Sunday, April 26, 2009

The War on Gaza: In the Company of Stories and Images

By Tania Tamari Nasir
December 27, 2008-February 17, 2009

It is the 27th of December 2008 and the dreaded war on Gaza has just begun. Horrified, we are glued to the TV watching. I have to admit that I have always felt something a bit immoral in the act, in sitting comfortably in one's room eavesdropping, peeping, an uninvited spectator on what is screened in front of one. How much more so now when I am exposed to the intimate, almost private scenes of life and death, to pain and suffering, spread out for all to see. How much more so, now, when your own flesh and blood are in the battlefield? With oscillating emotions I watch; I cannot help it. It is the least I can do, regardless of the acute feeling of almost betrayal that permeates my being. I am here, in the West Bank, they are there, in Gaza. We should be together. We are Palestinians. We share the same fate. The unfairness is shattering, the reality cruel. In a state akin to a survivor guilt syndrome I decide to write, to find meaning, seeking solace, seeking forgiveness from Gaza, from myself, from all who are there, dying for Palestine.

* * * *

The early morning ritual of making coffee brings some sanity to my heart. I stir the sweet heavy coffee in the pot and my thoughts wander to a woman in Gaza. Is she making coffee too? I desperately want to believe that there is still a semblance of the ordinary in Gaza. That the normality of every day, is still possible. How dare I even think of that? Embarrassed, this morning's coffee tastes of pain.

* * * *

The War is raging. “Operation Cast Lead" they name it, product of a diabolic mind, a demented psychopath that has to sugarcoat his crime with civilized words, a selling ploy, for infected merchandise. Does a camouflage make the murder any less murderous, the terror any less terrorizing, the immoral act a rightful one?

* * * *

I live in the company of images. I sit spellbound in front of the TV screen: live from the skies of the Gaza Strip unravels what could have been the grand extravaganza of an Olympic Games opening celebrations, the fireworks for the New Year, the Cirque du Soleil in a brand-new show choreographed in the skies or a sound-and-light spectacle like never before. But it is none of these things at all; it is the living inferno of the war on Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. It is the bombs, the missiles, from land, air, and sea, pouring down their wrath on everything: on men, women, children, on orange groves, on olive and palm orchards, on animals, birds, and fish. The highlight, the crème de la crème of this Neronic feast, is the display of the white phosphorus bomb explosions; images that will probably haunt me forever, not only because of the horrors embedded in them but because of how I find myself victimized by their bewitching formations. Daringly I succumb to the artistic streak in me and I see, mangled with the ugliness of the lethal weapon, dazzling images that shamelessly rise from its monstrosity: tumbling from the belly of a war plane there came a giant dandelion, a sea-anemone, an octopus, all ablaze, like wedding tiaras, exploding into cascading petals and tentacles of effervescent gossamer ribbon, bridal veils that would soon enshroud the landscape below, annihilating everything in its wake. I shudder at the thought and yearn to pluck out the insane images from my mind, but they ferociously linger, kneaded with images of burnt flesh, gaping smoldering wounds still fuming where the shrapnels of white phosphorus continue digging, tortuously reaching down, to the bone, to the marrow, to the essence. Yes, they want to destroy the essence.