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From Lama in Gaza Again
Lama Hourani, Palestine
August 1, 2006
Since my birth I have witnessed such terrible things that I thought I had no more tears to cry.
I am a Palestinian refugee and was born in Syria in 1965. So many terrible events have taken place since my birth.
The 1967 war. Although I was only two, the reaction of my parents formed something in my own personality.
Black September 1970 in Jordan. I was five years old but still remember my parents’ worried faces.
October 1973. The war between Syria, Egypt and Israel. I remember to this day almost all of the details of the war, the Israeli air raids, my school, which we used as a bomb shelter despite the fact that it was full of windows. The happiness in the reactions of some of the grown-ups to the liberation of some areas in Syria and Egypt and my fear of the continuous air bombing.
The Civil War in Lebanon, from the middle of the 1970s, with everything connected with it.
The invasion by Israel of southern Lebanon in 1978.
Living in Beirut in 1980 and 1981, with the daily stress of the civil war and the Israeli attacks and flights which broke through the sound barrier at least three times a day.
The 1981 air raid against Al Fakhani in Beirut and the many car bombs that year.
1982. The horrible Israeli War against Lebanon and the siege of Beirut. I was living under the siege, a volunteer in the civil defense forces. I remember everything I witnessed, from the air raids to cannon bombs to bombs from the sea to the attacks by Apaches on the ambulances in which I used to go to take care of the wounded. The people who had been killed, injured people under the rubble with no means to rescue them, the refugees, the lack of food, water, electricity, fuel and medical supplies, etc.
During the first Intifada I was outside Palestine. I was demonstrating in the streets of Europe to ask for protection for the Palestinians and implementation of the United Nations resolutions to end the occupation and free Palestine.
The second Intifada, which I experienced in Palestine. Every conceivable weapon was used by the Israelis against the civilian Palestinian population.
The military invasion by Israel in the West Bank in 2002. My sister and her family were under siege with my father. She had come to Ramallah only a few days before the invasion began and my father had come to stay there for some weeks with her.
The constant war crimes which have been committed by the Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank since 1994, when I went to Palestine.
I thought I had witnessed everything and that nothing could shock me or make me cry because I had already seen the worst.
That is, until this morning, when we were preparing for a sit in in front of the UNSCO building in Gaza City in solidarity with the Lebanese people. We saw live coverage of the massacre in Qana. Actually, this was the second massacre deliberately committed by Israel against innocent civilians, mainly children, women and elderly people. (April 1996 was the first when Shimon Peres was Prime Minister. At that time 100 Lebanese refugees were killed by an Israeli air strike on the UNIFIL building.)
I feel antipathy and anger, not only towards Israel but also towards the international community. We Palestinians have been witnessing Israel’s crimes against humanity since its foundation in 1948. We believe in international legitimacy, international law, United Nation’s resolutions. Nevertheless, we are the victims of a terrorist State which does nothing but attack innocent civilians continuously and systematically in the name of self-defense.
Does self defense play a role when babies, children and people with special needs are being killed daily in both Lebanon and the Palestinian Occupied Territories?
Why are the United Nations, the European Union silent? These are supposed to be the protectors of democracy and human rights. I know why the Israeli and U. S. Governments and the majority of the Israelis are silent. They are the aggressors. They have never looked at us or at our children as human beings. But what about the others, who claim to be civilized and want to teach us to be democratic, "accepting of the other," and civilized.
If this is your civilization and your democracy, I want no part of it, nor does my people want to be “democratic and civilized”. I prefer to be a “savage” rather than a democratic and civilized killer of children and babies.
I, the savage, care about innocent people, no matter what religion or nationality they have.
I, the savage, am more democratic than others in the world, who are watching what is happening and doing nothing. On the contrary, excuses and time are given by them to Israel to kill more innocent people and destroy an entire country.
It may sound egoistic but I believe I have the right to be so because I am the savage, who has lived all of the horrors I have mentioned, who did not collapse and did not lose her humanity. I still weep when I see a child, any child, crying because of the mistakes of its leaders, whether it is an Israeli, Palestinian, or Lebanese child.
But, believe me, these children are definitely not equal and I won’t accept that the suffering is made to sound as if it is. We are not the ones who are attacking, who are asking our children to write special gift messages on the bombs meant for the children of Lebanon.
I am the savage but still raise my four year old son by the principle of loving others and respecting their needs in spite of his fear of the rockets, F16s, and bombings that he is subjected to daily. In spite of the fact that I am not certain he will be alive to celebrate his fourth birthday on 21 August.
Yes, I am proud to be a Palestinian mother, who can feel the suffering of her people and that of others.
I still believe in humanity and in a future for my child, my husband, my people, myself, and the other peoples around me, including our “civilized” neighbours, the Israelis.
Yes, I have discovered that I still have tears and that I still have the power to cry and scream. Stop the madness of Israel and the United States! They are bringing this region to its destruction.
Lama Hourani is coordinator of the Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development. This diary was written for the e-list of the international network, Women in Black, and posted July 30, 2006