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Palestinians are human beings, too [Letter]

I am deeply disturbed by the headline, "Sharp rise in Gaza deaths," which carried the subhead, "13 Israeli soldiers, 70 others killed; Kerry to seek end to fighting" (July 21).

I just want to share a little bit with you about what my life was like two nights ago. I have a friend from Gaza who now lives in Boston, but her entire extended family lives in the Shejaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza which was under heavy bombardment. It is where most of those 70 "other" deaths that your headline reported on happened. Her name is Suhad.

I spent my night texting Suhad as she reported live the massacre of Shejaiyeh to me from first-hand accounts of cousins she was able to reach intermittently on cell phones. I spent my night literally texting the useless impotent words: "Oh my God" and "I am so sorry" or "Praying with you" to Suhad over and over again as she tried to account for all her loved ones. I watched the coverage of the bombardment and its horrific aftermath live online and listened to the play-by-play of death and survival narrated by Suhad's cousin all night long.

The rest of the world and specifically your readership in Baltimore and beyond depend on you — editors and journalists alike — to tell them what is happening in Gaza. And you have failed to do so when you further dehumanized the Palestinian men, women, and children who were indiscriminately killed by Israeli forces by referring to them as "other." This kind of decision on your part has very real consequences for perception and understanding, and it represents a true low for journalism.

Palestinians have names. They have mothers and fathers and children and loved ones. They bleed red like all the rest of us. There are no others in this conflict. Names matter. My name is Lena. My friend's name is Suhad. We and all Palestinians are not "others." Names matter.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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