FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Death in Gaza, Déjà Vu

by JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN

It is a recurring nightmare. The sounds and smells are so familiar; the tension in the air so thick that you can see it like the grit and grime that collects on your clothes and shoes after being outside for only a short while.  In July, sand blows in off the shore whipping its tiny grains across your face until your eyes sting shut with tears. Drones buzz in the night sky and tracer flares speed past like little comets. In November there is a chill in the wind when the booms go off in the dusty overcrowded streets of Gaza. The killing is high speed and slow motion together; and later, in January, when the rains start, the streets will flood and the muck and debris of the earth surges upward making patterns of dirty, broken-lace detritus on the curbs and corners, unable to drain away quickly enough for easy passage. Dying in the cold and damp is worst of all when your limbs are left to bleed uncovered. Month after month, the leitmotif of death in all its creative varieties eats away at the people of Gaza.  Were it not so unnatural, we might wonder if the seasons had somehow been poisoned.

Forty-six-year-old Ahmad Jabari and his companion, Mohammad al-Homs, were together in their car when Israel incinerated them with the astonishing accuracy of its high-tech, precision-strike weapons. Were they conscious in those last seconds? Did an instant of suspended animation allow them to bid their world  good bye? On the dark side of the Manichaean universe into which we have cast them,  is it heresy to imagine they may have loved or have been loved; that mourning and bereavement would ensue? That whole families would be shattered again by death?   Israeli aerial attacks hit 20 targets on the first day alone of the latest operation to target alleged “missile silos,” weapons’ storehouses, and ‘terrorists’ the righteous can kill with particular impunity – like Jabari, whose position as head of the Qassam Brigades, or military wing of Hamas, could hardly merit condemnation.

Aerial strikes now soar into the hundreds and every non-combatant person is at risk. It is becoming more and more difficult to cover up the fact that the civilian population of Gaza, the families, children, shopkeepers, street vendors, pharmacists, doctors, construction workers, teachers, journalists, and others are not the ‘collateral damage’ in an angry war against “militants,” “terrorists,” and primitive rockets. Rather they are themselves are the primary targets. They are the ones who must be culled from the land. The “militants” are merely the means to their demise. The ‘unpeople’ who clutter the land like trash are the genuine, singular targets of US-Israel foreign policy, standing as they do between the messy, inconvenient present and the most sacred and coveted of goals: rule over the land unencumbered by Arabs; access and control of the resources with no pretense of sharing; open spaces for development and investment and future profits. That the planners will also get tourist attractions of a bygone civilization whose cultural artifacts can be served up as souvenirs in shops with restaurants serving ‘native’ cuisine may have been unintended, but are opportune, byproducts.  When Gaza is flushed free of its human squalor and the land and resources reintegrated methodically into the Jewish State, quietly and without fanfare, America’s Israeli terror over the land will end, or so it is presumed. Events could still go this quietly, and Palestinians will be likened to the Sioux. Will it be so easy to assure?

Jabari  was a perfect Kill: easy to transform from unsuspecting passenger in a car to calculating killer. The top military brass in Tel Aviv and Washington understand this as well as the servile journalists and sycophants whose job it is to lull even half-interested TV viewers across an ocean with “narratives” based on lies. “By nature of his position, Jabari has been responsible over the past decade for all anti-Israel terror activity emanating from the [Gaza] Strip,” a Shin Bet security agent said to the Times of Israel. Guilt by title; and the appropriation of the language of good for the Good, and bad for the Bad. Such logic will lead us to the alternatives already available, based as they are on an Original Myth: disengage from the rest of the natives until they turn to grass and stone, or pretend they were never there to begin with and proceed accordingly anyway: A land without a people for a people without a land.

Since Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 the IDF has hit well over 1000 targets of “terror” in its self-defense against families and children. There is no reason we should have to imagine what this looks like in the painfully dilapidated territory of Gaza,  bombed and wrecked beyond repair  so often, so repeatedly, and with a wrath that defies comprehension that one has to ask how it is that people still go on with life as well as they do—lacking water, electricity, arable land, employment, safe homes, sewage plants, functioning flour mills and fresh air. There are a hundred thousand photographs of the pock-marked, bullet-sprayed buildings, homes, and mosques. There are over a thousand posters of the martyred Palestinian (and foreign) resistance fighters. There are shelves stacked and overflowing with video footage from various international media and endless records of the maimed, the imprisoned, the tortured and humiliated, the hospitalized, the bed-ridden and the dead. NGOs served a great purpose, historians will decide, in preserving the precise, detailed records of every name unjustly abused. There are the wounded souls themselves who carry a burden of unbearable loss; who weep in silence for the dead. A Palestinian Ghost Dance may conjure the ancestors of old but it will also offer more incentive to annihilate the eerie traces of human attempts at self-preservation. A manifest destiny is a bullet to the brain of a peaceful protester in Bil’in whose turn at Gaza is fast approaching.

* * *

Gaza again is a living hell, all of it on record for the world to see. The death toll is climbing by the hour. The photos are everywhere but the New York Times has only a paragraph on the fear Israeli children experience from the loud noises and clamor. You have forgotten the other half of humanity, Mr. Publisher. Not the other half, really; the other 9/10ths of the world. When will you comment on the trauma the Gazan child experiences, and repeatedly, with children across the world under the bombs of the United States and Israel?

All the sounds and sights and smells of slaughter verify the damage and danger of aerial assaults and targeted killings; Apartment buildings still buzzing with human activity when missiles pierced through their ceilings offer up their dead and wounded to the deafening skies. Progressive US President Barak Obama and his allies applaud Israel’s masterful techniques of preventive war as self-defense; its sophistication at using state of the art weaponry against mosques, homes, markets and schools; re-emphasize at press conferences the right of Israel to defend itself against the human cattle they have justly corralled into densely packed camps to be bound and slaughtered or starved and transferred elsewhere. All of it is happening again, today, before our very eyes; before the universal documents proclaiming the rights of mankind and international humanitarian law; before the leaders who have so eagerly abandoned due process and civil liberties but fear the rising tide of rebellion in the Middle East and elsewhere? How dare we pontificate on the atrocities of Damascus after sponsoring such a Juggernaut for Jerusalem? For Gaza? What educated public can still claim they didn’t know? How can anyone any longer pretend the earth was not boiling beneath us like lava under an active volcano?

Jennifer Loewenstein is faculty associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also a long-time human rights activist and a freelance journalist. She can be reached at: amadea311@earthlink.net


More articles by:

Jennifer Loewenstein is a human rights activist and faculty associate in Middle East Studies at at Penn State University.  She can be reached at: amadea311@earthlink.net

Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail