Over the last eight days I have been listening and watching what has been unfolding in Gaza. There are Facebook groups protesting Israel’s attacks, and almost daily I receive e-mails about protests and articles from Tikkun Magazine. Tikkun is my only source of what feels like balanced journalism on the occupation. One of the Facebook groups features musician Brian Eno calling for an end to the attacks on the Palestinian people. I looked at some of the photos posted on the group page. There is a brutal image of a boy; Palestinian I assume, with his leg blown off, blood and guts exposed. There are a series of cartoons. Each cartoon has a Star of David in it, on the bombs, everything. I can’t help but think of two things; the anti-Semitic propaganda cartoons that appeared during 1933-1945 to support Hitler’s extermination of the jews, and the swastika. I think of how we use symbols to represent hate. The Star of David is being portrayed as a symbol of hate. A symbol I have worn around my neck, and one that my mother wears daily. Ironically, it symbolized something peaceful for me.
The Government of Israel, and the Israeli Army have, and are committing war crimes. They have no choice apparently. They have to wipe out Hammas. Wiping out Hammas means killing over 400 people, and the number is rising, and will continue to do so on both sides as the ground troops roll in. I grew up with one perspective on this war, Israel was right. I always knew that it wasn’t the whole story, even when I was little. My hebrew name was given to me as a result of the ending, and the “winning” of the Six Day War in 1967. My hebrew name means Peace and Blessing. During Chanukah this year I was thinking about how Israel is like your fucked up cousin. So tormented, that he has to wreak havoc on everyone around him, and because he has experienced so much trauma, people forgive him, and it’s the holidays, if we war during the holidays , no one will ever forget. Forgetting, never forgetting. The mantra of the Holocaust. We forget every day. We forgot before. There are genocides that predate World War II and many that have followed. Israel is wiping out Palestine, no other option. The cycle of oppression. How is it that one side is right and just to kill, and the other are radicals and extremists when they kill?
I had this talk with my mom last week about Gaza. It was the most reasonable we have had on the issue, she doesn’t call me a jew hater anymore. I am conscious that I am correcting her often , and reminding her of the suffering on both sides. Of the bullies on the top, and that it is not a fair fight. Israel has the support of powerful nations and the media beside them. Palestinians are darker, and whether we think were racist or not, the predominant culture generally sides with the paler people. The dominant-governments will side with the paler people. The people who had 6 million of their own, exterminated while the world watched. Guilt support. The extremely powerful Israel Lobby in the US and Canada pay politicians to never forget. Never forget how we suffered, to the point that you can not see the suffering of anyone else. They are radicals, extremists, brown, poor, and powerless. They are bred to hate jews and we must get rid of them. Look who they are appealing to; governments that exterminated, and enslaved the indigenous populations of land they were wanting to conquer. They understand their plight.
The mainstream media, as usual, has been complicit in the violence. I am hard pressed to find any consistent information about the conflict, any seemingly accurate information about the origins of the land. If our blood is shed on the land does that make it ours? If 6 million of our people are heaped like garbage and turned in to soap and carpets, starved to death and burned, does that mean we have a right to starve, maim and kill others? We could just say it belongs to no one, that would be the truth. It is neither Israeli or Palestinian territory. We forget. It is the way our trauma seems to protect us, a bit of amnesia, so we don’t have to relive the horror every day. Trauma is our permission slip to wreak havoc on the holidays.
I fear what is ahead, that all the acting out, the enabling of Israel to wreak havoc, will only bring more hatred upon jews. All the lives that will be lost, all the trauma that will be endured, on both sides, because no is willing to stop, no one is willing to stand up and take their weapons away, and say enough. No more, no more war. You have a place to be, a homeland, and so do Palestinians, a shared homeland. My first name is translated in terms of Palestine and Israel. Sharon of the Fertile Plains of Ancient Palestine, and the Sharon Valley in Israel. I have never stepped foot on the soil, and I don’t know that I ever will, but by name, I am bound to two homelands. I am privileged to write from the safety of my living room about these two places that have been a part of my consciousness since childhood. All I can think of right now is to pray. Pray for some sanity and clarity. For boldness from Governments that have towed the line for far too long. I will pray that the weapons will be dropped. I will pray that no more lives will be lost. I will pray for healing of our collective trauma from the Holocaust. I will pray for love. I pray for a real peace, a peace that is based on open, challenging, and healing discussion. A peace that is active every day. A peace that is not based on the absence of weapons, but a peace that came from hearing each other, and a recognition of both parties basic human right to exist. I pray because it is all I can do. I have no resources or capacity to get on planes, to personally lobby a Government that will never hear me, but I can pray.