No 8: Sabra & Shatila

There is still some ‘off fighting’ in the South of Lebanon, but nothing major and nothing to fear, inshallah. Quite honestly, I don’t believe that either Hizbullah or Israel anticipated or made allowances for what the last 35 days have brought; an end to this can only work in favour of the two, and maybe now the world will remember that while this has gone on in Lebanon, Gaza has been attacked with the usual amount of restraint shown by Israel.

I was speaking with someone about this, and they explained to me why it is that Israel needs to be so hard; this concept of ‘never again’, in terms of the Jewish Holocaust, was what we were discussing. I understand it, but I can not justify it. If anything, it makes me sad that this is the fate of that nation; and it also makes me sad to consider the consequences of the road on which the Palestinians have been and will be forced to travel, due to a particularly devastating history in which they had no role.

One of the important things is that the individual who explained this to me believes that the Palestinian cause is a righteous one, and so the explanation offered was met with more comfort on my part. Actually, it was met with only comfort because of this individual’s recognition of the plight of Palestinians and that of the Jewish community.

The question is simple for me: ‘what happens to you when the world thinks you’re expendable?’ And I think a part of that answer is something Israel is providing right now.

There’s a story which Amira Hass tells about her family. When they were being shipped off like cattle to the concentration camps, Germans were standing by and watching, none of whom tried to step in, none of whom yelled or screamed or challenged what was to come, what was to become of these people. When I read that story I was crying so hard I couldn’t breath. I don’t understand it and I still don’t understand where such gross cruelty and complacency comes from. Every time I think about that still, I am nauseated…it actually hurts me to think about it, and it’s the same feeling I experience when I think about how shortly after the creation of the State of Israel, my mom’s uncle was among the hundreds of Palestinian men pulled from his bed by Israeli officers and taken outside of his home in the middle of the night. Lined up along a wall with the other men from the village and shot dead. It’s the same sickness I get when I think about my own uncle who, as a young man in occupied Palestine was taken into an Israeli prison and came out with epilepsy because he was hit so often in the head.

I don’t differentiate, I refuse to see Jewish blood as opposed to Palestinian blood. I can’t, and I won’t and I don’t believe the Palestinian/Israeli nightmare will be solved until more of us believe in this with every part of who we are.  That we hurt over the blood shed by anyone.

Quite honestly, I don’t know what to do with that sometimes; I don’t know how to walk out of it or deal with it or speak about it because people look at me like I’m insane. But fuck it.

You know, I don’t understand and it’s never been enough for me to think “humans are cruel”, because I have to refuse to believe that. No matter how ugly people are, I have to have faith in something bigger and greater or something, because I think I would fall apart if I didn’t.

I’m talking about this because this afternoon I’m going to the South of Lebanon to visit Sabra & Shatila. I’ll be with the one individual I trust most and who can take care of both myself and the situation should there be a need to do so. Of everyone here, they’re the one I feel most protected by and comfortable with, so for those of you reading, please don’t worry. If I’m to be in any hands, these are the best ones.

Am quite nervous about this, I don’t really know how I’ll react to visiting these two areas, knowing their history and the reality that I am one of the lucky few who – by nothing more than luck – was spared having my blood spilled. That, had I lived that Palestinian history, I too would have been shredded to death, for nothing more than being a Palestinian. How unfortunate that neither the Jewish community nor the Palestinian community recognise the similarities and the connections between their fates; that by virtue of blood, a life lost is a justifiable action.

I don’t know, I’m not really being coherent at this point because I didn’t get much sleep last night. I woke up because of bad dreams, and I was feeling a little empty and as though there was something missing. I don’t know how to explain it to you because it’s the first time I’ve experienced it. There’s something happening to me emotionally that’s taking a toll on me at the moment and it’s something I didn’t anticipate or expect or fucking want. My mind, my spirit and my heart and everything that makes me who I am is being tested to a degree I never imagined. I’m thankful for it, though…whatever it is and whatever the outcome may be.