Monday, May 04, 2009

Sail along silver girl: It's Palestine's time to shine?

Yes, I'm quoting Simon and Garfunkel. "Like a bridge over troubled waters...." And this song somehow reminds me of all the people in both Israel and Palestine who are laying down their lives in nonviolent protest against the injustices that Palestinians -- both Muslim and Christian -- have had to endure for the past 61 years. And it's getting harder and harder to ignore these injustices -- it's been over four months since the slaughter at Gaza and still nothing has changed there, the cities still lie in ruin and still no aid is getting through.

And every day it is getting harder and harder to be a bridge over these troubled waters, to put one's body on the line and lay down in nonviolent protest against the growing arsenal of death machines that just keep coming and coming and coming at Palestinians -- simply because they were unlucky enough to be born in the shade of the ancient olive groves of Palestine .

Unlike Paul Simon's silver girl, Palestine's time has obviously not come.

If you look at a map of Palestine today, you will see only a few splattered ink blots and odd spaces depicting the present-day shtetls that are all that is left of a once-thriving civilization that has existed in Palestine for thousands of years. Troubled waters indeed.

Israeli neo-cons spend approximately seven million dollars of American taxpayers' money a day in order to play-act at being Cossacks and raid Palestinian shtetls, using white phosphorus bombs and F-16s and tanks instead of swords and horses. And the Palestinians fight back -- by making the best olive oil in the world.

"All your dreams are on their way. See how they shine."

White phosphorus in the night sky over Gaza does shine and shine and shine. White phosphorus exploding in the moonlight over Gaza is a beautiful sight -- like fireworks on the Fourth of July -- as it rains down death upon the sleeping orchards below.

"When darkness comes -- and pain is all around...."

Europe and America stood silently by when six million Jews and gypsies and protesters against injustice were slaughtered during the Nazi Holocaust. And now Europe and America also stand silent as a smaller, more intimate holocaust takes place over in Palestine -- not like the one that took place in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, but more intimate, like Cossacks riding through shtetls on horses breathing fire -- white phosphorus fire.

Europe and America are sending aid to the dying people of Gaza -- and it is sitting and rotting in huge cinderblock warehouses in Israel. Americans and Europeans are happy -- they've done their part. They've given their money. They've brought the poor Palestinians medical supplies and baby formula and beans and flour and rice. And the food and the humanitarian supplies just sit in these warehouses in Israel and never get to Gaza. And the Israelis also are happy because they get to employ Israelis to mind the warehouses and receive monies for housing the aid workers and be all smug. "I will ease your mind." And the consciences of Americans and Europeans ARE eased. They have managed to appear to be doing something about this new, intimate holocaust -- but without really doing anything.

All I can say now to the people of Palestine -- and the people of Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and America too -- "All your dreams are on their way" -- and mine are too.

If I had my way, if all my wishes would come true, I will comfort you. "When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all. I'm on your side..."

I'm on the side of everyone who longs for a better life for their family and who wants their children safe and who decries Cossack raids and concentration camps and man's inhumanity to man everywhere that it occurs -- be it in Israel or the West Bank or the Congo or even in America. But I must admit that I have a special place in my heart for the people of Palestine.

"Sail along silver girl."

PS: Here are some facts on the ground to back up Palestine's poetry of grief.

According to the Palestine Chronicle, "Israel and Egypt continue to enforce a deadly blockade on Gaza despite international condemnation. Gaza still awaits an international aid package for reconstruction nearly three months after Israel's 23-day attack on the besieged coastal sliver." Nothing is happening to help the Palestinians? Nothing?

"John Ging, Head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, says none of the USD 4.5 billion package of reconstruction aid pledged in March has reached the impoverished region because of border restrictions. 'There is no prospect of recovery or reconstruction until we can get access for construction materials,' Ging told a news briefing during a visit to the EU headquarters in Brussels." NONE of it is getting through?

"'Billions of dollars were pledged for recovery and reconstruction and yet none of that can actually connect with those whose lives were destroyed,' [Ging] added. Israel continues to enforce its 21-month blockade of the Palestinian territory despite international outcries. This is while Egypt has also restricted crossings at its border with Gaza."


"Furthermore, Ging called on the international community to explore avenues in an attempt to come up with a productive and promising solution to the issue of border crossings and provide more access to goods and services for Gazans. 'Today the money is out there in pledges and the people of Gaza continue to subsist in the rubble of their former lives and the attention of the world has sadly moved on, which compounds the despair that people feel,' he commented."

Gaza, all your dreams ARE on their way -- they are on their way to a bunch of gigantic Israeli warehouses, where they will sit and rot forever.

"Three weeks of Israeli air strikes and a ground incursion resulted in the death of over 1,500 Palestinians and the injury of about 5,450 people in the Gaza Strip. Most of the victims were civilians. The carnage also inflicted more than USD 1.6 billion of damage on Gaza's economy."