I remained silent
We mustn't look the other way when blood of some becomes worth less than others
Laila M. El-Haddad
"Withdrawing" implies, in whatever vague and euphemistic sense, an end, or at least, a waning of hostilities. But yesterday I woke to discover that the Israeli army has perpetrated a massacre on a scale unseen in Gaza for a long time: 18 dead, including children, women, and the countless faceless others.
All members of the same family. Brushed aside as unfortunate mistakes, with a generous dollop of regret, from an otherwise morally superior, well-intentioned army.
Israeli human rights groups have said it again and again, and it bears reminding once more: There can be no good intentions deriving from an army ordered to fire heavy-grade artillery shells within 100 meters of civilian areas. None.
And I am sick to my stomach. I am sick of hearing the "we regrets" and "sorries" and the empty promises of investigations that never materialize and whose only purpose is to exonerate the accused. I am sick of the well-intentioned "moral" army of "defense" routine, the army that only attempts to attack "militants", as if to imply the entire occupation is justified if sustained by this absurdist rhetoric. I'm just sick of it all.
We want an end to the occupation. Period. To quote Peace Now, instead of apologizing, stop the war against us. So much energy and enthusiasms devoted to death and destruction and debilitation and asphyxiation and occupation - so little devoted to ending it all.
When such a massacre occurs, in addition to the anger and frustration, I cannot help but feel lonely and abandoned and afraid.
It is the feeling we all have as Palestinians, the feeling which boils inside of us, sometimes drowning us with its complexity and force and unrequitedness. To quote Mahmoud Darwish:
“We are alone. We are alone to the point
of drunkenness with our own aloneness,
with the occasional rainbow visiting.”
And don’t think for one moment that this somehow does not affect you, whoever you are, as you recoil in your comfort zone, choosing consciously to look the other way. It affects all of us - Israelis, Palestinians, humankind - when humans become less human, when their blood becomes worth less than ours. Niemöller’s poem rings truer than ever:
"They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."
Let us add to the famous poem:
"Then they came for the Palestinians, but I remained silent, for I was not Palestinian".
Laila M. El-Haddad is a journalist who lived in the Gaza Strip and author of the blog Raising Yousuf