Gaza : If the dead could speak

This is something I wrote for the people in Gaza. Take Heart my brothers and Sisters – Your Lord shall never forsake you.

Al Jazeera ReportsThe death toll has crossed 100 people in Gaza with over 800 injured. During this period, more than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three people and injuring dozens.

“Gaza is about 25 miles long and 5 miles wide. Its population is 1.6 million people, and nearly half of those are children. Their food, water, and energy supply are all controlled by Israel. This isn’t a war. This is shooting fish in a barrel.” – Somewhere on FB

If the dead could speak

If the dead could speak what would they say

What are the stories of those passed away

Who would want to come back and

Who would want to stay.

 

War on terror, terrorists or the Pillar of defence

Out to get those who intimidate them

The mighty aren’t really that mighty if they

Fear the sling shots of those whose rights they took away

 

A single soul is equal to all of humanity

So don’t take a life away but those who build

empires  now don’t care about

how many lives have been wiped away

 

Fathers, mothers and even children aren’t safe

when “targeted strikes” kill everyone in its wake

How blind are those who believe the lies that says

killing pregnant women in self defense is okay 

 

Let every oppressor know there is a witness over him

Let them know His names –  the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith,

the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior.

The One who has promised darkness to the oppressor on a Mighty Day

 

He expelled from fortresses those who thought

They would never go away and those stronger in strength

He caused winds to blow them away

yet His Mercy Encompasses even the oppressors who pray

 

Don’t think those who die in His way are forgotten

For they Rejoice in the bounty of their Lord and no fear is upon them

Yet our hand cringes at action, the mouth dries at speech

Maybe then it is we who are dead and not they.

 

If the dead could speak what would they say

What are the stories of those passed away

Who would want to come back and

Who would want to stay.

– – –

Below are 5 out of 10 facts about Gaza posted in this Huffpost article

1) “PRISON CAMP”

David Cameron once referred to Gaza as a “prison camp” and “some sort of open-air prison”. 1.7million Palestinians are crammed into just 140 square miles; Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth.

Israel, despite withdrawing its troops and settlers from the Strip in 2005, continues to control its airspace, territorial waters and border crossings (with the exception, of course, of Gaza’s land border with Egypt).

2) (UN)FAIR FIGHT

Remember: according to the Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem, in the last major conflict between Israel and Hamas – ‘Operation Cast Lead’ which kicked off in December 2008 – 762 Palestinian civilians were killed, including more than 300 children, compared to three (yes, three!) Israeli civilians.

We seem to be seeing a similar imbalance in bloodshed this time round: “More Palestinians were killed in Gaza [on Wednesday] than Israelis have been killed by projectile fire from Gaza in the past three years,” wrote Palestinian-American activist Yousef Munayyer on the Daily Beast website.

3) “COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT”

Why do they hate us, ask ordinary Israelis? Well, Gaza has been under siege since January 2006, after its residents dared to elect a Hamas goverment in free and fair elections. The subsequent economic blockade imposed upon the Strip by the Israeli government at one stage prevented the residents of Gaza from importing, among other things, coriander, ginger, nutmeg and, even, newspapers.

Most international lawyers, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), consider the blockade to be illegal under international humanitarian law; in 2009, a UN panel, led by distinguished South African judge and self-confessed Zionist Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of imposing “a blockade which amounted to collective punishment”.

4) “ON A DIET”

In 2006, Dov Weissglass, the then chief of staff to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon summed up his government’s approach to Gaza and its residents when he confessed: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

A rhetorical flourish? Not quite: in 2008, Israeli defence officials in charge of restricting food and supplies from entering Gaza went so far “as to calculate how many calories would be needed to avert a humanitarian disaster in the impoverished Palestinian territory, according to a… declassified military document.”

5) STUNTED GROWTH

Some 10% of children under five in the Gaza Strip have had their growth stunted due to prolonged exposure to malnutrition. “Stunting (chronic malnutrition) is not improving and may be deteriorating,” concluded the World Health Organisation in May of this year.

Richard Falk has a more in depth look at the situation including policy failures and media hypocrisy here 

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Of Jasmines and the Internet

I wrote this article a long time ago, when  I was in India and the so called Arab Spring had just begun. Tunisia had already removed their leaders and Hosni Mubarak was to be soon deposed. I was thinking about Syria and putting down my thoughts about it when I remembered this. In the face of the current Syrian situation this article almost looks naive. Khair. Read through to remember how “easy” the revolutions before Syria were. More on Syria later

*****

When, Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia, set himself on fire a couple of weeks back, out of sheer desperation that poverty brings with it, little did he know he was going to stoke flames of dissent long buried in the hearts of the citizens of the Middle East. These flames now raging like wildfires all over the Middle East from Yemen to Egypt have their leaders running for cover. Fanned by Internet Media ( Facebook, Twitter etc.) and to some extent the reports of Al Jazeera News Channel, Bouazizi’s self immolaion has set in motion a possible domino effect of governmental change across the Middle East. Tunisia’s own president Mr. Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali has long since resigned and is now under self imposed exile in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hosni Mubarak’s family has already fled to London fearing for the safety of their lives.

JasmineThough uprisings against self-styled dictators in the Middle East arent uncommon given the massive corruption, rot and decay that exist in government institutions, the protests this time around have had a sense of purpose to it. Dubbed the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ to signify a revolution occurring across societies, Tunisians are not ready to step down until there is a popular government in place while Egyptians today hope to garner the support of a million people as they march to ouster Mr. Mubarak. While I scan the updates coming from Egypt constantly, I can’t help but laud the people of Egypt in their efforts. It would be insolent on my part to claim that affairs of Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations had been on my radar prior to these uprising. Yet, the popular nature of these protests is definitely noteworthy. Regular people who live regular lives have stepped out on to the streets to voice their opinion against the oppression that has left them crushed. The Egyptian army sent in to quell the crowds has declared hints of support towards the ‘Million Strong March’. Reports by Robert Fisk at The Independent currently in Egypt talk of the camaraderie and brotherhood apparent among the protestors and the law enforcement agents.

Such images are encouraging to say the least and though already democratized as a nation it is important for us as Indians to sit up and take notice of the developments taking place in the Middle East. True we elect our representatives, but governance in India today is a joke. How different is Hosni Mubarak from those in power today? Aren’t we witness to some of the biggest scams in modern Indian history? While we recline comfortably in our couches hardly having too wait for a live stream of the IPL on our 3G enabled cell phones, how many thousands literally die of hunger in India? Activists of human rights are simply convicted for secession and terrorism, while real terrorists and criminals languish in jail cells or government chairs afforded the best in their class of luxury! I reiterate our governance is a joke and we need to take a stand.

As I already mentioned the people in the protests in Egypt and related countries are everyday people with everyday stories like yours and mine. Another thing I’d like to mention is that we do not need to get onto the streets to create change. It took our freedom fighters 90 years (from the Revolt of 1857) to garner independence for us Indians. It hardly took 3 weeks (from the self-immolation of Bouazizi) to bring the matter to a head in Egypt. The difference this time being the pervasive nature of social networking and print/TV media. Boon or bane, one can hardly deny the role that Facebook et al. had to play in precipitating the events in the Middle East. While we watch the social networking revolution blitz us daily with new offerings it is imperative for us to indulge in a thought revolution. Muslims are the original disciples of SatyaGraha, learning it from their Prophets and in particular Mohammed (PBUH) while Indians were taught the ways of struggle by Gandhi himself. Through a revolution stemming not from violence but from moral rectitude and adherence to ethical standards there is hope for positive change again. A revolution that can be taken to the doorstep of almost any person above the age of 15 and having access to the internet without having to set a foot on the ground. A revolution which any person who follows the affairs of the world around will “Like”.

It is up to us to take notice of the issues that plague us. It is up to us to make the right noises about these issues. It is also up to us that the noises we make are heard by so many people that it can truly make a difference. The good news is we have a tool we can easily use. The bad news is we don’t “Share”.

PS : – While it is very easy for us to be happy with developments in Egypt, let us not forget the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that pervade the streets. Shops and homes are being looted by anti social elements and food supply is becoming scarce. People who lose possessions in this period lose them for good. I pray for a speedy end to these occurences that is causing so much discord and I also pray for the lasting peace for the people of Egypt. Amen.