Friday, January 2, 2009

For a Name Who Has a Face and a Home

364 Dead. 4 Dead. Hundreds Wounded. 7 Wounded. These are the reported numbers from 3 days of bombs, missiles, and death in Gaza AND Southern Israel. I have waited to write this note, to control my anger and hopelessness because I want my words to bring hearing and sight to the deaf and blind. I will not write about politics, strategy, history, or philosophy. Too much has been written about that. Not enough has been written about people. A Palestinian friend of mine wrote it best; “I know for most of you these are news items, but this is my home.” Palestine is not my home, nor is Israel. But Palestinians and Israelis are my sisters and brothers and they are dying. They are burning alive, charred bodies, soon to be burned and buried souls, intent on more death and destruction. They have names and we must know them.

Callousness has led us to this day. More callousness will not lead us to a new day. “Collateral damage” is callous. “Proportionality” is callous. Such words speak of news reports, television pundits and disconnection. But I am not disconnected. I have close friends studying in Israel. Close friends living in Palestine. Close friends living in Lebanon. When bombs and missiles and people start dropping on those places they will drop on my friends. And they will eat the heart with rage and anger and despair.
How does one repair burned flesh? How does one put back together torn and mangled earth? We forget about the earth, the land we all so desperately seek. But seek and we have not found. We have found instead our blood and brains, littered and dumped as refuse.

The names and faces I know are not garbage. The earth I have seen is not garbage. The God I know is not garbage. And so I ask for a shelter of peace, to mend and repair torn bodies and souls. A shelter to pause. For I know a pause is all I can request. Politics and strategy and history and memory are for the future. A future uncertain and more so each day. But a pause. For my sisters and brothers in Gaza and Israel, for friends and loved ones. To remember that a home is not a news item and a body torn and shattered, bloodied and bruised has a name and a face and must be known.

Hal Steinberg, American
Washington, DC

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