Local acts are not symbolic, they put pression on Biden administration, elected officials

"I don't need guns; I need a fire extinguisher!" These resounding words roamed through the headlines, recounting the desperate plea of the US Secret Service agent to save Aaron Bushnell.

Bushnell, an active-duty Air Force member, set himself ablaze in front of the Israeli Embassy on a fateful Sunday afternoon. The US Secret Service attempts to quell the fiery act while an Israeli security points out a gun at Bushnell as he burns.

His desperate act, captured in a three-minute video, was a protest against what he saw as complicity in genocide.

“This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal,” he said in his three-minute video.

His final words were “Free Palestine” as the fire consumed his body.

A police report says Bushnell suffered from mental distress. It’s hard to witness all these children being killed and not feel distressed.

Shams Mustafa
Shams Mustafa

Bushnell's extreme action demands us to confront the uncomfortable truths about our global priorities and compels us to question the very foundations of our collective humanity.

Being a hero doesn’t only require self-sacrifice, it involves the bravery to raise one's voice against injustice. This is what we can do.

Gaza, a land marred by relentless bombings and mass displacements, has witnessed the loss of nearly 29,782 lives, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.

Civilians desperately in need of humanitarian aid

Those who were not killed in the bombing are facing hunger, cold and illness. The United Nations reports civilians in Gaza desperately need humanitarian aid, yet the Israeli Defense Forces impede its delivery by shooting at aid trucks.

As of today, the IDF launched an unstoppable bombing on Rafah, the area where they forced people to flee.

The traumatized survivors, including innocent children, now bear the scars of a conflict that shows no sign of abating. The question that resonates is when faced with such adversity, who among us can truly remain silent?

All of this is happening with the blessings of the Biden administration. For the third time in a row, the US was the only country to veto the UN ceasefire resolution.

Israelis block a road as they demand the release of the hostages from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip during a protest outside of the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 5, 2024.
Israelis block a road as they demand the release of the hostages from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip during a protest outside of the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 5, 2024.

US leaders seem deaf to the cries of the oppressed

While millions worldwide rally for peace, our leaders seem deaf to the cries of the oppressed, leaving us to wonder whether our tax dollars should fund the perpetuation of suffering abroad.

Instead of allocating $14.1 billion to support Israel and contributing to the destruction of a nation, why not redirect these funds to address pressing national issues? Investing in our people can tackle challenges like poverty, homelessness, and the underfunding of struggling school districts. We need to prioritize the well-being of our citizens over supporting foreign conflicts.

Last year, The Daily Record reported nearly 117 people living in shelters or on the streets in Wayne County. Meanwhile, a recent assessment by the Wayne County Health Department reveals a rising trend in mental health issues, substance abuse, depression, and suicidal ideation.

Local actions matter. If our senators in Ohio can’t hear us, then we need to be louder.

In Ohio, Athens, Akron and Toledo passed a resolution to support a ceasefire. When will Wayne County municipalities adopt a similar resolution?

Most resolution language came to acknowledge victims on both sides, stop the war and allow humanitarian aid in Gaza. It’s not a conversation that aims to cause divisiveness within the community. Choosing to ignore it will only bring more division than unity.

Palestinian Americans represent a very small population in Wayne County. They belong to the communities they live in and they expect the community to feel their grief.

These local actions are not just symbolic; they exert pressure on the Biden administration and elected officials to listen to their constituents. The power to effect change lies within each of us. Let Aaron Bushnell's sacrifice not be in vain.

Shams Mustafa is a freelance journalist for the Wooster Daily Record. She came to the U.S. from Egypt and lives with her husband and children in Orrville.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Call for Wayne County municipalities to support ceasefire in Gaza