Swans Commentary » swans.com January 12, 2009  



Stolen Lives


by Marie Rennard





(Swans - January 12, 2009)   Everybody, everywhere, is talking about Israel and the Palestinians. No need to be aware of history or politics these days to feel allowed to claim oneself pro or against. No need to have studied sciences politiques or whatever. Hearts are speaking loudly in cafés.

On radios, TVs, newspapers, the debate is the same. Is the behaviour of the Israeli government a legitimate one?

According to Mirek Topolanek, president of the European Union, the current Israeli policy should be considered more defensive than offensive. To what I'll personally answer, et mon cul, c'est du poulet? * -- and don't tell me that it lacks elegance. I know what inelegance is.

Bombing the Palestinian civilians, already starved to death and lacking the most elementary liberties and care -- medical or educational among others, hostages in their own land, both of their great defenders of Hamas and of a rich opponent who merely refuses to give back unduly occupied territories, they've been for so many decades deprived of the most elementary hopes, so far from the legendary pursuit of happiness...

What's the use of talking, or writing, or just trying to think about it?

What's the use of analysing the past to justify the present?

The present of Palestinians is what their whole life has always been. Threat, and war. The present of Israelis, though not free of threat, has absolutely nothing to do with hopelessness.

Palestinians are abandoned even by Arab countries. Israel has supporters all over the world, and claims this is a fight against terrorism. So who could oppose? Terrorists are everywhere. And inexplicably abound in occupied countries.

How would you react, if your kids were bombed by terrorists? those who defend the established order keep asking. I would not swear, but I might terrorize the terrorists myself. The same as desperate people have always done.

Famous French reporter and Albert Londres prize-winner Sorj Chalandon, who covered the conflicts of Ireland for the newspaper Libération in the 1970s, recently said he has always felt closer to those who throw stones than to the governments who send soldiers. Whoever the weaker is, he deserves help. This is all the more true since humans, everywhere, act the same. Victims when they're dominated, they'll become happy executioners whenever they feel powerful.

That's what happened in France after the revolution -- a good aristocrat is a dead one; in America during the conquest of western territories -- a good Indian is a dead one; in Germany during WWII -- a good Jew is a dead one; in Algeria -- a good wog's a dead one; in Japan, China, anywhere you watch the story is the same. Nowadays, worldwide, a good terrorist is a dead one. And anyone who belongs to the family of a terrorist, to his nation, religion, or skin colour should be killed before he or she becomes an active terrorist too.

Human, poor human, who keeps carrying his corpses on his back! When will we get rid of past suffering as a justification? When will we start looking forward for common happiness and abandon mighty fears? When will we stop confusing richness and respectability?

Probably not early enough to save those kids of Palestine, who will become terrorists in their time because they won't have been given any opportunity to aim at what is so natural for us: the fear of faraway terrorists for half an hour a day, when watching news on TV.

Of course, this is easy purpose, or weak advice. That's probably due to the fact that I didn't learn politics, trade, or economics in universities, and keep thinking like any housewife does, with my heart more than with my brain, looking at the world from my kitchen window. And what I see from here is the collective responsibility in this slaughter, not only of the Israeli government but also of the whole nation that is supporting its action (although those have the excuse of fear), but also -- and those have no excuse -- of all the nations who limply condemn the attacks on civilians on the one hand and keep trading with Israel on the other. What I see from my kitchen window is history repeated, again and again, and the weak always the ones to suffer. This, I assume, will know no end, but after all, who truly cares?



*  ed. French idiosyncratic expression that means total disbelief in one's self-serving tale. It could be translated as, "and my arse is a chicken, right?" or, "and bears don't shit in the woods?" or again, "do you see 'stupid' written on my forehead?"  (back)


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Marie Rennard on Swans (with bio).



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art15/marier25.html
Published January 12, 2009