Perhaps as much as the bombing, and people fleeing their homes in northern Gaza in anticipation of a bloody invasion, I am frightened by the dehumanization of the very real humans in Gaza that I am bombarded with.
Whether it’s by people labeling them as “terrorists” or “Hamas supporters” or placidly suggesting that they are victimized only by Hamas using them as “human shields”…or by numbers and statistics, or people posting photos of small children with heads blown open, or limbs blown off, causing us to look at these children, not in their human childness, but as gory images…
I want to resist this dehumanization, if only for a moment, by describing the Palestinain human beings that I know in Gaza.
I know pharmacists in Gaza.
I know doctors.
I know people who work for the United Nations, who work for humanitarian organizations, who work for human rights organizations.
I know people who run youth programs and I know teachers.
I know mothers who love their children with a fierce protectiveness.
I know a father whose 9 year old son was executed while he was holding him in arms–and who then struggled with how to raise raise his surviving children without being surrounded by trauma and violence. I know a father who bought his little girls bunny rabbits so they would have something small and cuddlyto hold so his daughters could retain their own humanity and have a chance at growing up emotionally intact.
I know accountants.
I know taxi drivers who have invited me to their home for lunch and introduced me to their families, who I have dodged bullets with and brought cigarettes to during long months of siege.
I know small children who, while living in tents in horrible conditions, wake up in the morning and have their faces scrubbed clean by their big sister and the sand brushed out of their hair with what little water there is so that they can go to school looking fresh and have a chance at learning.
I have friends who are new mothers and new fathers, just figuring out how to meet their infants’ needs.
Many of the young men and women I know I remember as teenagers, when we used to gather at pizza restaurants in Gaza, and in later years gathered at beach-side cafes and smoked arghillas, reminiscing, talking, laughing…
This post will not do anything to end the horrible madness. But my God–if we don’t insist on holding people–all people–in their humanity and reminding ourselves of that every moment of every day–what chance do any of us have?