The Day the Earth and Sky Traded Places
By Jennifer Loewenstein CounterPunch
Around 10:30pm on the night of February 28, M and his wife S spoke in low tones in a dark room dimly lit by a battery-operated lamp. They were trying to decide if it was still safe to send their children to school and decided in favor because the elementary school building is in a safer part of the city near a number of international offices. The electricity in the building had been out 10 hours by then and the couple pulled blankets around them to keep warm in the damp winter air. They live on the 6th floor of Shifa Tower, an 11-story apartment building housing more than a hundred families.
When the blast occurred that took out the Interior Ministry building across the street, there was no time to think about what to do. M flew into his children’s bedroom and threw himself over the sleeping body of his son, Basel, to shield the young boy’s body from the glass shattering in the windows beside his bed. Then after a matter of seconds the three young children, two girls and the boy, were taken to the windowless kitchen, all of them now fully awake and crying out in terror. M threw blankets and pillows around them where they huddled for the night in restless sleep and dreams of horror, their mother sobbing silently over them as she caressed their faces.
M returned to the children’s room in time for the second deafening blast that made him put up his arms instinctively. When he let them down and looked out into the night sky, it was all brown, the earth from underneath the destroyed buildings was swirling around outside the bedroom windows and he could see nothing but flying debris, smoke and a wall of dirt. For some time he could not hear well, only watch-dazed- hypnotized by the silence after the aerial strikes.
In the morning, no one went outside. “This is a black day in Gaza,” M wrote; “a holocaust as (Israeli deputy defense minister Matan) Vilnai put it. There is an attack every five or ten minutes. It keeps our nerves on edge and our senses strained. There is so much rage at what is happening; especially the scenes of murdered children and babies. I am so busy I don’t know how to describe my feelings. I work to avoid feeling because right now that’s too unbearable.”
Watch as A, a Hamas soldier, runs for his life into his house. His pursuers miss shooting him so they launch three rockets into the house on the edge of Jabalya camp killing everyone inside (four family members). They are angry now so every house in the way gets the same treatment and without the “militant” to guide their next moves: rockets fired into the interiors of homes with no knowledge of who is inside. Eye-witnesses report this and worse: a six month old baby girl becomes tiny body parts with her mother and brother. A small child is cut apart by shrapnel and screams that she doesn’t want to die just before leaving this world. The mothers and fathers cannot protect them so they weep and scream at the funerals that this side of the world never views, especially during basketball season.
Who really cares about these children? Every Palestinian is a militant because everyone (sooner or later) wants Israel off their land, out of their lives, and forgotten like a horrible dream. It is for this reason that they are all equal targets: none of them is intelligent enough to understand that their land isn’t their land, their lives are not their lives, and their horrible dream is their present and future. Have no pity on those who don’t get it.
The night strikes from F-16s and helicopter missiles continued throughout the day on Friday the 29 and into the first weekend in March, unceasing in their ferocity and indiscriminate killing revenge for the death early last week of an Israeli student at Sapir College outside Sderot. For every one Israeli life, scores of Palestinians must die. God help us now that two Israeli soldiers have been killed fighting on occupied land, against unwilling slaves; killing innocent people to maintain a 60-year-old injustice. Brace yourself, Gaza. You will pay dearly for the continuation of this crime.
Let us not reflect too much on what all this means. How, for example, would the 47-year-old Sapir College student like to know that his death has been far more useful to his State than his life? For in death he provided another pretext to carry out mass murder of the Arab Untermenschen blocking the otherwise pleasant view to the sea in the southeastern Promised Land. His death challenged the Israeli rules of combat: the “We kill and You Die” warfare, the only type allowed by the Neo-Jewish Masters and their allies in the United States who have no intention of making a just peace with the lower forms of life in their midst. The sanctimonious demand that the Qassams must be stopped is a deliberate lie intended to make you forget that the Qassams provide a near fool-proof pretext for grabbing more of Gaza and setting more of it to ruin; and that the Qassams are the result of systematic national torture and evisceration, borne themselves of occupation, caused by it, improved upon ! by periods of siege, sadism and mass killing.
Peace would require relinquishing regional hegemony. Peace would demand sharing the land and the resources equally. Peace might, heaven forbid, require democratic decision making in a region where the Israelis are not better, more entitled, more deserving of Their Way than everyone else in the neighborhood. Well, sorry, but these are not on Israel’s agenda. The leaders of the hapless Sderot student’s racially pure dreamland are grateful for his dying: Now the angry flames of intolerance can burn on feverishly. Into those flames the bodies of each dead Gazan man, woman or child should be flung, like books, to consecrate the ritual, the burnt offering, of those who owe the latter-day Israelites their Modern Day Zion. In Holy Victimhood shall We Reign Supreme.
Surely this would satisfy Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit who bellowed that if it were up to him, Israeli soldiers going into Gaza should shoot “everything that moves” like babies and toddlers, grandfathers and mothers, orange trees and wasted-away donkeys pulling cartloads of rotten vegetables; like flowers and seabirds, chickens and goats, rats and cockroaches. A scorched-earth policy will suffice. They’ll create their apocalyptic wilderness and will call it peace.
No one needed Sheetrit to legitimize the strategy of creating oblivion from hell. Untermenschen who can be denied food, water, fuel, electricity, medical supplies, the right to leave and return home, the right to not to die in an ambulance that without the proper permits, the right to their own land and their own nationhood precisely because they are lesser human beings can also be picked off one by one or in groups or in families or because they are “militants,” or all of the above, who deserve no fair hearing, due process, photographs, names, headlines, stories, grief or televised tear-jerker funerals to commemorate their sacrifices. In such a world contexts are an insult to the intelligence of the policy-makers.
Plea after plea from human rights organizations, legal organizations, religious charities and leaders, children’s welfare organizations, medical aid projects, refugee relief societies, international humanitarian agencies, celebrities, parliamentarians, foreign policy analysts and countless others go not only unheeded but unread, unheard, a waste of one’s time. Is there a reason why the carnage in Gaza is continuing before our very eyes and no State or Non-state actor strong enough to make a difference is bothering to step in? The shame is ours, for Israel and its US Master have long since resided in the lowest circle of Hell for betraying the name of humanity.
Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the board of the Israeli Coalition against House Demolitions-USA branch, founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and a freelance journalist. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org