Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gaza and the world: Will things ever change?
By Ramzy Baroud

"In times of crisis, most Arabs watch the news. Sometimes it’s comforting for the truth to be stated the way it is, with all of its gory and unsettling details, without blemishes and without censorship. When Israel carried out massive air strikes against Gaza on Saturday, December 27, terrorizing an already hostage and malnourished population, I too tuned in to Arab satellite channels.
Within seconds I learned of the tally: 290 deaths and climbing, with 700 more wounded, all in one day. But as dramatic as this event may have seemed – the highest Israeli inflicted death toll in one day in Palestine since Israel’s establishment in 1948 – there was nothing new to learn. Tragedies anywhere - natural or manmade – tend to lead to social, cultural, economic and political upheavals, revolutions even, that somehow alter the social, cultural, economic and ultimately political landscapes in the affected regions, save in Palestine.
I gazed pointlessly at the screen. Learning of the aftermath of such tragedies seems more of a ritual than a purposeful habit. The Arab and international responses to the killings can only serve as a reminder of how ineffectual and irrelevant, if not complacent their timid mutterings are.
Once again the US blamed Palestinians, and the Hamas “thugs” using words that defy logic, such as “Israel has the right to defend itself.” The statement remains as ludicrous as ever, for a country like Israel with an army that possesses the world’s most lethal weapons, including nuclear arms, cannot possibly feel threatened by an imprisoned population whose only defense mechanism are fertilizer-based homemade rockets. While Israel has killed and wounded thousands of Palestinians in Gaza (one thousand on Saturday alone) a handful of Israelis have reportedly died as a direct result of the Palestinian rockets in years. Do numbers matter at all?
European governments chose their words carefully, “expressing concern”, “calling on Israel to use restraint” and so on. Arab governments were, as usual, distracted with trivialities, protocols and easily lost sight of the crisis at hand.
Then, the same, ever predictable outbursts began. Passionate callers from all over the world called various TV and radio stations in the Middle East and shouted, yelled, cried, vented, called on God, called on Arab leaders, called on all of those with “living conscience” to do something. In turn, audiences too cried at home as they listened to the heated commentary and watched footage of heaps of Palestinian bodies throughout the Gaza Strip.
The passion soon spilled to the streets of Arab capitals, of course under the ever-vigilant eyes of Arab police and secret services. Flags of U.S. and Israel, and in some cases Egypt were sat ablaze along with effigies of Bush and Israeli leaders.
‘Rising up to the occasion’ some Arab governments declared, with much hype their intention to send an airplane or two of medicine and food to Gaza, a few boxes clad with the donor country’s flag, flashed endlessly on local media. Meanwhile, news reports spoke of Palestinians attempting to flee the Gaza prison into the Sinai desert. They were met with decisive Egyptian security presence at the border.
Strangely enough, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remained faithful to the script, despite Gaza’s unprecedented tragedy. On Sunday, he blamed Hamas for the bloodbath. "We talked to them (Hamas) and we told them, 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop", so that we could have avoided what happened."
Was Mr. Abbas informed of the fact that Hamas hasn’t carried out one suicide bombing since 2005? Or that the ‘truce’ never compelled Israel to allow Palestinians in Gaza access to basic necessities and medicine? Or that it was Israel that attacked Gaza in November, killing several people, claiming that it obtained information of a secret Hamas plot?
Even stranger that while Abbas has chosen such a position, many Israelis are not convinced that the war on Gaza was at all related to the Hamas’ rockets, and is in fact an election ploy for desperate politicians vying for Israel’s dominating right wing vote in the upcoming February elections. In fact, the Israeli design against Gaza had little to do with the ‘escalation’ of the rocket attacks of mid December.
"Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public - all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces "Cast Lead" operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip," wrote the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz on December 28, which also revealed that the plan had been in effect for six months.
"Like the U.S. assault on Iraq and the Israeli response to the abduction of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser at the outset of the Second Lebanon War, little to no weight was apparently devoted to the question of harming innocent civilians," said Haaretz.
And why should Israel devote a moment to the question of harming civilians or violating international law or any such seemingly irrelevant notions – as far as Israel is concerned - as long as their “Palestinian partners”, the Arab League, or the international community continue to teeter between silence, complacency, rhetoric and inaction?
By Thursday, January 1, the death toll climbed to 420, according to Palestinian medics and news reports, and over 2000 wounded. A doctor from a Khan Yunis clinic in Gaza told me on the phone, “scores of the wounded are clinically dead. Others are so badly disfigured; I felt that death is of greater mercy for them than living. We had no more room at the Qarara Clinic. Body parts cluttered the hallways. People screamed in endless agony and we had not enough medicine or pain killers. So we had to choose which ones to treat and which not to. In that moment I genuinely wished I was killed in the Israeli strikes myself, but I kept running trying to do something, anything.”
Until Arab countries and nations translate their chants and condemnations into a practical and meaningful political action that can bring an end to the Israeli onslaughts against Palestinians, all that is likely to change are the numbers of dead and wounded. But still, one has to wonder if Israel kills a thousand more, ten thousand, or half of Gaza, will the US still blame Palestinians? Will Egypt open its Gaza border? Will Europe express the same “deep concern”? Will the Arabs issue the same redundant statements? Will things ever change? Ever?"

As i read this, a well-coiffed female CNN reporter asks a chief palestinian negotiator who is askign for a cease-fire, "you were given 6 months of cease-fire and you still had political divides between Hamas and the palestinian authorities so why should you be given another cease-fire?"
Anyone else finds this question insane? Is stopping the kilings and the atrocities a luxury that this largely irrelevant reporter cannot grant?

I don't think anything will even change. I might live to see the end of this, or not. I might witness a total ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian race but like Baroud said, even is a thousand, tens of thousands are killed, even when no Palestinian flags are allowed in the anti-war protests by the Israeli government, even when nothing is been done, how do you wipe out a nation? how do you kill a culture? a history? you simply cannot. There will always be a Palestine as long as there are Palestinians. Palestine will always be in our hearts and in our culture and in our conscience.
After all the Jews are living proof that you cannot wipe a people, are they not?
It is getting much much worse it seems..
Israel is going on the ground offensive, as they call it. They say it will be a long operation. I'm not sure what the death toll is at this moment..
I don't know what to feel anymore. Thousands of casualties already and a hundred or so Palestinian children, according to CNN.. just don't know what to say...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Back there ...

Back frozen on the net, surfing for news, trying to get some work done but aching ..

I am tired of this, i am physically tired of this ..

I cannot look away.

I woke up, the tv was still on since yesterday, i cleaned my face and cleaned my face and cleaned my face, lait, toner, lait, what else do i have ..

I do those compulsive things when i want to feel more in control.. I cleaned my face but i don't remember looking into my face, and then i started cleaning the house .. and cleaning ... I have some exams to correct. The semester is almost over. I have to write the final exams and i have around 8 lectures left to prepare in each class. I have to update the system too. All the new typing. People are asking for results and i cannot fall behind schedule. I have to finish writing this paper. Why is the kitchen floor all wet? I should reorganize my closets and set up next week's appointments. Let's see, there's the Armenian expedition .. That spa day thing i got, i don't have time for that .. maybe i'll give it to someone but i do need it .. I have to go to Beirut sometime next week. My brakes are still busted and i still have to go to the bank. *Mental note = don't lose your mind*. That lady gave me all these creams to use every day, what is she nuts? I don't have that kind of time, i have a job, but she said my skin is suffering .. I miss my nephews. How come i'm 31? All the sitcoms with the cool people we like were younger, friends and that new one.. Seinfeld, i think they were over 30.. but still 31!! maybe i should use those creams.. i have to do that MRI sometime soon too *mental note, call the insurance company*. I need light bulbs and a man to fix them. I have gained weight. I hate winter. those pants used to fit when i was in san diego, that wasn't a long time ago. i should lose weight. maybe i'll try that yogurt diet again. i just need to exercise again. but i don't have time for this.. i need to fix my hair before Thursday *make an appointment with the hairdresser*. I need to change hairdresser since i cried at mine last time i was there. shit. Let's see what's on the news. I can get to all this crap tomorrow. I'll start with that diet now.. or maybe put the yogurt on my face..

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tzipi Livni, said that there is "no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip"
She rejected a 48-hour cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip, saying that Israel keeps the humanitarian situation..... Ready?
"completely as it should be" by distinguishing between soldiers and civilians.

"Health officials in Gaza say at least 400 people have been killed during Israel's six-day assault on Hamas. The United Nations estimates that about one-quarter of those killed were civilians" (i saw the pictures of the wounded children on cbs news). "One-point-five million Gazans are left with little food or supplies".


It feels quite odd to be looking at this space trying to fill it up again and i cannot remember how i did that before. I seem to be growing increasingly private and get increasingly isolated..
I see the pictures from the Gaza massacre and in my busy schedule, i hear of what is happening and my heart breaks but i do not feel worthy to even blog it or talk about it. I feel the most dignified thing i can do is to slip into despair and try to survive in my cheap denial. And who am I to say anything or to even have an opinion. Even thinking about my words not so long ago, I feel ashamed. What is happening in Palestine is not a seasonal affair and I cannot ‘get into’ it based on what is happening in Lebanon. I think this is what I have been doing. To be honest. It started in summer 06 after the war in Lebanon and I remember not sleeping and I remember my rage and my blood boiling at the sight of all the blood and the deaths.. I was turning into something I am not familiar with. I saw how easily people can slip into narrow mindedness and hate. It did indeed start based on the events in Lebanon, but before I know it, I was more outraged but the incessant heartbreak in Palestine. The idea of the loss of hope, I could taste it.. and it got to me… I promised myself to try and make a difference.. I could not exist away anymore and I wanted to come back and be at the heart of it…
What happened since then? Where did I disappear to?
People want to have opinions
It’s in vogue to have opinions
Well I don’t anymore.. I’m paralyzed again. I’m just very very sad..
I don’t have solutions and I don’t have opinions and I feel too small to comment on what is happening and I feel like a hypocrite ..
A hypocrite to feel involved only when disaster strikes and a liar to make any more promises to myself to try and do something…
We get sidetracked and we get sucked into our small problems and small lives and we then dare to think we’re humane when we stop at those horrendous pictures and actually feel something..
It’s almost inhumane to keep going after you do…
And because today, faced with my inhumanity, I have to keep going..
I will go back to my denial.. I will not read your comments or encourage your sad attempts to self-assure by linking images to your sites or expressing disgust in social settings or, better yet, refrain from celebrating the new year in solidarity.. you are as cowardice as I am and as paralyzed by today’s demands as I am and the first one to claim humanity among us by shedding only a tear at the sight of those pictures, the first one to oppose massacres, the most devoted opinionated oppose among us, is the most inhumane of all ….