Born in Gaza

Image of collapsed building.

Image by Emad El Byed.

She wasn’t born in a safe hospital. Bulldozers made them into cemeteries. She wasn’t born in a loving home. They were obliterated by a one-ton bomb in a city turned into rubble by thousands of one-ton bombs. She wasn’t even born in a manger.

She was born in a ripped tent on a dirty blanket laying on hard sand where sewage leaked in. She died tonight without a name. An American bomb sucked the air out of her fragile lungs drawing their first breaths.

She died a week later, her mother starving, unable to suckle her, unable to scavenge a few drops of formula. “We are fighting human animals … no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel.”

A Palestinian was born tonight. He died after a month, succumbing to diarrhea, dysentery, respiratory infection, meningitis, chickenpox, hepatitis. He had never been washed. He never felt the tender rough hands of his grandmother bathe him.

He died when he was one. He never stepped foot in his family’s mosque, clapping and smiling with that little bit of drool toddlers get out of the side of their mouths when everyone oohs and aahs over them. The mosques are all Hamas, don’t you know? We regretfully destroyed them. We are “the most moral army in the world.”

He died when he was five. He never ate fish on the beach right out of the sea, fried in olive oil, slathered with crushed garlic, dusted with chili pepper, as he soaked in the Mediterranean sun. The fishing boats were bombed. They were Hamas, too.

He never bit into one of those candy-sweet watermelons Gaza is famous for. He never held the green rind, enjoyed the juicy burst of red flesh, gnawed it down to the white pith, and spit out black seeds at his sister. She’s dead, too. We are looking into it. We had to poison the land with bombs, the aquifer with saltwater to flush out Hamas Nazi terrorists. It’s all Hamas’ fault. Even the air is Hamas. We had to burn it with white phosphorus. “We cherish life.”

Tonight a Palestinian will be born. She died when she was 10. She never had a proper home. She never had a school beyond a patch of shade under a tree. We destroyed a greater proportion of homes in Gaza in one month than the Allies did in Germany in four years. We had to destroy schools, colleges, libraries. We told you everything was Hamas. “We are too nice. We are too considerate.”

She died when she was 21. She never took a class from the poet who wrote his own obituary, “If I must die, let it bring hope, let it be a tale.” She was never mentored by the writer who taught a generation the singular power of storytelling. She never pondered the beauty of math with the renowned physicist. She never contemplated the paintings of the promising young artist. She never followed the reports or joined the debates sparked by 100 different journalists. “Are you seriously asking me about Palestinian civilians?” “It is an entire nation out there that is responsible.”

Tonight a Palestinian will be born. She will live. Many others will live. They will live to see a free Palestine from the River to the Sea. For all peoples and beliefs. In a world free of colonialism. Then, perhaps, there will be peace on Earth and good will to all.

Arun Gupta is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York and has written for publications including the Washington Post, the Nation, Salon, and the Guardian. He is the author of the upcoming “Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction: A Junk-Food-Loving Chef’s Inquiry into Taste” (The New Press).