Life in Palestine moves along with its ups and downs, like the tides of the sea. Some days we feel depressed, some days more optimistic. Some of us even feel like manic depressives for the fact that we go through these cycles. The triggers are varied.
Followed by a poem written about Gaza ….
ups and downs
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Life in Palestine moves along with its ups and downs, like the tides of the sea. Some days we feel depressed, some days more optimistic. Some of us even feel like manic depressives for the fact that we go through these cycles. The triggers are varied. We get depressed when we heard of the murders of 84 people in Nice by a deranged lunatic. We get uplifted when we hear of how victims’ families, friends, and concerned citizens (of all religions and backgrounds) came together in solidarity. We get depressed for the bombings in Baghdad that killed over 250 innocent civilians (again by deranged lunatics) or of the innocents in Yemen and Syria. We get uplifted watching good citizens rush to help the injured and then take to the streets to demand an end to end the mayhem created by the US, Saudi, and Israeli governments (the real axis of evil here).
We get depressed to hear from friends in Gaza of the continuing hardships and almost impossible life they live under Israeli siege. That siege does not seem to end as the Turkish government “normalized” its relationship with Israel (i.e. went back to being a partner in crime). We get uplifted by the indomitable spirit of resistance of the young people who don’t give up. We hear Bernie Sanders abandon his principles and support Hillary Clinton for President (she is a Zionist war monger and will not be much better than the lunatic Donald Trump). We get uplifted to see many citizens including many of the disgruntled supporters of Sanders move towards voting for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The Green Party is the only political party in the US which remains consistently anti-war, anti-exploitation, and for peace and justice around the world (including in Palestine with their support of the right of return). But even within the democratic and republican parties voices of reason are raised occasionally against special interests (including of the powerful Israel lobby that has hijacked US foreign policy).
We get depressed when I heard the right wing Israeli government approved a bill that targets human rights activists and appointed a racist to be chief rabbi of the Israeli army. But then we get uplifted seeing more young people refusing to serve/be conscripted in that immoral army. All of us discover that a person we trusted and helped went on to try to hurt us. But many of us can recall unexpected kindness from strangers. All this can be confusing! Some days I am personally at the brink of despair due to the difficulties we face in trying to build a museum and a botanical garden under a very difficult situation and without support, to recruit volunteers, and to find donors. Working 15-17 hours a day, seven days a week to accomplish what in any other civilized country could be accomplished in half the time can be frustrating. But on these same days or in days before them or after them we feel elated by what is happening. A wave of positive energy seems to descend out of nowhere on some days. Just this week we had groups of visitors and volunteers daily and we had one day in which some 25 students came during their summer camp for an environmental day at the museum. Here they learned some new skills and ideas as they volunteered to work in our botanical garden. One day I learned that one grant was rejected and the next day I learned that one of our research papers was accepted and I learned of two other grant possibilities.
This back and forth continues and it could be just as natural as the cycle of the ocean tides or the rotation of the planets. Maybe expecting life to be good is like expecting the sun up 24 hours! So am are we optimists or pessimists or pessoptimist or realist? Tragedies around us continue. We could choose to isolate ourselves from them for example by going to live in a country with less troubles but in an increasingly globalized world that might be difficult. Even if possible, that life leads to a selfish disconnect from others and a life of pain and guilty conscience. The alternative is what the Buddhists call “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world.” The trick to being content is not to fight the rising tide nor to push against the falling tide but to learn to roll with that tide while also doing your best to stay true to yourself.
‘Cousin, do not come;’ a poem by Lillian Pollak-From the Granny Peace Brigade
COUSIN–DO NOT COME
In response to a letter from my cousin in New York, he tells me he is planning a trip to Gaza. Salma, a teenage girl replies–
“Cousin, do not come.”
Do you wonder? Listen…….listen. Boom. BOOM!
The roll of thunder…
We are afraid! We are afraid all the time….not knowing when or where another Israeli drone will follow and target us with its lethal load. There is no safe place! More will die. We know not when. We are crying… What is happening to us! There is no future. All our friends are silent. GONE!
Friends and strangers walk in filthy streets, garbage and dirty water. Children play on mounds of bombed out homes….piles of rubble. The golden seaside a place of memories of children murdered while at play.
What life is there if you should come? Can you learn to be hungry?
…Will you fall asleep from weariness…staying awake with open eyes? Can you remember how to scream…Can you learn how to drown the sound of the clanging and the hammering of desperate men building doomed tunnels? We live in prison. Gaza is our prison. Our borders are blockaded. Gaza is our home; we love our home….Not this prison. We want to live! If we remain silent…We die!
A little boy sleeps holding my hand….he will not let me go….I cry,
but then I see he is dead.
A young man, happy to return home, sees the despair, and sets himself on fire beside the encrusted mattress of a moaning woman.
I am glad cousin that you are not here. You would see the suffering of the people in these days of the Gaza Siege. There is no future for us! There is no safe place where we can go. Life is centered about those who are killed for just living here. There is horror every moment. We are so lonely. Children are lonely! Children without parents….Homes destroyed. Often no lights…no electricity…darkness, cold, damp cracked walls dripping filthy water…
A cat walks the aisles of the damaged hospital, while water trucks playing tinkling tunes sell fresh water. Who destroys life in GAZA? Who is guilty? Who must answer? ISRAEL
Cousin do not come. By Lillian Pollak March 29, 2016