The only word that does not fail me now: “Gaza!” – Mondoweiss
Words keep on falling, in all the statements that we keep crafting… crafting… crafting. They keep falling like the missiles that have been bombarding an entire imprisoned population in Gaza.
Let’s not try to apply logic to the Gaza wound and call ourselves a civilized world. We, the people in the West, I include myself, live far away and theorize about how more than 2.3 million people should act and react as the world fails, time and again, to recognize their existence as human beings in the largest prison on earth—
Gaza! Gaza! Gaza!
This is the only word that does not fail me now. Gaza! I want to etch it on every part of my body. All other words keep failing and falling to my left and right: a heap of empty gestures! I condemn all language now. That’s what I condemn. Because if you cannot pronounce this word, Gaza, if you are being intimidated and banned from even showing sympathy with Gaza, then nothing should be said but…Gaza! Gaza! Gaza!
Gaza, you are Palestine now, even though in terms of numbers and measurements, you are a strip of blood that makes up 1% of the historical land of Palestine.
Yes, the Gaza Nightmare Project has been building up to this point, when for 17 years, a piece of earth was removed from the world, only to sustain the slow murder of its jailed population, its men and women, its babies and children, its mothers, its mothers, its mothers…who have been giving birth to “human-animals” according to Dr. Israel, who applies pressure on the wound. Let’s not blame Dr. Israel. He’s got all the official titles and stamps to practice his own brand of medicine…for as long as he wants apparently…The doctor has had a bad fight with the neighbors, and he is angry…he’s taking shot after shot of the best America whisky…and he’s lost his mind completely…but he’s got his degrees up on the separation wall and he’s feeling extra-good about murder today!
Let’s complete the nightmare! Let’s ask this million to move to the south, let’s keep the other million where it’s at! They are only numbers! It’s nice to put units of measurement on genocide!
“The degrees can speak to my authority!” says Dr. Israel, “I’ve done my dirty work on behalf of the advanced world, and I have their support and recognition. I mean don’t we all want Tel Aviv to regain its magnetic charm as one of the best vacation spots in the democratic world? Come, children. Mind your shoes. Step over the pool of blood. This is your Birthright, right?!”
“WRONG!” Gaza cries.
But shshshshshshh…. please, do not raise your voice. The Germans, the French, and the big bear of the world, the US, sustainer of its own domestic nightmares, are still sleeping. It’s too early in the morning over there…we need coffins coffins coffins to wake up death…it’s our way of handling the situation. Would you like a muffin with that coffin?! Yes, please that would be divine! Just divine!
“WRONG!” cries Gaza. “Wrong is what we know. It’s our entire lives. Babies are born into this Wrong and spend their short-lived lives in the Wrong!”
When words keep falling and failing, what can be done? This is the time, it is now, to say this is WRONG! It is time to say: “The Gaza Nightmare Project shall not be completed on my watch! This now shall not be what defines my silence!” Shall I leave this tone behind to speak of the facts?! You’ll try to silence me. I know! I’m used to it! Let’s create another heap: 75 years of occupation! The longest sustained period of occupation in our modern human history! “And who are you?!” you ask me.
I am the enemy now, here in this country, on this esteemed campus of the University of Pennsylvania. That’s why no one here will extend “an official word of sympathy” to me. Was I not in this same situation as a Palestinian undergraduate student after the attacks of 9/11, when I lived in New York City? How can I forget! I’ve been telling this story for 23 years. I did not imagine that I would be re-telling it now. I was 18 years old, and all I wanted was to show grief for the loss of lives… when I entered the vigil in the Chapel at Manhattan College, I saw a friend. I ran “mitl el-ahbal” to extend my hand for a firm shake! My friend kept my hand in the air, and said to me: “I don’t shake hands with the enemy!”
The saying must be true: “history repeats itself” and we must be the stupidest species on the planet because we allow it to, without any shame!
Shame on you UPenn! Shame on you for repeating my experience for every Palestinian student on your campus. Shame on you for making every one of us burn in our own “human-animal” skin. No one in the official trenches gives a damn about what a Palestinian poet, or even worse, a poet from Palestine, has to say. But I thought that my existence in one of the “beacons of knowledge,” one of our esteemed Ivy Leagues, would mean a thing! Little did I know that I’d be reduced to the enemy again, just like I was as an 18-year-old undergraduate in this country.
I have nothing but this nothing that you keep offering me, and it’s all I’ll be working with from now on. I would just hope that you’d spare all the students who sympathize with the plight of Gaza some of this nothing, and that you’d fulfill your duty to your student body equally and unequivocally. I wish you had the decency to care for all your students without severing Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim from the rest… to offer them fake sympathy in darkened rooms for fear that your donors might disapprove of even your disingenuous gestures…how you have publicly erased and dehumanized your students in statement after statement. Shame on you for creating an oppressive atmosphere, Dr. Penn …for silencing your students’ voices and intimidating them for the sake of your image and your donors. Shame on you for taking the US State Department’s line on this issue, and like the US State Department, you have blood on your hands, and the one you have executed so mercilessly on this campus is freedom of speech!
My final words are to cry the only word that matters now: “Gaza! Gaza! Gaza!”
No water, no food, no electricity, no internet, no hope. Everyone is witnessing this massacre, and the least thing you could do is cry out this word: Gaza! Gaza! Gaza!
If you have no shame, and you want to witness the massacre from your air-conditioned towers, then don’t try to silence us, maybe shut your big windows that let in all the sun and shield you from the darkness you look down upon… because the streets are going to fill with so many in the world that want to scream to the seventh sky—
Gaza! Gaza! Gaza!
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