It’s so hard to find any adequate words to describe the current nightmare in Palestine/Israel, or to describe my feelings about it. Instead, I offer that which I wrote in November 2012–the last viewing of this horror show. Cut and paste a few terms (for example, “Operation Protective Edge” instead of “Operation Pillar of Defense” and changes the references to “last time this happened” to “two times ago when this happened” and everything below is still, tragically, maddeningly, completely relevant. Because we’re seeing the same thing all over again. And again. What’s easy to lost sight of: the human lives impacted in “Round 3” are every bit as precious as they were in November 2012. And December/January 2008/9.
November 16, 2012
My cell phone rang at 2am this morning. It was my friend Munir, calling me from Gaza.
“Jen, can you hear the bombs?” he asked me.
As the madness in Gaza and Israel descends into more and more bloody horror, I know that I need to say something, yet am left wordless.
All I can do is to try to hold up a reminder of what should be so clear: that the human lives on the receiving end of the bombs and the rockets matter—all of them.
I know and I love Israelis who live within rocket range (and that number of people grows as rockets hit places previously unreachable, like Tel Aviv and near Jerusalem) and I know and I love Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who are huddling in their homes as hundreds of missiles and bombs explode around them, with worse expected to come.
I am making no claims of parity, as power and military capability is grossly imbalanced, and the context is one of decades-long occupation and on-going siege. Terrifying as I imagine it is in Ashkelon, I know that the horror that children in Gaza are enduring and have endured overwhelms the imagination.
I am, however, unequivocally stating this: My friends’ children in Tel Aviv are not safer, but less safe, because of Operation “Pillar of Defense”, and the precious toddlers that I recently visited in the Gaza Strip are no closer to living in security, freedom and dignity because rockets are shot into Israeli cities. The children who are being traumatized (and, in the case of children in Gaza, severely re-traumatized) are all, every one of them, innocent—and there is no justification for what they are being forced to endure. Unequal though the situation is, I insist on holding them all in my worry, because they are all under attack, and all their lives matter—equally.
So—without new words to write, I can offer instead only endeavors I have made in the past: to illustrate the humanity that is so often dehumanized, and to expose the unjustifiable devastation that is always the consequence of military action replacing a true effort to seek peace with dignity and equality for all.
With that in mind, here is a short film that I made about one family’s story during the last onslaught in Gaza:
Here is a blog post I wrote about visiting my friend Amer Shurrab’s family in Khan Younis, a few months after his brothers were killed.
Here is an article I wrote about my friend Abeer, who went into labor with her first baby the last time bombs rained down on Gaza with this kind of fury.
And here are two articles, Gaza Under Hamas, Gaza Under Siege, and In Gaza, Circles of Hell, that hopefully serve as a reminder of the dehumanizing conditions that Palestinians in Gaza have been living under for years.
My colleague and dear friend Sami Al Jundi said best what I want most to say:
“My children will be safe only when your children know safetly, and your children will be safe only when my children know safety.”
But then, Sami corrected himself:
“Actually, there’s no such thing as my children and your children. There’s only our children.”
With fear for all our children,