Categories
Poetry

Gaza 2014

A Catalog of my Silences

This is a catalog of my silence
A record of words unsaid
Of failed guarantees, muted testimonies
Of going on, despite the calls of the dead. 
The Afghan dead–in thousands
The raped and tortured bodies of Bosnia
Of young girls plucked from schools
Latter day concubines under ancient rites. 
And of Gaza!
Yes, Gaza–the last concentration camp!
Yes, we should have the guts to name it so.
A walled city–with twenty-four feet tall concrete walls
And two closely guarded gates.
And YOU call this wall a fence!
Such elegant bullshit.
Like calling camel turd, mangoes.
Yes this is a record of my silences
A catalog of my complicities
and of my bourgeois cowardice.
For not speaking the truth
For not SHOUTING!
YOU are not victims any more
YOU with tanks, guns, and warships
YOU are murderers enabled by us
To slowly kill an inconvenient people.
To possess their land
In the name of a history of victimhood!
I shall say no more.
Your actions disgust me!
And your rationalizations are just a pack of shit.
And shit can never be mangoes!

Categories
Editorials

Netanyahu: Offering Old Cliches in a New Wolrd

The Likud Party led by Benjamin Netanyahu wins...
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Last week witnessed, yet again, a visit by yet another Israeli prime  minister to the capital of the United States to offer the same age-old cliches to a group of fawning American lawmakers. It seems when it comes to the actions and the statements of the state of Israel, one ought to apply an out-of-the-world logic to understand it. Our earthly logic and the international treaties and policies, it seems, do not apply to the state of Israel.

Like all of the US lawmakers, I often try to inhabit this otherworldly space to understand the things that come out of the august mouths of Israeli leaders and those of their American counterparts, but lately I have, due to my deep investment in the world I live in, not been able to inhabit this deep space plane of existence. But to reduce this divine logic to our earthly consciousness is an interesting exercise.

So this is how the Israeli statements go:

  • A 1967 border between Israel and Palestine is indefensible.
  • It will leave thousands of Israelis outside the official territory of the state of Israel.
  • The Palestinians cannot be granted the right of return as it would “dilute” the Jewish state.

And the US lawmakers, who usually cannot take a leak without mentioning “Freedom” and “Rights” and “Human Dignity”, applaud these bizarre and out of touch statements of a leader whose nation has starved thousands of people for the last three years in what could be termed as the last existing concentration camp, Gaza.

So here is what all these cliched and hackneyed statements by Mr. Netanyahu imply: Since the original border of Israel is somehow indefensible, Israel, therefore, has the right to conquer and keep territories outside that border in a sort of imperial eminent domain. And since against the Geneva Convention on changing the demographics of a captured territory Israel has allowed illegal settlements to flourish in this occupied territory–required for a defensible Israel–the only way of keeping this illegally acquired territory is to make the act of their capture, somehow, legal. And even though the UN charter clearly states that all refugees will have a right to return to their original place of domicile, the Palestinians somehow must give up this universal right to accommodate their oppressors.

And we must accept this because Israel, as we are repeatedly told, is the only true democracy in the region. Needless to point out, this same democracy is based in an ethnic and religious view of the nation according to which all those outside this particular definition are not really full citizens and must always inhabit a second class status within the democratic state of Israel.

But while Mr. Netanyahu spouts these age-old cliches and while the US congress giggles like a bunch of unimaginative teenagers, the world around Israel is changing quickly. Besides the spring uprisings, this was also the first year when people from all neighboring countries flocked to the Israeli borders in large numbers to protest the racist and inhuman policies of the state of Israel. These instances of popular protest are likely to increase in the future and as the neighboring states become more and more democratic, Israel will have to contend with “democratic” Arab states whose leaders must, on the surface, represent the popular will and not just the US and Israeli interests in the region. The change is already there: the opening of Rafah border crossing by Egypt is a sign that the neighboring Arab states can no longer be a party to the long slow starvation of Palestinian people in the name of security.

So it seems that Mr. Netanyahu’s deep space logic will soon stop making any sense to most of the world and to quite a few of his own citizens; this will happen because increasingly people have started feeling more comfortable with earth logic and want to see their leaders to make an effort in speaking in human-speak instead of an alien language that only makes sense to the starry-eyed US lawmakers and the zealots who rely on politics fear and hate to maintain the status quo.

So, wake up America: if freedom and human dignity is your main chant and leading mantra then please explain to me why it does not apply to the Palestinians?

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Categories
Commentaries

Egypt to Keep Rafah Crossing Open

In the latest turn of events from Gaza, Egyptian government has decided to keep the Rafah crossing, the only one on Egyptian side, open indefinitely. Their main argument is that the blockade has not worked and that Israel needs to find another way of dealing with Hamas.

This is certainly welcome news, for at least now Egypt, a major Arab nation in the region, despite its fears of Hamas, will no longer be a party to the illegal starvation and deprivation of Palestinian people.

It has been reported that Vice President Biden has also met the Egyptian leaders to seek a comprehensive solution to the problem. He might also want to clear this with Israelis, as the last time he visited Israel for the purpose of peace, he was given a surprise “gift” by the Israeli government.

But for now, at least some Palestinians can leave and some essential supplies can be brought in. Thank you Egypt for discovering your spine and for doing the right thing.

Addendum:

To view how people who stand for justice and peace are treated, visit the Jewish Voice for Peace blog to see what was said to their activists by Stand With Us members.

Categories
Commentaries

Israel: Killing Peace in International Waters

The news has barely hit the networks, but the spin has already begun: The BBC Video on the killing of peace activists by the IDF suggests in its tone as if it is an accident, as the IDF soldiers are highly trained and accustomed to these kind of operations. Another speculation is that, somehow, these peace activists took away the guns from these “highly trained soldiers” leading to excessive use of force. if the case was not so serious, one would just die laughing at this spin. This was no ragtag relief effort by a few volunteers; In fact, it was a highly organized and aptly supported venture by peace activists from all parts of the world. The group included, amongst other volunteers, the following supporters of food aid to the interned city of Gaza:

Haaretz reports that at least 10 activists have been killed. Al-Jazeera reportsthat as many as 16 activists are dead. The names of the dead are not yet known. The flotilla passengers included retired US diplomats Amb. Edward Peck and Col. Ann Wright, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, and former UN assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, as well as humanitarian aid and human rights workers, several Members of Parliament from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Malaysia, and Palestinian Members of the Knesset. (Jewish Voice for Peace).

The city of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has been under Israeli blockade for over two years. This collective punishment, illegal under all international laws, has caused extreme suffering. And while the Israelis claim that the blockade does not seriously affect Palestinian lives,

the World Health Organization vigorously contests Israeli officials’ protestations that their siege of Gaza lets through enough food and material. In fact, there is widespread unemployment, poverty, lack of medicine and medical equipment, and hunger in Gaza, and 10 percent of residents (a majority of them children) are physically stunted from malnutrition. (Cited from Informed Comment).

How this is supposed to help bring peace and to improve perception of Israel in the rest of the world is beyond me. It has not made a dent into some of my neighbor’s views though. In their views, as always, “the IDF always knows what is going on” and “these people have been fighting for centuries” tends to explain the whole situation. It seems even now the age-old platitudes are enough to underwrite the racialized views of these people.

Obviously, the purpose of the blockage is to break the will of the people of Gaza, but it has not worked. It is time for Israel to realize that you cannot be an oppressors  and victims simultaneously.  The oppression and now these killings are not likely to work. Peace would, if you give it a chance.

(Image from Dawn.com)

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