I am a mother and my children are hungry. I lay awake last night till dawn, trying to figure out how to put bread on the table for my kids, and I will lie awake again tonight for the same reason. All my plans, all my dreams for my family are in ruins. Mine is the real voice of Palestinian and Israeli women.
I am a father whose livelihood has been taken away while more polished and fortunate men sit in safety somewhere else and discuss strategy or theology and sign documents with a silver pen. My pride is gone, because my children see what is happening and want to believe that I have the power to change it, but tomorrow it will be the same all over again. Secretly, inside, I’m bitter and betrayed and confused. Mine is the real voice of Israeli and Palestinian men.
I am a young woman who has been cheated of a good education and I’m subjected, from the moment I venture to show my face outside my front door, to the casual brutality of strangers in a society gone mad. Who will give me back the life I could have had, filled with laughter and useful work and a proud young man who could look me in the eye and make promises about our future together? Mine is the real voice of young Palestinian and Israeli womanhood.
I am a young man who has been stripped of his humanity and sent out to prove his manhood in an endless, pointless game of mutual destruction, which is all the education anyone seems to be able to offer me just at present, and in my deepest and most secret heart, I wonder if it would have been better never to have been born in the first place, but in the meantime, with my tanks or my rocks or my rifle or my explosives or my bare hands, I will show that guy over there that I’m better at this stupid game than he is! So come on everyone, let’s get them, kill them, show them who’s a man around here and how dare they try to do that to us! We will never be vanquished! Mine is the real voice of young Palestinian and Israeli manhood.
I am a child and I’m worried. My mother cries secretly at night and my father is ashamed of something he cannot talk about. My sisters are afraid and my brothers are acting brave to cover up how frightened and confused they are. My grandmother needs a doctor and my grandfather sits and stares at the wall. I am only a child and I don’t know for sure what is real and what is not, but I know that I’m scared all the time, so I guess mine is the real voice of Israeli and Palestinian children.
I am dead. I died with and without a weapon in my hands, I died inside a tank and shot by a tank, I died fighting and I died picking olives and I died riding on a bus and I died next to my greenhouse and I died at the door of my own house and I died eating pizza and I died suddenly by the side of an evil road that some people ride on and some people shoot at and some people guard and some people claim is sacred and some people made a profit from building in the first place over the graves of living trees torn up by their roots, and at this point I know only one thing for sure: I am dead, and for me it’s too late. I am the real voice of the Palestinian and Israeli casualties, martyrs, victims, and heroes.
I am a wounded and crippled survivor of this mayhem. I cannot speak.
I am a prisoner. I am not permitted to speak to anyone.
I am a foreign worker about to be deported. I have no say.
I am yesterday’s dissident waiting for tomorrow’s miracle. I have already said it all.
I am still in the womb, waiting to be born, but I wonder if an abortion might not be preferable. I am to inherit the future toward which you are marching. I am the Israeli and Palestinian unborn, and I have a message for you from all of us, with one voice:
Can’t you people do any better than this? Put away your weapons. Stop ruining everything and start building something. Stop blaming each other and get to work! What are you waiting for?
DEB REICH, a writer and translator, lives in the mad world of Israel/Palestine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org