A Nation of Surgeons

A Nation of Surgeons

Describe the area where the injustice happened in figurative language.

A striated country,

strapped down with wire and polyethylene wrap,

butchered and sliced with fractal borders.

Zoom into the bloodiest slice,

a slab twenty-five miles long and four-to-seven miles wide,

like the stretch between Queens and the Central Park Zoo.

Pronounce paa-lee-eh-tha-leen. Enunciate.

It is flesh, the slab

To which a surgical knife is applied in crosshatch pattern

The incisions are stitched

Surgical sutures, Egyptian silk

The stitches are torn out all at once

A surgical knife is applied in crosshatch pattern

The operation is repeated

You climb over the hill and in front the fence and you see the smoke rising over Gaza a walking distance away but it is unreachable unreachable and only the smoke is smellable and the sound of the aircrafts rocking the sky and rocking your ears and rocking the bed of your niece nearby

The rest of the land is covered

by a dome made of newspapers;

the operation goes unseen.

The newspapers are written in old Semitic script,

but the syntax is hetero like English et al:

subjects fuck objects.

Provide a fragmented collage of media statements that whitewash the injustice in various ways.

The Prime Minister says: “We are making an effort like no other military in the world; we are trying to strike with unparalleled surgical precision, and we proved that the day before yesterday.”

Lazy surgeons. A title in the liberal newspaper Ha’aretz: “The IDF thought that the assaulted structure was empty—8 family members were killed.” Underneath: a picture of a crater. Underneath, dry: “The site of the attack in Dir Al-Balah, yesterday. One of the neighbors: they were shepherds who lived in a miserable structure of tin.” The subtitle: “among the dead were five children.” A family member, Muhammad Al-Suarka, is quoted: “These are your enemies, Mister Netanyahu? These children and toddlers? To this cabin you send F-16 jets? This is your victory? This is a massacre, a cold-blooded murder.”

The Prime Minister says: “They now know that we can reach their hiding places with surgical precision.”

The two major newspapers, Yediot Acharonot and Yisrael Hayom, do not mention the Family of Eight. In Operation “Black Belt,” only twenty-five terrorists were eliminated, they say. Gaza’s Health Ministry counts thirty-four—presented as a fact in Haaretz—including the Family of Eight and a father with both his children.

The Prime Minister says: “It’s time to tell the truth: we take every measure to avoid harming innocents, with surgical precision—no army in the world acts this way.”

(Establish a quietly emotional section that provides some humanity against the media deluge)

Copses in a garden

the saplings are dead

Olive trees

scattered uprooted charred on the ground

A mountain, a mountain

of corpses

(Whisper the lines aligned right)

The Military Correspondent of the country’s largest newspaper Yediot reports that “77 Israelis” were injured during the operation. No other journalist cites this figure. The same newspaper’s South District Correspondent reports, “Other than some damages and several minor injuries, there were no significant losses throughout this round.”

You are at the bottom of the crater and the cameras flash and the people cry loud scattered concrete buildings pell-mell like corpses and the aircrafts boom and scatter us like rats but there is nowhere to scatter as the Family of Eight is a Family of Eight and You’re unknown a forgotten survivor there’s nowhere nowhere nowhere to go but into this heart beating to break out of its shell

Incisions, incisions

Nothing but meat charred flesh charred incinerated tree copses copses and nowhere to go but inside to turn your gaze roll your eyes up and back into your brain a dimagh whose nerve fibers imitate astonishingly precisely the base of the trunk of a charred old olive tree

The IDF Spokesperson says: “It was a very surgical operation.”

Makor Rishon, the weekly of the most widely circulated newspaper, says: “When there are no ‘moderates’ to talk to and violent, murderous nationalism is deeply entrenched in the collective consciousness perhaps [sic] it is better if national security puts less surgical an effort in pursuing terrorists.”

There are now two million people in Gaza. Senior Surgeon Avi Dichter reassured Israelis on live television that they needn’t be concerned: “The Israeli army…has enough bullets for everyone. If every man, woman and child in Gaza gathers at the gate, there is a bullet for every one of them. They can all be killed, no problem.”

Read aloud, gradually raise volume:

A knife is applied

Incisions are stitched

Stitches are torn

The operation repeats

A knife is applied. Incisions are stitched. Stitches are torn. The operation repeats.

A knife is applied, incisions are stitched, stitches are torn, the operation repeats.

A knife is applied incisions are stitched stitches are torn the operation repeats




I am indebted to Itamar B.Z. and The Seventh Eye for their weekly survey of Israeli media.

Amitai Ben-Abba, Writer/Producer of Objector (Winner: Best International Documentary at HSDFF), is an Israeli dissident currently based in the Bay Area.


Amitai Ben-Abba, Producer/Writer of the award-winning documentary Objector, is a writer and filmmaker based in Oakland, CA.