Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 2nd, 2014

 

The awful decisions I’ve made to protect my Palestinian children from this war

 posted this July 30, 2014

Wejdan Abu Shammala, who was born and raised in Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp, has a masters in human-resources management from Golden Gate University. She is married to a Palestinian German.

Rami (center left), 4, and Maryam (center right), 6, with friends in Germany. (Courtesy of the author.)

My older son was so excited when the Israeli bombing raids began. “Fireworks!” yelled Rami, 4.

“No,” big sister Maryam of 6, replied. “That is fire-bombing.”

“No, it’s fireworks, but a little bit different from what we used to see in Germany,” he replied as Hasan, 2, took everything in, wide-eyed and terrified.

“Okay, okay,” conceded 6-year-old Maryam, wisely. “You are right.” But I knew she was still far too young to understand fully.

My children used to talk about toys, “The Lion King” and books they were reading.

Now they chat endlessly with each other about the war, bombings, shelling and the difference between F-16s and commercial jets.

They want to know how many deaths or injuries occur after every strike.

This is the first war they have endured.

They were born and raised in Germany, so they missed “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-09 and “Operation Pillar of Defense” in 2012.

We came back to Gaza one year ago because my mother was extremely ill (totally blind because of diabetes), and with the Rafah border consistently closed it’s impossible to get someone in her condition to Cairo, let alone to Germany.

Since our return, my children are constantly asking questions.

Why don’t kids in Gaza have playgrounds?

Why do children play in crowded streets?

Why don’t their peers have enough food? It breaks my heart to answer these questions, but at least I know how.

Since the war started, though, I’m stumped more and more often — and the questions are multiplying. What is happening, Mom?

Why are they killing children? (Three of their young second young cousins — Ibrahim, Eman, and Asem — died, along with a pregnant woman and four other children, when Israel fired missiles at their multi-family apartment building.

No military target was identified.) Will we die, too?

Why do they hate us? Don’t they have children?

Games - Click Here for More!

Am I supposed to tell them that, yes, we could die at any time from an incoming shell?

Surely, I shouldn’t tell them about 19 children of the Abu Jamei family who were killed when a missile fired at one person struck them all as they broke the Ramadan fast one recent evening.

How can I explain that, yes, the soldiers who have killed so many children often have children of their own?

How can I persuade them that fireworks in Germany signify joy and celebration, while “fireworks” in Gaza cause death?

The most painful question they’ve asked me is a response to our neurotic nighttime habits. One night, I make all three sleep in the same bedroom with us, hoping to increase the odds they’ll survive if a shell hits one of the empty rooms in our house.

The next night, I’ll separate them, thinking that if I divide my children they won’t all die in an attack. (Unless we’re hit by a half-ton bomb, rather than artillery shell, in which case we’ll all be killed, anyway.)

These are the painful contortions I’d wish on no mother anywhere. Yet, mothers throughout Gaza make these decisions every night — and live with the consequences of one ill-fated move. But how am I supposed to answer when Maryam asks, “Why do we sleep somewhere different each night?

My children, as with all children in Gaza, will need therapy following this carnage. Most, of course, will not receive it.  They will enter adulthood remembering these days and the soldiers, F-16s and drones that were heedless of their nighttime cries and terror.

Their mothers and fathers — unable to guard their children from these horrors — will need psychological help.

And grandparents may have it worse of all, since the midnight terror this month feels terribly like the nights nearly seven decades ago when they were expelled from their homes in what became Israel, never to return.

English composer Brian Eno: addressed the American people

Dear All of You:

I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son.

He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs.

You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans.

The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.

What is going on in America?

I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out.

Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY?

I just don’t get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.

The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me.

But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war?

I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered?

How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ‘America’?

How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem.

Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians.

Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants;

Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below;

The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”.

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace.

While ‘the process’ is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way.

By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re ‘right of return’ Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that ‘Arab’ equates with ‘vermin’ – straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect.

That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the KKK Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents ‘The West’. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy.

The war has no moral justification that I can see – but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian ‘Realpolitik’ sense; it just makes us look bad.

I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations.

None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did.

XXB
‪#‎GazaUnderAttack‬· 

 BOYCOTT from Within: Citizens of State of Israel Charge it with Genocide

Citizens of Israel Charge Israel with Genocide

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Boycott from Within has sent the following letter to the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

We encourage others to do the same at http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/contactform.asp?address=1.

You may use this letter.

Dear Madame/Sir,
We are citizens of Israel who oppose our government’s policies of colonialism, occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people and its actions which may amount to genocide.

We write to you following 13 days (already a month) of an ongoing massacre, which is being perpetrated by Israel in the besieged Gaza Strip.

As the death toll is rising, it now stands at 400 casualties and 3100 injured (Now standing at 2,000 dead and 9,000 injured).

The UN has declared, via UNICEF, that over a third of the victims are children.

As you well know, this massacre was preceded by a month of massive Israeli violence and political persecution in the occupied West Bank, including the arrest of hundreds of so-called “Hamas-affiliated” men and boys. Meanwhile, Israeli mobs run wild in the streets of our cities, shouting the chilling “Death to the Arabs” chants (as well as “Death to the Leftists”).

You cannot ignore the fact, especially during this UN-declared “year of solidarity with the Palestinian people”, that two similar massacres have already been perpetrated by Israel in the short span of 6 years;

1. that Gaza suffocates under Israel’s hermetic siege;

2. that Israel has been perpetrating an ongoing ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people of Palestine since 1948 and up to this day; and

3. that Israel believes it may exterminate hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza every two years and do so with full impunity.

The UN states that “Where genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity do occur, the International Criminal Court, which is separate and independent from the UN, is empowered to investigate and prosecute those most responsible if a state is unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction over alleged perpetrators.”

Israel is well beyond the point of prevention and we, its privileged citizens, are hereby charging it with genocide.

We demand that your office will do everything in its power to halt Israeli genocide as it is taking place. We demand that you take immediate action to prevent Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people. We will be following your conduct on this matter.

Sincerely,
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

Israeli play expelled from Edinburgh venue as Scots protest against Gaza attack

 

(Mohammed Asad / APA images)

 

Sarah Irving posted on Thu, 07/31/2014

gazachildren.jpg

A family evacuates its home in response to Israeli air strikes on Gaza City yesterday; campaigners in Scotland say there is widespread revulsion against the attacks on Palestinians.

(Ezz al-Zanoun / APA images)

Campaigners in Scotland have succeeded in pressuring the organizers of an arts festival into removing the Israeli state-funded Incubator Theater Company from a city center venue in Edinburgh.

Protests against Incubator’s play, a “hip-hop opera” titled The City, began with a letter signed by over fifty of the most high-profile artists and writers in Scotland, including the Scots Makar (poet laureate) Liz Lochhead.

The play was on the program for the Edinburgh Fringe, reputedly the world’s largest arts festival.

Other signatories to the open letter calling for a boycott of Incubator included novelist and painter Alasdair Gray and playwright David Greig.

A daily picket of a pop-up theater organized by Underbelly, the festival’s promoters, had been planned.

The demonstrations were called by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other Palestine solidarity groups.

But Underbelly announced after just one protest that it was removing Incubator from its listings.

A spokesperson for the promoters was quoted on STV, a news website, as saying:

“Earlier today, after discussions between Underbelly, Incubator Theater, the University of Edinburgh and Police Scotland it was agreed that future performances of The City at the Reid Hall would be cancelled. Today’s performance of The City went ahead as planned, but the logistics of policing and stewarding the protest around the Reid Hall … make it untenable for the show to continue.”

However, Underbelly also stated that it would be trying to find Incubator an alternative venue for its planned month-long run at the Fringe.

Albie O’Neill, a spokesperson for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the level of public support for the protest against Incubator was “overwhelming” and that it reflected the “revulsion over what is happening in Gaza.”

 


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