Friday, January 2, 2009


every day i am confronted with hope and the feeling of hopelessness, love and anger

in talking with people here about how the traumatic events experienced by the people of gaza during the bombardment that continues for the last week we often find ourselves talking about what the children teach us in this conflict. there are the stories from those who experience it first hand and those who are secondarily affected by it (most of us).

while watching the events unfold in gaza there is an urgency that i think is hard for most of us to identify with, especially if we have not experienced events that give us the reference for it ourselves. that may be why it is so easy to say -"israel has a right to defend itself". in that case why is the right to defend not extended to all peoples? and the right to defend does not equal the right to massacre. the people of gaza are dying daily and running out of supplies. in all the years of the conflict i have been told that what is going on now is the most extreme abuse of human rights that has been seen. and i have heard that most of the news (especially in the states) focuses on the fact that 4 israelis have been killed and that is the validation for the horrific acts that continue in gaza. as far as i can tell if we just look at the definition of words: israel is the real terrorist - one who uses or advocates terror:

1. intense, sharp, overmastering fear
2. an instance or cause of intense fear or anxiety; quality of causing terror
3. any period of frightful violence or bloodshed likened to the Reign of Terror in France.
4. violence or threats of violence used for intimidation or coercion
5. Informal. a person or thing that is especially annoying or unpleasant.

in the bombing of a mosque that happened days ago the reason stated by the israeli government was because two members of hamas were standing outside of it. while they succeeded in destroying the mosque, the 2 "members of hamas", and whoever was inside - the bombing also destroyed the house next door of a family of 10, mother, father, 2 sons, 6 daughters. in it were the 6 sisters, earlier that day the oldest sister had told her family - "i think we will die". she watched her other 5 sisters die in the explosion, and was the only one to survive.

i was told ghandi said - the best war against war is the children.

we are talking about death here: children, people, our neighbors, our families. maybe some find it easy to say it's not my family, i feel sorry for them if they think like that and are so easy to seperate yourself from the suffering of another. just because we don't live with the iminent threat let us not devalue the lives that have been lost and the many others who have been damaged: physically, emotionally , and mentally, probably never to recover. these are not just numbers on a tv. each one is you and me and someone that we love and will miss. and who knows what their life might have brought, we will never know. and in that the tragedy influences the lives of all those who survive. we need to stop blaming the actions and start looking at what is causing them, and what we are doing to support it, tacitly or otherwise.

i saw an interview with a woman and her 5 children. the children will not leave her side, they stand outside the door when she goes to the bathroom and everytime she leaves their sight they think she is dead. and she shares a sentiment that many do in gaza, that they will die at any moment. most have not left there home in days since the onslaught has begun, only briefly to get supplies. and many of them wonder if today is the day they will die and they say, they want die at home and with their families. can you imagine as a mother or parent not being able to assure the saftey of your kids and how that must make them feel?

this is very hard for me to write about - i have been nauseated and crying the last few days. and since i am often around others i find myself fighting back tears when i think of what they must be going through and feeling viscerally the impending doom of death that seems to wait. since being in the occupied land - "israel" i have had many mixed emotions, but what i've realized is we need to start seeing this on a humanistic level. wanting to support human rights and safety for palestinians is not anti-anyone else. when looking at the health of a society it should be measured by how well that society functions to fulfill the needs for a prosperous life of all individuals. at the very basic levels: food, shelter, and security. as humans we are failing miserably, not just here in palestine. how can we continue to live the way we do when we know that others are suffering and wondering if they might not see tomorrow. what happens to families when children don't feel they can be protected and parents feel hopeless and not able to provide safety for their children.

many people i have met in palestine were children during the 1st intifada and as they reflect on the effects that had on them they look to try to help the children now from having the same experiences. as safety is taken from them by seeing deaths on a daily basis, hearing bombs in the distance, seeing their parents fearful...they start thinking they have no one to count on, their parents can't protect them, expecting that wars are a part of life. as adults we have developed the coping mechanisms that will help us endure but the children need more and they deserve to be able to develop without the fear of death being just around the corner (literally). then they start seeing themselves through the political situation and less through self. the parents are distracted by news and the events and traumatized themselves, this leads to tense interactions. children need to be held and feel secure to develop into healthy adults with healthy relationships. they need to be able to express their feelings and be asked about what they are experiencing.

a man here in the west bank asked about letting his 4 year old daughter watch the news. she asked him to turn it on to watch what was happening in gaza. when he did she saw the footage of children and adults being carried out of rubble...she went to the tv and kissed it, while crying she said "i love gaza". he turned the tv off and she shouted at him to turn it back on, saying he didn't care about the people. he felt hurt by this because he was just trying to protect her. the lady presenting the lecture on maslow's pyramid and treating children after trauma told him to let her express her feelings by talking with her and try to get her to draw what is going on for her.

what kind of society are we creating that perpetuates events like these causing trauma to others and then wondering why they act out in childhood and when they become adults, trying to regain some sense of control over thier lives lost so early on.

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