FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Imagining Palestine

by KATHLEEN CHRISTISON

A Palestinian child died in my arms today. It was a young boy; it was a girl. It was an infant; it was a 13-year-old. She had been shot 20 times by an Israeli soldier firing U.S.-made bullets; he had been dismembered by a missile fired from a U.S.-manufactured Israeli helicopter gunship. I am a Palestinian, and these were my children.

I am a Palestinian. I say I am a Palestinian to express my solidarity and that of many silent Americans with a suffering people under Israeli domination. John Kennedy could stand up with honor and make his statement. I must bow my head in shame, for it is my government that pays for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, my government that is committing ethnocide against the Palestinians, my government that is killing Palestinian children. I am a Palestinian, and I reject my American government.

I comforted a woman today whose house was demolished by Israeli bulldozers, monsters of destruction made in America. I helped her pick through the rubble of her home to retrieve her children’s clothing and toys. I comforted her children, who will have no toys and no place to sleep tonight. I listened, thunderstruck, as her husband wailed aloud, standing in front of the pile of broken concrete that was his home. I will not be able to persuade his children that he has not failed them, not failed to provide the protection that any father must give his children. I imagined my own home in ruins, my own children bereft, and I wept. I am a Palestinian, and this woman, this man, these children are my countrymen.

I stood with a Palestinian farmer today whose agricultural land has been destroyed by Israelis. He is a middle-aged man whose olive orchard, his only means of livelihood, was burned and cut down by U.S.-subsidized Israeli settler thugs. The farmer is a young man whose greenhouses and prime agricultural land, left to him by his father and his grandfather, were leveled by Israeli soldiers driving U.S.-manufactured Caterpillar bulldozers, clearing land for a concrete separation wall meant to grab prime land for Israel. The farmer is an old man who watches daily as Israelis build new homes in settlements on land that belonged to him until it was stolen. I am a Palestinian, and these farmers once fed my now-impoverished people.

I stood in the hot sun at the notorious Huwara checkpoint south of Nablus with hundreds of Palestinians waiting for permission to go to work, to school, to medical appointments. I stood in the driving rain at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, waiting with hundreds of others who must pass here every day, waiting for hours to get to work and then hours more to return home. There is no sun more searing, no rain more cold and driving than in Palestine, yet we all stood like automatons, fearful of arousing the anger of the power-mad teenage Israeli soldiers who control our lives and our freedom, fearful that they would shoot us if we showed any evidence of emotion. In the middle of the night last night, I consoled a woman who gave birth on the ground at a checkpoint because an Israeli soldier in his teenage wisdom regarded her as a security risk, and later I rode in the ambulance as she bled and her baby turned blue and perished. I am a Palestinian, and I stoically endure the peculiar humiliation of these checkpoints with my countrymen.

I gave solace to a Palestinian political prisoner today and to his wife. I am a Palestinian, and this man is serving time for fighting for my freedom.

I picked a fig from a tree in my front yard today and ate it. It was the most delicious sweetness I had ever experienced. I believe this because I am a Palestinian, and the fig tree grows in Palestine.

Ordinary words fail. The horrific fate of Palestine cries out for the power of poetry. This is no powerful poem, or any poem at all, but it is a cry from the heart.

I care about murdered Israeli children too, but there are far fewer of them, and my government already embraces them. I embrace Palestinian children because so few others do, because my government cares nothing about them, because my government kills them.

I am a Palestinian. I live the daily lives of Palestinians. I cradled a dying Palestinian child in my arms today.

KATHLEEN CHRISTISON is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail