Attacks on Gaza
I was going to post today about how I got the Wii Fitness for Christmas and what my thoughts were.
But today, the only thing I can think about and post about is what is happening in the Gaza strip right now.
Two days after Christmas, the Israeli government began military strikes against Gaza. Children were heading home from school, university students were waiting for the bus to pick them up, fathers were sending their children out on errands.
And then the strikes began and Gaza was blown to shreds.
And of course, that video was released the day that the bombings began, so the casualty count is off--the latest count put the dead at 310, well over 700 wounded and several key institutions (including the Islamic University) as destroyed (http://www.hindu.com/2008/12/30/stories/2008123055161200.htm). All these people dead, all these institutions destroyed--so that we can all feel good about three Hamas officers being killed (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050449.html).
Now, we all know that there's a long history of conflict in the region. And I encourage you to do some research on how colonization has been normalized and justified through the extended manipulation of the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors (see Norman Finkelstein and Edward Said for great introductions). But I don't want to get into historical perspectives at the moment, because what usually happens is discussions spiral out of control and a game of finger pointing over 'whose fault this is' begins.
What I want to do is point to Safa, a young woman in Gaza City (http://israelitybites.blogspot.com/2008/12/gaza-bleeds-under-israeli-air...). Read her eye witness testimony:
I've never seen anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me and I'm in the middle of it and a few hours have already passed. I think 15 locations were hit during the air raid on Gaza City. [some Israelis sources said 150 targets were struck] The images are probably not broadcast in US media. There are piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you look at them you can see that a few of the young men are still alive, someone lifts a hand here, and another raise his head there. They probably died within moments because their bodies are burned, most have lost limbs, some have their guts hanging out and they're all lying in pools of blood. Outside my home, (which is close to the universities) a bomb fell on a large group of young men, university students, they'd been warned not to stand in groups, it makes them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. This was about 3 hours ago 7 were killed, 4 students and 3 of our neighbors kids, teenagers who were from the same family (Rayes) and were best friends. As I'm writing this I heard a funeral procession go by outside, I looked out the window and it was the 3 Rayes boys, They spent all their time together when they were alive, and now their sharing the same funeral together. Nothing could stop my 14 year old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He hasn't spoken a word since.
A little further down the street about an hour earlier 3 girls happened to be passing by one of the locations when a bomb fell. The girls bodies were torn into pieces and covered the street from one side to the other.
These are just a couple of images that I've witnessed. In all the locations people are going through the dead terrified of recognizing a family member among them. The city is in a state of alarm, panic and confusion, cell phones aren't working, hospitals and morgues are backed up and some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them. Outside the destroyed buildings old men are kneeling on the floor weeping. Their slim hopes of finding their sons still alive vanished after taking one look at what had become of their office buildings.
At least 160 people dead in today's air raid. That means 160 funeral processions, a few today, most of them tomorrow probably. To think that yesterday these families were worried about food and heat and electricity. At this point I think they -actually all of us- would gladly have Hamas sign off every last basic right we've been calling for the last few months forever if it could have stopped this from ever having happened.
The bombing was very close to my home. Most of my extended family live in the area. My family is ok, but 2 of my uncles' homes were damaged, another relative was injured.
I don't know why I'm sending this. It doesn't even begin to tell the story on any level. Just flashes of thing that happened today that are going through my head.
And now tell me: whose voice are feminists accountable to? The Bush administration, who tells us this is all Hamas's fault? Hamas, who continue to put their own needs above the people they are supposed to be advocating for? The Israeli administration, who sends bombs and devastation along with starvation and slow death (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-7MR39X?OpenDocument)?
Or maybe feminists have no choice but to be accountable to the thousands of women like Safa. Palestinian women living under a horrific siege in which they are witnessing their children starving to death, being blown to shreds, or encouraged to join violent resistance.
How much do we think that these women can take before they finally break? Do we want them to break? What kind of feminists are we if we say yes?
Yes, the situation is complicated and fraught with emotion. But my suggestion is to search for the voices of women, for the organizations where women, and specifically Palestinian women, are leaders and speakers. Search for those places, and when you find them, remember that the question is not "whose fault is this," but how can we act as true allies to women who are witnessing and being subjected to nationalistic (i.e. male centered and dominated) violence.
In that light, I offer the following (via:http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10055.shtml) :
Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it."
The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.
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