Sunday, December 28, 2008


It's all over the news: Gaza is being pounded into rubble by the Israeli army.

The statistics: over 230 targets hit by Israeli air strikes, over 275 Gazans dead (including women and children), over 600 injured, over 150 in critical condition, and unknown numbers of people lying beneath the carnage.

Everyone around me is angry. Furious. I was in the mall with my family this morning and ran into some old Emirati friends: everyone replaced the customary small talk with a torrent of exclamations about Gaza. Back at home, we got a phone call from our Palestinian neighbors: they asked us to pray for their family members, who were cowering in their apartments in Gaza. I spoke to some friends and family: they were cursing the Zionists left and right, asking God to "punish the unjust aggressors." I logged on to Facebook: nearly all of my friends had some sort of tribute to Gaza on their profiles. Some had replaced their profile pictures with images of Gaza, others had updated their status to mourn the dead, and still others had written notes describing their horror and anger at the massacre that was taking place in the city.

But me? How do I feel? I'm numb. There's this little scratchy feeling deep in my chest somewhere, but other than that, I can't really feel anything. I should be riled up. Angry and furious like the rest. But I'm not. Maybe its because I feel that this keeps happening in Palestine, that everything is just hopeless, that to get angry is to hope for a solution that could extinguish that anger when I don't see any solution coming for a long, long time. Maybe I've given up.

All this and I don't even live in Palestine. I have so much respect - so much respect - for the people who live under occupation there, day in and day out, and still manage to have hope. I'm here in Dubai, living in complete comfort, with final exams my biggest worry of the day. I cannot imagine being walled in Gaza, with rockets raining over my head, and still be able to stand and fight for my survival, much less for my land and my people.

Palestine is an open wound in the hearts of many. Not just Arabs and Muslims, but people all over this planet who see a balanced reporting of both sides of the conflict. And this is the biggest bloodbath Palestine has witnessed since the 1967 war. Words, or at least my words, cannot come close to describing what we as a group are feeling.

As I write this, I'm realizing that I do feel something: immense sadness. Anger is there too, just bubbling slowly away under the surface of that sadness. I don't know what to do with that anger yet, or where to direct it, so I'm just letting it simmer for the moment. Writing is all I can do, so I'm doing it.

Right now, I'm turning you over to a person much more qualified to speak about the bombings in Gaza than I am. It's Mohammad, a writer on KABOBfest. As a resident of Palestine, he's experiencing all of this in a way most of us can only imagine. The passion and clarity in his post are extremely impressive. But most of all, it is the hope that underlies those things that gets me. If he didn't have hope for a solution to the problems of Palestine, he wouldn't be spending hours writing articles like this up:

Gaza: the slaughter of a people.

Thank you Mohammad, for keeping a flame burning for Palestine, while you wait for the rest of us to have the courage to do the same.


Anna Ray said...

Thanks for this post, Nour. I'm not sure how to feel either. I can only imagine what the people of Gaza are going through, and how family and friends are coping with losses.
I just can't believe that this happened. I'm mad at Hamas for not caring more about their people--Israel's a bully. of COURSE they're going to pound you--but I"m really mad at Israel and the US! Come on, 270+ civilians dead is *not* a strike on Hamas. And America, you just sit back and watch?
I think it all boils down to this: I am sorry. I am truly sorry.

Anna Ray said...

And one more thing: I feel justified in being angry at America's inaction because we are Israel's closest ally. However, I don't think it's America's responsibility to make sure that other nations are not bombing each other. In order for the conflict to be resolved, other Arab nations have to get involved. As long as they're on the sidelines--regardless of the pro-Palestinian banners they're waving--Israel is going to fight, Palestinians will suffer, and the occupation will go on.

Nicholas Karavatos said...

I'm surprised that anyone is surprised.

I think this is just the reply that Hamas was itching for. This is a wet dream of propaganda for them.

Going to great length to separate - I understand the difficulty - the militia compounds from the civilians would protect noncombatants from reprisal attacks. But remaining mingled with civilians will always give them propaganda points with "collateral damage."

With one of the highest birth rates in the world (I wonder why?) Gaza is one of the densest places in the world. However, there is still plenty of open space for military installations. See a Google map at

This would protect civilians. However, ensuring a humanitarian spectacle is better propaganda. Spectacle is one of the tools of war.

Pardon my lack of sentimentality. This is just realpolitik. And why not? The original post referred to almost nothing but sentimentality.

Proportionality – maybe Israel should just use Katyusha rockets.

I wonder where the outcries are whenever Turkey invades northern Iraq to kill PKK.

cromptonenator said...

And the worse problem is that due to the infiltration of Zionism into US politics, it doesn't look set to change. Remember than any bills passing sanctions or cutting off "aid" to Israel on Obama's part would lead to rejection by the largely Israel-leaning Congress.

Additionally, and without wishing to sound inhuman, I think the high birth rates in Gaza that Nicholas mentioned are something to do with the natural cycle in which humans always seem to find a way to not be exterminated - they'll always recover their losses (hence the post-WW2 baby boom.)

My respect for that KABOBfest guy jumped tremendously when he ended with : "Still, that changes absolutely nothing about my general hatred of liberal blogs."

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer said...

I agree with Nick that Hamas and support for Hamas are part of the problem. It's like Bin Laden and Bush -each feed the other. Of course, Fateh was totally corrupt, and Hamas built schools. But targeting civilians is wrong, and it is also a predictable way to bring in Israel and do what Nick sees Hamas doing -keeping power.

For a U.S. citizen, the question is: why are my tax dollars supporting Israel's slow strangulation and then digestion of Palestine, and its massacres?

Nour Merza said...

To play devil's advocate, Dr. J, let me give you this quote from an article by Nir Rosen. (The link to the article is in my post, "Giving to Gaza.")


"An American periodical once asked me to contribute to a discussion on whether terrorism or attacks against civilians could ever be justified.

My answer was that an American journal should not be asking whether attacks on civilians can ever be justified. This is a question for the weak, such as the Native Americans 150 years ago, the Jews in Nazi Germany, and the Palestinians today, to answer.

Terrorism is a normative term which is used to describe what the 'other' does, not what 'we' do.

Powerful nations such as Israel, the US, Russia or China will always describe their victims' struggle as terrorism.

However, they fail to acknowledge as acts of terror the destruction of Chechnya, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the repression of Tibetans, and the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Normative rules and what is legal and permissible are determined by the powerful. They formulate the concept of terrorism in normative terms and make it appear as if a neutral court derived such definitions instead of the oppressors.

For the weak to resist becomes illegal by definition.

This excessive use of legal jargon actually undermines the fundamentals of what is truly legal and diminishes the credibility of international institutions such as the UN. The law becomes the enemy of those who struggle.

It becomes apparent that the powerful - those who make the rules - insist on legality merely to preserve the power relations that serve them or to maintain their occupation and colonialism."