Thursday, March 17, 2011

When I was a Zionist, and the Murders of Palestinian and Israeli Children ...

 "Star of David"
Digital Art - Copyright 2011
S. E. Jihad Levine
All Rights Reserved

by Sharon Elayne Levine
Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Israel, oh my blessed Israel!

When will You find
Everlasting peace?

Your borders are torn

With war and
Bleeding discontent,

Your children are falling
Day by day
For Your life.

May G-d let You
Find Peace soon,

For the sake of Your children,

And for all of the world!

I remember writing this poem in 1974, sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table looking out the window onto her sunny garden she had just planted.  I was a Zionist then, and I remember feeling very anxious and sad.  It's not the greatest poem in the world, but as was and is my habit, I write poetry when I am upset.  It's practically the only time I do write poetry.

What was happening in that part of the world in 1974 that had upset me?

Well, on May 31, 1974, Israel and Syria signed an agreement on disengagement following the Yom Kippur War in October of 1973.  Weeks before that on May 15th, the Ma'alot massacre occurred.  Palestinians crossed the Israeli border from Lebanon and attacked a van killing two Israeli Arab women.  Then they entered an apartment building in the town of Ma'alot and killed a couple and their four year old son.  Then a local school was taken over and 105 students and 10 teachers were taken hostage.  The Palestinians demanded the release of 23 Palestinians from Israeli prisons under the threat of killing the hostages.  When the elite Israeli Golani Brigade unit stormed the building on the second day of the standoff, the hostage-takers detonated their grenades and shot the children.  105 children.  25 hostages were killed, including 22 children, and 68 more were wounded. 

The month before, on April 11th, the Kiryat Shmona massacre occurred.  Palestinians crossed the Israeli border from Lebanon, entered an apartment building in the town of Kiryat Shmona and killed all 18 residents there, half of whom were children.  (Above history from Wikipedia)

The relentless attacks on Israeli citizens and the slaughter of so many children was a shocking horror to Jewish people, especially Jewish people in America.  Jewish people like me.

I was a young Jewish woman in my mid-20s in 1974.  Like many Jews, I had no clue who the Palestinian people were and what they wanted from us.  No one taught us about them in the synagogues and temples of America, and many of us didn't accept responsibility for learning the whole history of how "our country," Israel, came to be born.  We were just glad that we had a home for our people.  World War II and the Holocaust were still vivid in the minds of many Jews in 1974.  G-d had returned us to our land.  That's all most of us knew. That's all most of us cared about.

One of my favorite books in 1974 was Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary, the story of a young girl who gave her life to help Jews leave Europe and settle in Israel.  Of course, I read all the stories of Zionist heroes:  Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, David Alazar ...  And oh, how jealous I was of the Israelis referred to as sabras, those born on our country's soil.  And the women!  I wanted to fly planes like Hannah Senesh.  I wanted to grow up and be the president of a country like Golda Meir.  I wanted to be a soldier like my sisters in the Israeli military. I wanted to live on a kibbutz.  I was trying to learn Hebrew.

I was a Zionist!

And since 1998, I am a Muslim.

With a heart divided between two peoples, it saddened me deeply to hear of the murder of five members of the Fogel family last Friday evening who were butchered in their sleep in the Jewish settlement of Itamar on the West Bank.  Although many are blaming the murders on Palestinians, the truth is that the Israelis are still investigating and no one knows who did this yet.

I know: these settlements are illegal. 

I know: many many Palestinian children have been murdered by the Israelis.

True.  But that's not why I'm writing about it today. 

I'm writing to demand that the violence stop.  Is anyone listening?!

How many Israeli and Palestinian children have to die before both sides will sit together like the adults they are and come up with a peace plan?  How much blood has to be shed before the international community will give more than lip service to trying to help?  How many children will die before the UN enforces its resolutions? 

Let's face it:  Israel probably isn't going anywhere.  But I would like to see a peace plan and enforcement of the UN resolutions that call for Israel to return the borders to the 1967 lines.  I would like to see Israeli honor the agreements they signed.  The ones Anwar Sadat died for.  The ones Yitzhak Rabin died for.

But that's going to take a lot of work.  And both sides have to do it.  What's the alternative?  Ongoing violence and oppression?

My poem, written in 1974, and the question it asks is still relevant today in 2011.  If I would have known better in 1974, I would have directed the question to both the Palestinians AND the Israelis.  I would have asked for peace for all the children.

Sadly, there is still no answer.  Yet ...


American Muslima Writer said...

Yes, I agree there needs to exist a peace agreement on both sides and I dop think both sides want this as well but no one seems to be the bigger man here and wanna step down enough to get it done. The atrocities both sides commit against the other really is horrendous. Brutal War Crimes that get no accounting from the world.

UN and their "CONDEMNATIONS" are an absolute joke. Crimes are happening all over the world and they just keep condeming and sanctioning but what happens to protect the innocent people? NOTHING!!!!! It makes me sick.

I was there in Lebanon when hundreds of civilians died and I was close to being one of them from an Isreali missle. THings like that don't leave you. They affect your future thinking if you dont learn to control it.

Brava for blogging about this important topic while the world seems to be focusing on other countries in peril Isreala nd Palistine are still there at war.

When oh when will it end?

Tauqeer said...

I sincerely hope things turn to peace rather than more violence. Not that I see that coming any sooner, yet hope and dua is still there.

luckyfatima said...

"I would like to see a peace plan and enforcement of the UN resolutions that call for Israel to return the borders to the 1967 lines. I would like to see Israeli honor the agreements they signed. The ones Anwar Sadat died for. The ones Yitzhak Rabin died for."

I feel the same way as you. WHY is this so hard to achieve? It is just such an unnecessary tragedy.

Like you, I was never exposed information about Palestine or Palestinians. Israel was just a historical and modern homeland for all Jews, The Land of Milk and Honey. (Except for the ones with non-Jewish mothers ;) ) and it was as they say, a land without a people for a people without a land. What a miseducation. I don't think I really had a good sense of what the real situation was until after I left the US and was away from the media's propaganda. I really thought that Arabs were just rabid anti-Jewish people who just didn't want Jews in the neighborhood. Why couldn't those territorial Arabs just share? I had no idea about the Nakba. Having learned the history, and being involved in anti-racism issues, I see the situation as one of an extension of Euro-white colonialism and apartheid, and Jewish privilege and apartheid.

I, too am so sickened and saddened by the news of the Fogel family murders. It is an atrocity. (though I had the same thoughts as you, that the investigation seems to have pointed in one direction very precociously) It's just an endless cycle of death and destruction. How very sad.

Anonymous said...

A brave and thoughtful post :)

I think the time is coming, dear Sister, as evidenced by the surge for democracy across the Arab world.

Inshallah, it will be soon!

Ya Haqq!