the desperate belief that writing to you matters
Friday afternoon, i read (and send out an email informing) that two men had been assassinated in a targeted air strike in Gaza- only a day after Zakaria Abu Aram was shot dead with life ammunition in the West Bank town of Yatta (I quoted Maan news in saying he was 22, but more reliable reports say Zakaria was 15 or 16).
afterwards, I asked a few friends if they had time to investigate a bit more about Zakaria and write up an adequate profile of him. I thought (and said) that this was very crucial, that we cannot let martyrs of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice remain mere statistics; that we had to make people know more than just their names (if even that), make them know about their lives, about their families, about what they had been doing that morning, what they had planned to do that evening; that we had to somehow get people to identify with them, see them as PEOPLE.
I keep saying that to stir the OUTRAGE and outcry that their murder deserves is our only defense, our only security. We HAVE TO make sure EVERY murder the Israeli colonial military commits costs their public image heavily. I assume my thinking is that if enough people outside of Palestine FEEL the outrage, UNDERSTAND what unacceptable atrocities the Israeli regime continuously commits, KNOW that every Palestinian is as human and as vulnerable and as individual and as deserving of rights as their sisters and brothers and daughters and sons and mothers and fathers, then they would finally act: they would come together, raise their voices and on the one hand join existing civil campaigns that aim at forcing Israel to account for its human rights abuses (such as the global campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions) on the grassroots level, and on the other hand force their own supposed political representatives to apply some real political and economic pressure from above on the power-holding level. things would change, I reason, if people around the world reacted to every brutal slaughter of every innocent Palestinian like they react to murder victims of massive hate crimes in their own vicinities (think back, wasn’t there a terrible killing some years ago in the country you lived in? didn’t you see the images of the children, the women, the elderly men lying on the floor, covered in blood, maybe with limbs missing, and relatives screaming and crying and tearing at their bodies in pain, with portraits of individuals and their hopes and plans and their feelings? didn’t you feel sick in your stomach, sick and afraid and absolutely convinced that SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE TO MAKE SURE THAT SUCH INDESCRIBABLE CRUELTY WILL NOT BE REPEATED?).
even though – with so much to do in the Palestinian struggle for liberation and justice and with the massiveness of the wall of indifference we are trying to break – it is hard to summon the motivation to research and disseminate personalized accounts on every individual murdered through Israeli aggression, I feel strongly about this. I somehow link the dissemination of such accounts to even the slightest hope for justice: if we let them remain numbers, their deaths have gone without ANY consequences – and that is not only UNACCEPTABLE in itself, but it also extinguishes any hope for safety and justice for the rest of us out there.
Friday, I left with hopes that someone would compose a portray of Zakaria
back to Friday: I asked my friends to do the portrayal because I would be away for the weekend and by Monday, his murder would be old news – and we still haven’t managed to write anything more about Tal’at Ramiya.
Sunday afternoon, while hiking back after a few days in the beautiful nature of a very different country, I thought of getting back online later at night and noted that I did not feel that much of the anxiety about what news from Palestine I would find that I usually feel when I have been out of reach for a few days. I was worried, but it wasn’t too bad.
and then I came back and saw that since Friday, another wave of brutal air strikes had been unleashed on the people of the Gaza strip. I felt numb. I went to bed. And since yesterday morning, I am struggling to find the words to write SOMETHING about this, and I still feel inadequate.
I want to make you understand that since Friday, 12 year old Ayoub Useila and 24 others have been murdered through air strikes in the Gaza strip; that on Friday alone, a total of 12 Palestinians were murdered, eleven others were injured, and several homes damaged; that many were murdered by one of the “best”-equipped armies bombing their heads off; that mothers break down at the sight of the mangled bodies of their children; that, today alone, 65 year old Mohammed al Hussoumi and his 30 year old daughter Faiza were murdered when they were bombed while working on their lands in Beit Lahiya, 14 year old Nayef Qarmut was murdered when he stopped with some friends near a gas station on his way home from school, that four others were murdered in circumstances I would yet have to research; that so far, at least 73 people were injured, many of them severely, many of them women and children; that I don’t even know how many houses were destroyed when they were bombed while their inhabitants were sleeping or eating or talking or LIVING in them (video of the ruins of one such bombing).
this brutal wave of heightened Israeli aggression has been building up for weeks
and how can I convey that I am not surprised; that two weeks ago, I had already said to some friends that I thought the Israeli regime would once again unleash another wave of heightened brutality on the non-Jews in occupied Palestine; that on Friday, before writing that email to you, a friend in Palestine and I were speculating about the reasons for Israel’s interest in escalating things just now (he thought they meant to disrupt the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fateh, I thought that there must be another reason as the reconciliation is still a never-ending farce that can neither threaten, nor excite anyone yet. Here is a very good article that I not only agree with but that also summarizes HOW this most recent wave of aggression has really started last Friday).
the excuse/Israeli narrative for this most recent and ongoing massacre of civilians in Gaza is the hand-made rockets that militants have launched after Israeli war planes murdered the two men I had emailed about – the recently released former prisoner Mahmoud Huneini and secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committee Zuhair Qaisi – and murdered or injured several fighters and civilians on Friday afternoon, blatantly breaking yet another truce with Gaza factions (read this for more on the “who started it” question).
I am back from my weekend away, we have not written about Zakaria, and I know we won’t. like for many others, it is too hard for me to spend several days focusing on one person when so many others are being killed right now. once again, although I hate this SO MUCH, we are back at numbers.
at this point, I can only mention that Sunday night, Mo’ataz, a young activist whom I admire, was arrested in a night raid in Nabi Saleh, that several other young men whom I don’t know were arrested in night raids in the past two nights, that prominent Israeli figures are urging for much more indiscriminate murders of Palestinians in Gaza, that eleven prisoners in Asqelan prison (very close to the Gaza strip) were injured when Israeli prison forces broke into their cells and attempted to violently force them to submit to naked body searches or that prisoners in Gilboa prison are being punished for exercising acts in solidarity with administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, whose health is rapidly deteriorating as she entered her fourth week of hunger strike.
I don’t know how to phrase this any differently, I urge you, I plead with you to have a look at this and to read some of the links above.