Excerpts from ‘Letter to Gaza’ by Mazin Qumsiyeh, 23.10.23
Dear fellow Palestinians
[…] We can’t imagine the terror faced by all 2.4 million of you. […] We are all so ashamed and feel we let you down. We worked hard to get the world community to listen. Some of us have been doing it for decades (even trying to break your siege with solidarity ships which got attacked) but we must be honest with ourselves […] WE ALL FAILED. We failed even after we saw three other wars waged on you, the people of Gaza, each more horrific than those before. We failed as we saw your economy destroyed by 17 years of a cruel siege, which now evolved to blockade for thirst and starvation. We failed when we did not act against the fascist government of Israel strong enough at the time it was elected. The collusion of so many who shook hands and normalized your tormenters will haunt them forever. The Western governments who were complicit in killing you delegitimized themselves.
[…] History of humans give us many examples of holocausts: Australia’s aborigines, native Americans, Congolese (by Belgium), Armenians, Jews, Roma people, Rwanda, and many others. While each situation is different, yours is the first to be so well documented with videos and things some of us never heard of a few years ago (Instagram, Telegram, Tik-Toks). Some of us kept hoping that in the 21st century, the Zionist lobby in Western Governments can be challenged in time to avert this. We were lulled to think that a majority of people in those countries are decent people who do not approve of colonization and brutal occupation. In our wildest nightmares, we did not imagine such control of mainstream media and western governments (an Orwellian world). […]
I wish I could assure you that that we shall overcome and that we will stop this latest madness before you are also martyred or injured like your family and friends. Many of us are wondering if our faith in humanity is misplaced. Some reflect if armed resistance is the only way. Many friends in Gaza tell me at least the resistance stood up for us when no one else did or “we prefer a quick death over a slow death.” We also hear from some of you questions we have no answer to. Why is this happening to our children and what can we do to protect our families (let alone feed them)? When will this hellish life end? […]. Some of you submit to the will of God and find solace in your faith. I wish sometimes I had a fraction of your faith.
We know that many families were wiped out completely. We also know that EVERY remaining family in Gaza had its martyrs (575 massacres involving families). There are also the injured and maimed in the thousands (nearly half children). We know how traumatized (and hungry and thirsty) you, the survivors are. Yet, knowledge seems so small and impertinent. We obviously can’t imagine your feelings as you try desperately to live through this man-made hell! Maybe that is not a good analogy. Hell is believed to be a place where bad people end up. Your only fault is that you were born in this “Holy Land”, ethnically cleansed from your communities, and squeezed into a reservation/ghetto/ concentration camp called “Gaza strip” because some idiots thought it is a good idea to transform a prosperous multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual society to a monolithic “Jewish state” (a land for Jews and by Jews). […]
Your children are writing their names on their arms so that they can be identified after they are killed. How can our minds even comprehend this let alone be able to say something about this. We see your stories on social media in video. Will we in the future have museums commemorating you and your suffering? Is anyone even compiling your names and records of lives and deaths in Gaza? We will need these documents so that if humanity recovers (a big IF) from this genocide we have the documents (individual stories, age, circumstance of each massacre, the dreams and aspiration of those murdered). Regardless of what happens from now on, such a record would be critical to immortalize all who have perished in this newest of human history of holocausts and genocides. But many of us become numb seeing these videos…[…]
We know we failed you, we know you are seeing only the dust and darkness and the smell of death (1500 still under the rubble). We thought we can help you and we try. Yet, your heroism and dignity as you die in your hundreds every day and the living risk their lives and with their bare hands extract the dead and the living. I will never forget the medic produce the most haunting prayer lullaby to a girl who lost her entire family. You teach us humanity which so many millions have forgotten. Please teach us the living dead more. I would gladly exchange what is left of my life to let one child in Gaza live a decent life. Please continue to teach us about life and death. Will you teach us about the imminent death of “international law”, death of decency in many, or death of humanity? But maybe you can also teach us about life, how miraculously you always rise from the ashes, how you will transcend this horror. You and I are after all descendants of Canaanites who gave the world the alphabet and agriculture who fought and triumphed over many invaders (Persians, Crusaders etc.) and now you will triumph over these newest invaders.
Yesterday I wrote I am partly optimistic but perhaps I agree with Gramsci who said: “You must realize that I am far from feeling beaten…it seems to me that… a man ought to be deeply convinced that the source of his own moral force is in himself — his very energy and will, the iron coherence of ends and means — that he never falls into those vulgar, banal moods, pessimism and optimism. My own state of mind synthesizes these two feelings and transcends them: my mind is pessimistic, but my will is optimistic. Whatever the situation, I imagine the worst that could happen in order to summon up all my reserves and will power to overcome every obstacle.” But surely Gramsci cannot and I cannot even begin to understand what a dehumanized victim feels against a most powerful juggernaut of war machine grinding homes and flesh and driven by ego and greed. Those who faced it in the past left us lessons which I hope we can learn. All our words and our actions are small compared to the volumes spoken by the silent lifeless body of a child. When my turn comes, and it is coming to the 3 million living in the West Bank, at least I would have said my piece to you people of Gaza: please give us of your wisdom and courage in these dark days, forgive us as we failed you, may we also forgive ourselves, and may God have mercy on all our souls.
Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh – recipient of the 2020 Paul K. Feyerabend Award – regularly shares a wealth of information on subjects poorly covered by the normal media. His list is highly recommended, and you can subscribe to it for free here: http://lists.qumsiyeh.org/