By Ahmad Barqawi
I wonder if this day is any different than any other ‘ordinary’ day for Palestinian mothers in Gaza; more blockade, no access to running water, more electricity blackouts, more explosive sounds of leftover missiles from the latest attack and certainly more disappointments from the international community.
This day I imagine; the Palestinian Mother in Gaza is going about her usual business (which does not even resemble the normal life we sometimes deem "intolerable"). Standing in long lines from 5:00 in the morning to try and get hold of one loaf of bread for the little ones still asleep at home; Holding back her tears before entering the hospital room where a child of hers lies; rendered disabled because of a white phosphorous shell and she wishes if it had been her instead.
The Palestinian mother has long forgotten what it feels like to be safely sound asleep; thousands of thoughts crowd her head; the smell of toxic vapors fill her lungs while burning sneakers, books, closets’ doors, wooden tables and chairs instead of fuel for a chimera of a long lost warmth; yet the wellbeing of her respiratory system is the least of her concerns as she tries her hardest to explain for her curious kids why it is so hard to find milk in Gaza or why it’s virtually impossible to go and visit their favorite uncle in the west bank, attempting to answer such questions with simple words to satisfy their curiosity without portraying a gloomy picture of a world they have yet to explore is a daunting task; but the children know; they know that Palestinian people in Gaza are devastatingly alone in this ordeal, they know that International Laws and Human Rights declarations the west keeps bragging about so much do not apply here and that the United Nations charter and the Geneva Conventions suddenly become merely willful hallucinations when it comes to Gaza, and they know that Egypt keeps sealing the Rafah border in the face of the injured, banning the admission of fuel, food and medical aids.
Nowadays news have surfaced of Israeli soldiers giving detailed accounts of some of the horrific doings they’ve participated in during the three week long aggression and more than that; these accounts were not revealed in the course of an official investigation of military misconduct nor during guilty conscience awakenings; they were part of a technical analysis for the Israeli military’s performance and group discussions in an academic college; some sort of presentations or case studies if you will; and you’d think that the world would immediately act on it but of course it won’t.
Israeli soldiers spoke freely and candidly knowing that they have one of the biggest PR machines that can make this whole affair blow over as if it never happened. One of these stories talk about shooting a Palestinian mother and two of her children deliberately after being ordered out of their home by troops; another was of ordering to shoot and kill an elderly Palestinian woman from a distance as she was walking down a road because apparently she represented an “imminent threat” for the heavily-equipped soldiers. Giving all of that, U.N. officials still say that war crimes ‘may’ have been committed. ‘May’ have been committed! I guess it’s safe to say that this will be another chance that the international community will not take to redeem itself; and plenty of those will come in the future.
On this day; when human rights violations in Gaza have become the norm; when we seem to have lost the will to sympathize with Gazans in their plight, and even our interest in their cause appears to be occasional and forced; as if activated by a switch; and we start to forget again that we’re just passive spectators which is probably the most insidious thing about the media; if it’s not broadcasted 24 hours a day; we forget.
On this day; when the least acceptable standard of living has become a privilege exclusively enjoyed by everyone as long as they’re living outside the borders of the strip; on this day when the world should know better to at least have the minimum measure of logic if not the decency to stand for that.
On this day: we celebrate and honor all Palestinian mothers: you embody all that is pure and dignified in a world that’s running low on those particular traits; you are the true north for our cause when it loses its way (and often it does) and you safeguard the pride of every free human being on this earth; please pardon our tremendous affection for this poignant state of “self-incriminating silence” we’ve been drowning in by the minute since Sabra and Shatilla, Deir Yassin and Jenin.
– Ahmad Barqawi contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.