I’m with this snuggly bundle of perfection, my grandson. All week, I’ve held him close, his cheek against my heart. I’ve buried my face in his hair, inhaling, smelling his baby breath. Staring into his black velvet eyes, I feel the sweetest love. I want to tell him I’ll chase away monsters, those ogres most children fear, the ones that wait under the bed and emerge when the lights are out.
I’d die protecting this child.
When his father was born, I thought of war. ‘He can’t go to war. “Please, no war.” I think of this now as I look at my son’s son. War. And I see the children of Gaza, their parents and grandparents—people who love their children exactly as we love ours, whose lives are destroyed by monsters from whom there is no protection.
In Gaza, existence is dictated by Israel—the air, the sea, borders, entrances, exits. There is no safety in a home where someone may invade at any time, or call with a warning, “you have five minutes to leave before your house will be blown apart.”
I keyboard my way through article after article, site after site, about Gaza, and I feel sick. This one, memorializing the dead, seeks to humanize Palestine, I guess, for those who aren’t human enough to empathize without seeing the face of the dead juxtaposed with personal information, like occupation, interests, and the loved ones left to mourn. Another lists both the Palestinian and Israeli dead and their ages. Among the Palestinians is number 243, a child, Fares Jumaa al-Mahmoum, like my grandson, just five months old. This child could be my grand baby, a child someone would die to protect and perhaps did, a child someone tried to shield from violence, calling up fierce love, powerless against weapons sold to Israel by the USA.
Within minutes of learning that Israel had destroyed Gaza’s only power station, I received an email from a reader:
The loss of the power station means the contaminated water cannot be boiled. If a stressed out and starving woman loses her milk supply her infant can be dead in a day, that fast. Israel will not need to send missiles and bulldozers in order to kill the babies. The mothers will be dead of broken hearts, the kids will die of cholera or something as benign as ordinary diarrhea … I am putting posters that say ” no impunity for Israel” on the windows. Do say something, your baby is safe, other babies have nothing.
Yes, my baby is safe. All babies SHOULD be safe.
I am consumed with sadness, that any child knows war, that adults make decisions to terrorize other adults and children, the insanity of ownership, some explosive real estate closing for the people of one religion or a tribe or group or ethnicity. Instead of working to achieve peace in a democracy based on equal citizenship rights, regardless of religion/ethnicity.
The mainstream news marketers frame the carnage as if Israel is targeting terrorists, not schools, hospitals, homes, a power station, people, children, everyone in Gaza. In other words, they speak from AIPAC’s script.
Congress voted a few weeks ago its unanimous support of Israel.
And on July 27th, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright appeared on Face the Nation to voice concern for Israel: “I am a great believer in the security of Israel and the moral authority of the Israelis. But I am very worried about what is going on in terms of their image.”
Yes, Albright said, “moral authority” and “image”.
I want to scream.
Albright is indifferent to the Palestinians, apathetic to the indignities and humiliation of checkpoints and separate roads, to the past suffering, years of occupation, a merciless incarceration, and now the recent pounding of Gaza, with over 1300 people killed and 6500 wounded. Albright, after all, is just as much a monster today as she was in 1996 when she was asked by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes about US sanctions on Iraq that resulted in the deaths of half a million children. Albright answered Stahl with, “…we think the price is worth it.”
The Israeli monster, Benjamin Netanyahu, is outraged that the UN Human Rights Council has launched an inquiry into the possibility that Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza. He calls this a “travesty.” Fifty-six Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died during Operation Protective Edge. A survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute “found that 95 percent of Israeli Jews think the Operation in Gaza is just, and 4 of 5 oppose a unilateral withdrawal.”
Most of the world condemns Israel and the slaughter in Gaza. Not the US. The two nations have created an enormous monster, so inhumane that mothers and fathers and grandparents are powerless to protect their children. The horror already is immense with no end in sight, except the expulsion of Palestinians or their annihilation.
Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org