FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I Could Not Save a Single Child

When I was a child my mother used to cry, “I couldn’t save a single Jewish child.”

Now I am my mother: I cannot save a single child in Gaza.

Not the ones wrapped in green cocoons lying row on row, surrounded by throngs of grieving men. I cannot comfort the fathers who jump up and down in agony, screaming as their children lie dead before them on the ground.

I cannot comfort the mother whose eyes, ravaged and blanked by terror, stare beyond me from the photograph, nor save the little one with bloodied, bruised face who stands beside her, nor the older brother, the only two who survived of six. I cannot say, “Come, we have a big, comfortable basement with a bed for you and the children, and a bath, and plenty of food. We will take you and shelter you.” I cannot welcome them to a home full of calm, of sunlight, with the warmth of potted plants, the refrigerator full of food, the showers waiting to receive them, the warm water streaming down to comfort their bruised and tired bodies.

I cannot save a single Gaza child.

Not the ones I saw on Al-Jazeera lying dead with heads all bloodied, under blankets on the ravaged ground. Not the little one, 2, maybe 3, bloodied bandages covering her bloodied skull and face leaving me her bruised lips and part of one dull and hopeless eye, her helpless bigger sister, surely no more than 4, beside her. I cannot take her, bring her back to normal life, hug her and sing to her, hold her up against my piano and ask her to listen to the strings as I run my fingers over them, watch while her face lights up with pleasure as she spots my cats, hold her, hold her, and hold her….

I cannot save the little girl, maybe 5, who says the soldier stood and looked at her, then shot her hand and then, as she turned to run to her mother, her back: “One bullet went out my back and through my stomach.” Will doctors in a hospital the siege had already drained of medicines and equipment, a hospital where patients must share beds, where the floors are full of the wounded, and the blood pools around them — will the doctors working quickly, as expertly as they know within the chaos of the terrified families pouring in from the terrified streets of Gaza City, will the doctors working as quickly as they know, but in this wasteland, save her?

I cannot save the newborn Mohammed, monitors on his chest, a respirator over his tiny face, born within the ground-shaking, ear-splitting terror of bombs falling from F16s, into a life from hell, where the smoke of exploding shells and bombs gags the other children, the women, the men, fleeing helpless before the behemoth wielding their “pure arms” to crush these “two-legged cockroaches,” these Palestinians of whom Golda Meir said, “There are no Palestinians,” and whom the Hebron settlers curse in savage scrawled grafitti: ARABS TO THE GAS CHAMBERS. These people concerning whom the Rabbi said, “One Arab is not worth a million Jewish fingernails.” Concerning whom Avigdor Lieberman, that man of the Israeli people, says, drop the atom bomb on them as the Americans did on Japan.

I cannot lift the dark-faced, dark-haired teenaged girl from the stretcher, rock her in my arms and say, “Darling, Shhh, it will be all right,” because it will not be alright. She is already dead, face down on the stretcher where the hopeless cover her body while I watch her image at my computer.

It will not be alright.

It will not be alright.

It will not be alright. I am my mother, and it is 1942 all over again, and this is the Warsaw Ghetto – different, I’ll admit. I’ll admit they aren’t killing everyone. Just some of them. Only 400. Only 600. Only 800. Only 1000. When does “collateral damage” become malice aforethought? When does that malice translate as “deaths?” When do deaths become “a massacre?” How many in a massacre? A holocaust? The shoa Mr. Vilnai wanted?

I cannot save a single child in Gaza. I am my mother, and we are weeping together.

(All of the images of Gaza in the prose-poem above are from Al-Jazeera English. The references to Deputy Defense Secretary Matan Vilnai and other figures come from my archives and library.)

ELLEN CANTAROW can be reached at ecantarow@comcast.net

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ellen Cantarow, a Boston-based journalist, first wrote from Israel and the West Bank in 1979. Her work has been published in Le Monde diplomatique, the Village Voice, Grand Street, Tom Dispatch and Mother Jones, among other publications, and was anthologized by the South End Press. More recently, her writing has appeared at CounterPunch, ZNet, and Alternet.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail