Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Envy of the Survivors

"Letter from Gaza: Sometimes the dead are envied

Posted by Mazin Qumsiyeh in Untagged

It was not possible to sleep here for two nights now. The events and the images of death and carnage of children, of policemen, of people that look like my mother and my son and my sister and my friends were simply too much.

Gaza has run out of stretchers and many are now carried to hospitals (which are running out of supplies) and morgues on commercial street signs, in blankets or simply by their limp limbs. Three mosques were destroyed. I recalled the Israeli attacks on the Church of Nativity which was minor compared to this.

I was watching Israel shell the University in Gaza city including its faculty of science and a residence dorm for female students and was thinking of my university and my lab and office at Bethlehem University. I was then shocked into more horrific scenes and news. In one house five young sisters killed. In another six family members including four children killed while eating breakfast. In a scene that haunted me where four children were killed with their mother, I saw rescue workers try frantically to pull the remaining surviving girl whose legs were crushed under a huge boulder from the roof. As some of them were calming her down and working hard, just next to them other workers pulled the dead body of her sister (looked like 3-4 year old). They quickly covered her but I think her sister noticed. Sometimes the dead are envied for their suffering has ended. Her suffering is just beginnig. I thought of all the thousands of relatives of all the victims and how they feel…..I thought of friends I lost and talks with people in Gaza...I thought of my mother who at 76 has seen so much suffering and still she cried at the new images of new atrocities…

My heart aches and struggles with my scientist brain. The latter wants to focus on facts and figures. The attack in its second day was in the words of Israeli leaders “the beginning” and is intended “to send Gaza back decades”. So far over 300 were killed and over 1000 injured (200 of those critically), 35% women, children and elderly. I examine numbers of homes, police stations, civil society building destroyed. I read the Al Mezan Center for human rights which rationally states that most Gaza victims are civilians 1. But even my rational mind refuses to deal with these things. How could it handle just that one image of the young girl’s anguished pained look under the rubble of her house and so tears stream down again to to try to wash the image to no avail…..How could my mind examine rationally the statements of “leaders” saying this carnage is not the fault of the bombers and war criminals, but of Hamas!

Protests were organized around the world and more are being planned 2. The demonstrations helped vent some frustration and we hope will herald a reawakening of the heart of humanity that has been sputtering. But we hope it will go much farther to changing the rotted system of elites in power ignoring people’s rights for political expediency and for profit.

In the Bethlehem demonstration, we pounded on the permanently closed gate of the apartheid wall with deafening sound and the soldiers in the tower started to through stun grenades and tear gas. Injuries were sustained for activists....Our lungs still ache but our hearts ache more for the criminality of the apartheid regime, and the collaboration of the world governments. The Israeli occupation army killed two protesters with live ammunition in other parts of the West Bank 3.

Can someone asks western media or the Wetsern governments ruled by elite racists who keep spouting the nonsense about "Hamas" and "rockets" (projectiles that are militarily of little use and have no explosives, killed one person this year), why targeting civilian police stations, mosques, homes with children, ports, fishing vessels, streets, and more in one of the most densely populated areas on earth murdering hundreds of civilians would be an acceptable action (I don’t say response because Israel was killing people and massacring them for 60 years before)? And what would they expect from a starving 1.5 million people to do? Especially when one million of those are refugees or displaced people denied their rights to return to their homes and lands for 60 years while settlers live across the borders on their lands in areas like “Sderot” and “Netviot”? Would they not expect some resistance from some of those? Isn’t that codified in International law for the right of occupied people to resist including violently? (note that I personally support civil forms of resistance). Even if one buys the US/Israeli government propaganda, would it be acceptable to bomb cities in Europe and the US for any perceived or actual crime of a portion of their society or even their leaders (Bush and Blair in Iraq?)?

But again I think it is not best for me to try and reason things through in such times of calamities and little sleep. I got so many letters of support but please redirect your letters and energies elsewhere. Redirect them to challenge the injustice directly 4. Jesus made a statement directly relevant for us today:

"You are the earth's salt. But if the salt should become tasteless, what can make it salt again? It is completely useless and can only be thrown out of doors and stamped under foot. You are the world's light - it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house.”

It is thus the time when people who claim they want peace and justice to stop talking about it and actually work for it. Put your lamp higher. It is time for real change...It is time for a world Intifada (uprising against injustice). It is time to do something concrete (like throwing our shoes at someone?)