Thursday, July 24, 2014

Again, today, I was lucky. And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

I spent my morning on the computer. Although my extended unemployment would allow me to sleep until noon or stay awake all night, I try to keep to a fairly normal human schedule. I wake up, I listen to the news on the radio. My cat leads me to his food dish, so I open a can. I breakfast at my desk. I log into my computer, checking Facebook, and a few other sites.

I have been relishing the coverage of Alakhbar English, a secular left-wing site out of Beirut. Their coverage of the Israeli pogrom on Gaza is righteously outraged, and their posture untainted by the immorality of Saudi or Qatari paymasters. A few days ago they put up a page: "The victims of Gaza: A list of Palestinians killed in Israel's ongoing assault." It keeps a running tally of the casualties, printing their names, their ages, and the brutal circumstances of their murder. It's hard to read; overwhelming. The passing of each precious life coolly noted, each child, woman, man, each martyr to the cause of living their own lives documented one last time.

I shared the link on Facebook. I noticed the metadata that Facebook shows with the post was outdated, reading "Updated July 22 at 6:45 pm: The Gaza health ministry has confirmed the deaths of 627 Palestinians so far in the besieged..." and then it drops off. Yet when I shared the link this morning, July 24, the article itself read a total of 746 deaths. I paused to consider what I had done yesterday, while the electrons of metadata caught up with the typing of a careful webmaster. I had not died. I had not had my home bombed, with or without warning. I had not had my sister, my mother, my father, my children, my friends killed, or maimed. I was not sent screaming into the street in mortal panic. I was very very lucky in my apartment thousands of miles away from, no, I won't call it a war...thousands of miles away from that massacre. What cosmic accident plunked me down here, privileged only to bear distant witness?

This morning I took care of tasks in the warmth of a humid, overcast, but quiet Brooklyn day. I worked on a flyer for a brilliant Palestine solidarity action tomorrow night, the guerrilla transformation of a benefit for the IDF into a benefit for medical aid for Gaza. My cat begged for some of my lunch. I drank iced coffee, followed by some delicious sour cherry juice from Turkey. I'm looking at the clock noting the time I must leave the house to be at tonight's Gaza solidarity rally in downtown Manhattan.

I checked back on my Facebook share this afternoon. The metadata stayed unchanged. I clicked through to the link.

Five hours.

"Updated July 24 at 7:00 pm: The Gaza health ministry has confirmed the deaths of 784 Palestinians so far in the besieged strip since Israel began its relentless assault on July 8. Among those killed, at least 175 were aged 18 or younger."


Thirty-eight more precious lives taken, like that, in the moments it took me to avoid doing my laundry. I couldn't hear the screams, the cries, the crashing of bombs and bricks, I couldn't smell the smoke, the sulfur. I couldn't save any lives, stop any killing. I couldn't offer solace to anyone's unimaginable grief. I couldn't shut up the voices on the radio making grotesque rationalizations for their even more grotesque actions.

My rage seethes, leaving a hollow pit in my chest. I feel impotent, powerless.

This morning certain people I knew online spent time blaming the Palestinians for their own deaths, and in those hours more Palestinians — more people — were actually and literally killed by a calculating, cruel enemy.

Five hours. What did I do this morning? Again I was very lucky.

Everybody I know is okay today, going about their business.

Yet why are my eyes wet from tears?

Something awful is happening right this moment. Shut your eyes, turn away, it's still there, even if you can't see it.

It's time to do something.

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