The Day the Earth and Sky Traded Places - Gazan Shoah
This is not about recounting the bodies, and there was a lot of bodies to count. By best estimates, a bit over a hundred. Ninety of them were civilians, and 25 were children. The pictures of whatever was left of their little bodies, has been on a lot of newspapers and web sites. Nothing I post can add to the pain and anger many of us who are seeking justice and peace feel. Arrogance and pride backed by unlimited military power is blinding the hegemonies of the world, leading them to forget that 'pride comes before the fall' [or as per the original text of the Old Testament -Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."].
But today I want to share with you one of the most emotional recount I read about those several miserable days in Gaza. It is written by Jennifer Loewenstein, associate professor of Middle East Studies in the University of Wisconsin. She is one of a growing number of Jews, Israelis and Westerners that can see through the mud that most media sling against anything that is Arab or Muslim. She lived in Palestine, among Palestinians in Gaza and the West bank.
Her article narrates the thoughts of a Palestinian Gaza resident 'M', whose goals are like anyof us, but his life is not. She also adds her own thoughts at the end.
"Around 10:30pm on the night of February 28, M and his wife S spoke in low tones in a dark room dimly lit by a battery-operated lamp. They were trying to decide if it was still safe to send their children to school and decided in favor because the elementary school building is in a safer part of the city near a number of international offices."Jennifer Loewenstein, who has lived on the 'Western' side of the world most of her life, is painfully aware of how 'selective' the West can be when it comes to empathy and sympathy. We hand pick the people we would like to share our human emotions with, and we deny the 'others' any share of our concern and love.
"This is a black day in Gaza," M wrote; "a holocaust as (Israeli deputy defense minister Matan) Vilnai put it. There is an attack every five or ten minutes. It keeps our nerves on edge and our senses strained. There is so much rage at what is happening; especially the scenes of murdered children and babies. I am so busy I don't know how to describe my feelings. I work to avoid feeling because right now that's too unbearable."
"... rockets fired into the interiors of homes with no knowledge of who is inside. Eye-witnesses report this and worse: a six month old baby girl becomes tiny body parts with her mother and brother. A small child is cut apart by shrapnel and screams that she doesn't want to die just before leaving this world. The mothers and fathers cannot protect them so they weep and scream at the funerals that this side of the world never views, especially during basketball season."She is also very critical of the belligerence and audacity behind the logic of the Israeli government militaristic mentality justifying such operations:
"Who really cares about these children? Every Palestinian is a militant because everyone (sooner or later) wants Israel off their land, out of their lives, and forgotten like a horrible dream. It is for this reason that they are all equal targets"Loewnstein knows very well that it is greed and a sense of entitlement that get in the way of peace and justice.
"Peace would require relinquishing regional hegemony. Peace would demand sharing the land and the resources equally. Peace might, heaven forbid, require democratic decision making in a region where the Israelis are not better, more entitled, more deserving of Their Way than everyone else in the neighborhood."In a super powerful concluding sentence, she alludes to racist and nationalistic attitudes as the underpinning of the current policies and attitudes toward the Palestinians;
"Untermenschen [German for sub-human; a term from Nazi racial ideology used to describe "inferior people"] who can be denied food, water, fuel, electricity, medical supplies, the right to leave and return home, the right to not to die in an ambulance that without the proper permits, the right to their own land and their own nationhood precisely because they are lesser human beings can also be picked off one by one or in groups or in families or because they are "militants," or all of the above, who deserve no fair hearing, due process, photographs, names, headlines, stories, grief or televised tear-jerker funerals to commemorate their sacrifices. In such a world contexts are an insult to the intelligence of the policy-makers."
Please read the article in its entirety on the Tikkun to get the full impact of a very powerful article.
Jennifer Loewenstein is an American Jew who lived for extended periods amongst Arabs in Gaza and writes frequently on Middle East issues with special focus on its human cost. She founded the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and she is a member of the board of the USA branch of Coalition against House Demolition.
I also like to recommend taking a look as the Tikkun web site. This is an informative progressive Jewish web site run by Rabbi Michael Lerner. You will find a lot of interesting articles and discussions (from a liberal humanistic perspective) about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Iraq was, AIPAC and the Israeli lobby in Washington, and USA elections.
Tikkun - Network of spiritual progressives