human rights advocacy groups all clamor against the obvious, against your evident abuse, only for them to be vilified and economically punished with no evidence. Imagine being told that genocide is anything but simple, as if there was a hidden nuance in the execution of your son, of your mother, of your husband. 

Imagine waiting and hoping for humanitarian aid in the middle of the night of February 29th, for scraps handed to you by your very violators, only for Israeli troops to open fire and massacre over a hundred people searching for nothing but food to survive. Imagine having multiple reporters present on this event detailing what happened, only for Israel to repeatedly change its story from denial to technicisms to pathetic excuses, as it has done many times before on its countless bloodbaths. Imagine seeing how this genocidal regime openly demonstrates its crimes to the international community over and over without restraint, knowing it has got the United States, leaders of the free world, lovers of democracy, to cover its back at every murder. 

Of course, you can’t imagine that. No one but them can. 

What were you doing on February 29th? Leap Day! My greatest worry that day was my Linear Algebra exam and my Duolingo streak. And to think the taxes I am shortly to pay for the first time will go straight into purchasing bullets to shred civilian Palestinians.

God, how could any of us ever imagine such a world?

“Oh rascal children of Gaza. You who constantly disturbed me with your screams under my window. You who filled every morning with rush and chaos. You who broke my vase and stole the lonely flower on my balcony. Come back, and scream as you want and break all the vases. Steal all the flowers. Come back…Just come back.”

— Khaled Juma, a Palestinian poet from Gaza.

And thus, I write two open letters.

To the ironically named Israeli Defense Force, to all assisting United States government branches, to homicidal Netanyahu, genocide Biden and their respective callous, lying cabinets, to Republicans and Democrats alike who greenlit the multiple blank checks for Israel, to the American and Israeli United Nations ambassadors impeding justice, to warmongering lobbyists and every agent in the military industrial complex, to the greedy and inhumane profiteering companies, to every Zionist apologist and cognitively dissonant propagandist, to every complicit genocidal supporter, silent or idiotically loud on Twitter alike, 

May the children’s blood on your hands never wash away. May the screams of the innocent haunt your every day, choke your every breath, overwhelm your every thought. I know you will not go to bed remorseful, for I know you have no conscience. Frankly, you may never face the guilt you deserve. Nevertheless, if there is a hell, you have reserved your place in it. You will most certainly never meet your God, however twisted your depictions of them may be. History will always remember you for the miserable, bloodthirsty, soulless, monstrous creature you were, whose actions made the world a worse place than what it could have been had you never existed.

To those who remain human,

I say rage.

Rage, rage against this madness. 

Rage, rage against the dying of humanity, against the apathy disguised as ignorance, against this broken country led by broken people. 

This world is not cruel, these people are. Do not believe them when they speak of ceasefires and peace talks, for this is the language of abusers who have had the ability to stop at any moment. Do not believe them when they speak of human rights, for they only believe in them when convenient. Do not believe them when they speak of humanity, for they have none. 

It is our hand they may be forcing, but we need not be complicit. We need not drive ourselves into delusion and not see the blood being shed with our taxes. We must demand answers and rightful action from our supposedly democratically elected leaders. We must organize against external influences corrupting our society from the core, built on greed and hatred. Donate, boycott, protest. But above all else, scream! Shout! Change and steel your hearts and hold true not to what is comfortable, not to what you are told, but to what is right. Let it be known that when the innocent were slaughtered, when the world turned a blind eye to this injustice, you did not stand by idly!

If not now, when? How many more must die at the hands of our representatives and institutions before we permit ourselves to be bothered, even slightly vexed? How many massacres must be excused by false miscommunications, by pretending Hamas was actually hiding inside that school or inside that hospital or deep inside that child’s skull? 

How much more can you tolerate?

The morning of February 25th, Aaron Bushnell logged into his Facebook account and wrote the following:

“Many of us like to ask ourselves, 'What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?' The answer is, you're doing it. Right now.”

Later on that day, just two hours later, Aaron would die.

This column is written in his honor. 

Around noon, dressed in his Air Force military fatigues, the 25-year old serviceman approached the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. while streaming live through an online platform. With a bottle of flammable liquid in his hand, he began to speak.

Multiple news outlets, social media websites and evil agents have censored, misconstrued or outright lied about Aaron’s words and intentions. I believe we should let Aaron speak for himself. This was not a mentally ill man. This was not a political extremist. This was not a dangerous lunatic. Quite the opposite, he was more lucid than many. This was a man more human than anyone permitting this genocide. 

Let it be known, a single man with a conscience is worth more than a million soldiers. 

He said:

“Hi. My name is Aaron Bushnell. I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers it's not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

After saying this, Aaron committed an act of self-immolation. 

Ablaze, with his final breath and ultimate ounce of strength, six times he chanted the two words that the entire world ought to hear. 







And then, Aaron went silent forever. 

For him, and so many more, let us never be silent again. 

Carlos A. Basurto is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying philosophy, computer science and even some German on the side. When not busy you can find him consuming yet another 3+ hour-long analysis video of a show he has yet to watch or masochistically completing every achievement from a variety of video games. Now, with the power to channel his least insane ideas, feel free to talk about them via email at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.