Posted by: Madman in the Marketplace | January 6, 2009

Bury More Hearts

“I have decided not leave our house even if I die. All the people have decided this, we won’t resettle again.” – SMS Message from Gaza Jan 3

Photograph: Yasser Saymeh/AFP/Getty Images

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream … the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead. Today I send a voice for people in despair. Hear me, not for myself, but for the People. O, make my people live. – Black Elk

Perhaps it is a comparison I make too glibly. It is dangerous to play the dueling holocaust card. Look what the Israelis do with it, the great crimes they commit in the name of preventing their own demise, a threat they feel no matter how many bombs they drop, no matter how many nukes they stockpile, no matter how many civilians they slaughter.

For years I thought as many Americans have been taught to think, that the battles in Palestine were a case of Hatfields and McCoys, two peoples too close to one another to see themselves for the savages they were, BOTH of them.

Perhaps it was video of bulldozers destroying homes and protesters. Perhaps it was the stories I eventually read about Sabra and Shatila, or the more fleshed-out narratives of al Nakba that I came across over the years. I don’t remember what it was that tipped my view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but it became increasingly clear that this had more in common with the US expansion west than some feud between clans, and that I was witnessing Wounded Knee, Sand Creek and the Trail of Tears as they were happening. Perhaps the scale of the destruction isn’t the same … the American West was built on the outright obliteration of entire cultures … but the imbalance of power, the racism, the starvation and blaming the victim were all-too-much the same.

Some angry braves launch attacks, largely ineffectual, and their crimes are revisited on women, children and old men. After all, the generals and politicians say, the “savages” are hiding amongst the rest. The same old excuse for atrocity.

So drive them to hide in schools, then shell them. Warn them with leaflets and calls to leave their homes, then make it impossible to travel safely. Before Sand Creek, Black Kettle flew an American Flag over the encampment, having been promised that the flag would protect them from attack. How can you not see a parallel in tactics? Like us, there hasn’t been a treaty or agreement that the Israelis haven’t eagerly broken, blaming the weaker people for their perfidy. Instead of gold to entice settlements in contravention of solemn promises, in Israel it is water and fertile land. I believe areas being struck by Hamas rockets was occupied not that long ago by Palestinians, before it was slowly whittled away by Israeli expansionism.

History, they say, repeats. I think it is more accurate to say that the powerful and the racist repeat what they find works, and what works better than grinding a weaker people who have what you want under your violent heel? Steal their land, steal their culture, steal their fathers and their sons, steal their hopes, dreams and safe moments. Steal from them any hope for a future, steal from them their history and their voices. Crush them if they resist, crush them again when they don’t. Leave them no safe haven, give them no quarter, provide them no truthful words.

In the end Israelis, you’ll bury the Palestinians’ hearts along with their loved ones, then wonder why your spoils reek of rot and your mouth feels dry with cremated ashes. Try not to notice as your neighbors and your grandchildren look upon you with horror and disgust. Know that it is too late to bury your own heart, because you’ve long since drowned it in your hatred and violence. Your crimes will hang over you as America’s crimes hang over it, a cancer that will slowly kill you.



  1. See also:

    Chris Floyd – Gazing at Gaza’s Destruction: Israelis Sip Pepsi, US Progressives See ‘Silver Lining’

    Arthur Silber – The Slaughter of the Diseased Animals

    Dennis Perrin – Extremes

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