Letter to an Israeli Mother

By Rassool Jibraeel Snyman

You feed your baby

I strap on my bombs

Two faces of the same mirror

I weep as the straps bite into my flesh

The cry of my babies

Ring in my ears

Their bodies on the rubble of your bombs

Tear me apart

Why do you accuse me

When it was you who made me

Creature that I am

That I am to become

I just another victim of political ambition

And ideological perversion

I pity your children

Housed in a house that was mine

The key still framed on my wall

A symbol of my hope

That justice will prevail

And you will give it back to me

Because it is right

And you are just



And humane

For decades I have withstood

The elements

Winds and rain

Struggled to feed my children

In man made ghettoes

Even as you found love

Made love

Built a home

And raised children

In a home that is mine

I try to forget but I cannot

My memories are in the walls

The ceilings

And floors

A change of paint

Is not a change of truth

Nor ownership

Ownership changes by mutual consent

And good faith

As you sit and gaze out of the window

That overlooks Jerusalem

Are you not in awe of the view

Of the gentle winds that blow

That caress your face 

I too sat there once

My favourite spot

And now yours too

Do you not feel my presence

The serenity we could both share

In a land that is generous enough for both of us

Do you not in the still of the night

Or moments of silence

See my ghost wandering


Weeping softly

At the crimes against me

Against my children

Against my people

You love the house deeply

And so do I

At the foot of the stairs

Hung the portrait

Of Hassan and I

Smiling on our wedding day

I am sure yours hangs there too today

It is the best place for it

Brides look so radiant

On their wedding days

A gift from the gods perhaps

Your wedding gown must have been perfect

Your smile brilliant

And your husband dashing

In his black suit

And silk tie

My smile has faded now

Turned to tears of loss

Of longing

Shadows of what was

Do you not pity me

As you celebrate your wedding anniversary

With wine

From grapes grown on my fields

That was taken from me too

Or your relief at the return of your husband

From the sentry post

Where he shot my husband

My neighbor

And the child next door

Will you grieve with me

Another human has died

Another wall of hatred was built

How do I reach out to you

Or you to me

When between us is a concrete monster

Built on our tears

And dispossession

That snakes through the land

Separating us

We who have shared this land for centuries

In peace

In harmony

As neighbors

As friends

Are now apart

Prisoners of circumstance

Victims of time

As you read this letter

You might be sitting

At the corner of the garden

Under the vines

Where I used to sit

When I need moments of solitude

It is right next to the stone

Where young Ahmed fell and bruised his knee

I recall kissing it better

And drying his tears

Undoubtedly your child fell there too

Bruised his knee

And you wiped away his tears

Our memories may well be the same

Sisters of a different kind

Mother to mother

Palestinian to Israeli

Human to human

I ask that you to read my letter

My anguish

My pain

My loss

And just as I take off the straps

Of that which destroys

With a loud bang

And walk away from it

I ask that you give back to me

That which kills slowly




Give me back my home

My life

My dignity

My history

My memories

I ask that you too walk away

From the injustice

Of owning what is mine

And giving our children

A different legacy

Of peace

Of friendship

Of humanity

I ask that you read my letter

Not as an Israeli

But as a caring mother

And decent human being

Mayhap in the eyes of time

Your reply could change our destinies

Break the circles that bind us

And we all find peace

And an assured tomorrow 

(South AfricaAugust 16, 2009; "Songs from the Ether")

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