This week I wrote and re-wrote a YLE article to describe the complex humanitarian emergency unfolding due to Hamas’s attacks and counteracts. A dire public health crisis is unfolding front and center. I have written at least a dozen drafts. Had many conversations with Jewish and Palestinian friends gracious enough to provide constructive feedback. I’ve stayed up many nights. My copy editor is about to wring my neck. My toddlers keep knocking on my office door.
I don't know what your copy editor is telling you, but you haven't mentioned the words "Israeli atrocities". These words belong right alongside the words "Hamas terrorism". Perhaps I am emboldened to say these words because I am Jewish, and it is more difficult to call me antisemitic.
What you DID write helps us all.. you are a special human.. thank you..
A vicious Hamas pogrom is being met with Israeli collective punishment and genocide with full US backing. Seventeen words.
More could be added, such as this by a Jewish Israeli scholar of the Holocaust and genocide: https://jewishcurrents.org/a-textbook-case-of-genocide
It’s not so tongue-tyingly hard.
Focusing on twenty-odd trucks after two weeks for 2.3m people, at least half of whom are children, who have been under “total siege”—no food, water, fuel, medicine, anesthesia, et al, ramping up from the “starvation diet” of eighteen years of “normal siege”—who are officially considered “human animals” of whom “[none] are innocent” as hope instead of the sick insult it is doesn’t help in any way except letting ourselves off the hook.
Because we are jointly responsible for this.
So I’m not too interested in our collective emotional state right now—we, in our comfy homes worrying about our “cost of care” (for whom?)—except insofar as the memory of one genocide is being cynically abused to permit another. I’m focused on doing all I can to stop US-backed collective punishment and genocide.
Never again. No matter who the victims or perpetrators are.
Hamas is holding the Gazans hostage? Um... that is a complete misstatement. I am no apologist for Hamas, which unfortunately I need to say, because every time someone tries to contextualize their atrocities others make accusations that one is justifying terrorism. Not at all. It is a horrific, horrific humanitarian crisis, where both sides are currently committing war crimes, and the only ultimate solution (after a cease fire) would be for everyone in the region to have equal political and human rights. That means, for example, no apartheid laws, no two sets of roads, no checkpoints, no open air prison in Gaza. The fascist government of Israel seems hell-bent on the genocide of a people they describe as animals. Not in my name!
Katelyn, I hear you saying "I can't do this justice right now so I'm not going to write about it." You don't have to immediately have all the answers. But I wonder whether choosing to highlight only the horrific violence done by Hamas, and thereby minimizing decades of brutal occupation, is actually a move that aligns with your values.
You're a violence epidemiologist, right? What on earth did you mean by "conditions fed with neglect for years from within?" The Israeli government, funded by the US, has maintained a system of apartheid and held 2,000,000 people hostage in Gaza for decades. They control whether Gazans have access to water, food, fuel, and medicine. They use racist language that refers to Palestinians as animals. Israel, with the explicit support of western governments, including yours and mine, is poised to erase Palestine -- to kill or forcibly move every Palestinian from their lands, and to rename Palestine as if it has always been Israel. This is not neglect. This is a slow genocide that is now accelerating. I am terrified for what this will mean for the world if it is not stopped. If millions of people do not speak out against the occupation of Palestine.
Thank you. We are all speechless.
It would seem that a precondition for good public health is peace. Without that, our once lofty goals are reduced to sifting through rubble, tending to broken bodies families and human spirits, and fleeing the next atrocity. It might be why writing this post was so difficult, in addition to the emotional toll that terrorism and war take, even from afar, though immeasurably worse for those at ground zero. Public health as I understand it deals with population level disease, hygiene, epidemiology, and prevention. War destroys all that and more.
I thought Biden’s address last night was excellent, too. Listen to it as just an American for a moment, regardless of political party.
There's a famous scene in the TV series MASH when a surgeon says war is worse than Hell. The Chaplain asks, how do you figure that? "Father, who is in Hell?" "Sinners, I believe." "Exactly: there are no innocents in Hell."
Thank you. As always. Showing the grappling and thought and heart matters too. And yes, presence, presence, as you showed in the heart of COVID, particularly for our babies, and now again. Presence and wisdom. Thank you.
Your "failure" to write find the words to describe the horror that afflicts everyone in the region is eloquent indeed. Words fail us all, even a talented communicator like you. There is no easy way to paint the picture of the pain and suffering of children and families on both sides. There is no easy narrative that helps us see things in black and white. We should focus, as you did, on our shared humanity and on ending the horror. Thank you
It is WITHOUT QUESTION that Jews deserve to feel safe from harm and prejudice. That SAFETY is a basic human right. That anti-semitism, especially as it has increased in the wake of Trump's presidency, is EVERYONE'S problem.
All we are saying is: NO ONE'S liberation comes at the cost of someone else's oppression. That shouldn't be controversial??? Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN have been sounding the alarm and publishing reports about the inhumane conditions Palestinians have been living in for 70+ years, including not being allowed to collect rain water without a "permit" from the Israeli government (source: "The Occupation of Water" report published by Amnesty International on 11/29/2017). But these facts don't matter to people. The constant gaslighting is so exhausting.
As appalled as I am by the Hammas attack, I find odd how those of us in the WEIRD nations (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) believe that because we can’t see the civilian deaths we've caused by bombs & missiles in our 20 yrs war in the SWA, that they are less horrific than what happened in Israel. Brown University’s Watson Center “cost of war” project keeps a running tallyi. An interesting chart:
46k in Afghanistan, around 200k in Iraq. Since the US military asiduously avoids tallying civilian deaths for fear of the public backlash, we’ll never know hiw many can be attributed to us or to the “other guy.”
In remote killing, if you can’t smell the breath of your victim, I guess that they don’t count.
There are no words to describe the sorrow but you have come close. So appreciated! Thank you!
Thank you. What you have done is no failure, but rather a clear statement of what it means to be humans confronted with the worst we have within us. It seems to me that what we have done over the course of our time on earth as Homo sapiens sapiens, is to pile trauma on top of trauma, while rarely, if ever, achieving compassionate resolution of any of the traumatic events. Payback, revenge, demonization of the other...these are our particular talents that can enable us to commit atrocities with what appears to be clear conscience. And we ignore the data that shows what happens to people, even trained soldiers, when they kill. My favorite hymn from churchgoing days was "Turn back, o man, forswear thy foolish ways." Thank you again, for speaking to the unspeakable.
Thank you very much for all you have written!
You've done a great service to us.