Monday, December 29, 2008

Do Not Forget

my rage is inarticulate today. i cannot believe this is happening again, not because it is not predictable, but because the Israeli state's insistence on perpetuating genocide in my generation threatens my belief in humanity. i take this personally.

i am grateful that i hold someone in my heart whose rage is articulate.

i ask that as we hold everyone in Gaza in our hearts we remember this poem by June Jordan:

Apologies to All the People in Lebanon

Dedicated to the 60,000 Palestinian men, women and children who lived in Lebanon from 1948-1983

I didn't know and nobody told me and what
could I do or say, anyway?

They said you shot the London Ambassador
and when that wasn't true
they said so
They said you shelled their northern villages
and when U.N. forces reported that was not ture
because your side of the cease-fire was holding
since more than a year before
they said so
They said they wanted simply to carve
a 25 mile buffer zone and then
they ravaged your
water supplies your electricity your
hospitals your schools your highways and byways all
the way north to Beirut because they said this
was their quest for peace
They blew up your homes and demolished the grocery
stores and blocked the Red Cross and took away doctors
to jail and they cluster-bombed girls and boys
whose bodies
swelled purple and black into twice the original size
and tore the buttocks from a four month old baby
and then
they said this was brilliant
military accomplishment and this was done
they said in the name of self-defense they said
that is the noblest concept
of mankind isn't that obvious?
They said something about never again and then
they made close to on million human beings homeless
in less than three weeks and they killed or maimed
40,000 of your men and your women and your children

But I didn't know and nobody told me and what
could I do or say, anyway?

They said they were victims. They said you were
They called your apartments and gardens guerilla

They called the screaming devastation
that they created the rubble.
Then they told you to leave, didn't they?

Didn't you read the leaflets that they dropped
from their hotshot fighter jets?
They told you to go.
One hundred and thirty-five thousand
Palestinians in Beirut and why
didn't you take the hint?
There was Mediterranean: You
could walk into the water and stay
What was the problem?

I didn't know and noboby told me and what
could I do or say, anyway?

Yes, I did know it was the money I earned as a poet that
for the bombs and the planes and the tanks
that they used to massacre your family

But I am not an evil person
The people of my country aren't so bad

You can expect but so much
from those of us who have to pay taxes and watch
American TV

You see my point;

I'm sorry.
I really am sorry.


Throughout her career June Jordan was punished by the US publishing establishment for her refusal to be silent about Isreali aggression against Palestinians and the anti-Arab dehumanization that characterized US foreign engagement with the Middle East. People said she was alienating herself by taking this issue so personally.

I take it personally.

Modelling the form of transnational feminist solidarity that we must aspire towards, June Jordan famously said "I was born a black woman, but now am become Palestinian."

I take it personally that CNN says that Isreal is at war with Hamas, both because it uses the name of an organization to obscure the fact that this attack is launched against the Palestinian people. CNN, like the Israeli state, refuses again and again to even admit that there is such a people as the Palestinian people, that there is such a place as occupied Palestine. This is how genocide works, and I take it personally. I take it personally that in this age a "war" is no longer defined as a military engagement between two nation-states, that we can use the word "war" to describe what an occupying force, in the form of an apartheid state does to the people it has captured in a concentration camp. I am outraged that the only thing we can call for is a cease-fire, as if there is balance. As if these two entities have ever been equal. As if the United States has not been sending most of it's (our) international aid to buy weapons and build walls for the aggressor, the Israeli State. As if the more than 300 Palestinian people killed were equal to the one Israeli person caught by a missile that Hamas launched AFTER 30 missiles hit Gaza.

Would our strategy be to ask for a cease fire between the MOVE organization and the Philadelphia police? Would our strategy be to ask for a cease fire between the Black Panther Party and co-intel pro. "Cease-fire" is a belated and non-sensical term when the resources, the forms of weapons, have already been alloted so disproportionately.

I have a slingshot. When they come for me with a tank will you ask for a cease-fire, ask both sides to calm down?

I am taking this personally. I am not going to calm down.

All you have to do is remember that Palestinians are people like any other people, full of love and hope and beauty and brilliance who can be hurt, even while surviving occupation, racism, attacks against every one of their institutions and the unjust loss over and over again of the lives of their loved ones, of the homes of their skins, of the disrespect of being called out of your name and exiled in your own land again and again. All you have to do it remember that Palestinians are people and the absurdity and tragedy of this situation will fall on your heart and crush it, like mind is crushed today.

But the mass media is asking you to forget, with every word choice transmitted over here about what is going on in occupied Palestine right now. Asking you to forget that simple truth that even without a state (i would say ESPECIALLY without a state) people are people: full of love and priceless.

June Jordan's incisive repetition of "They said/they said so/what" in her poem is an illustration of what we are still being told today. The words of the Israeli state get credit (like the massive amounts of weapon-buying aid that we send them...on credit that they will never have to repay) and when their weak arguments for self defense against a group of people that they have forced into a cage prove to be lies, our media turns away.

All we have to do it to remember that there is no justification for genocide and we will see clearly what justice is. But our media is asking us to forget. Our 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel attending President and our "hail the great state of Israel" President-elect are asking us to forget.

Do not forget.


Mehammed "Abou" Mack said...

Thank you for writing this. Your words, and June's, are really powerful.

abigailasewell said...

wow. you have exposed me to another way to see this story. thank you for your anger.