When Hope Departs
On the impossibility of these last few days
Four days ago Israel resumed the bombardment of Gaza. Three days ago journalists and countless other civilians in Gaza started giving their last will and testament, saying they had lost faith in making it out alive. Two days ago I hit a wall. Monday, a resolution was introduced in Congress to equate anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Maybe the single best expression of why I ran up against a barrier, a block, a not so briefly insurmountable weight best encapsulated by this tweet from Rawiya Kameir: “young people in gaza are referring to themselves in the past tense.” Intellectually it’s hard to know what to do when you encounter such devastation, such hopelessness from people you’ve seen be so resilient for so long. Some of these young people who appear to have accepted the possibility of death are the very journalists so much of the world has been watching, has been looking to, has been holding their breath for as they await the next update, the next sign of life. These are people whose names I did not know two months ago. But now I look for word or video from Bisan, who is 25, from Plestia, who is 22, from Motaz, who is 24. These are some of the people dodging death to let us know what is happening in Gaza.
Aside from the emotional devastation wrought by seeing, day by day and bomb by bomb, the ethnic cleansing of an entire region, there is also the intellectual knowledge that the supposed leaders of our country are by and large morally bankrupt, and continue to greenlight these atrocities. The relentless resumption of the attack last week came right on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State assuring the world that Israel would now be more careful to not mass murder civilians. Israel proceeded to kill 700 people in 24 hours. The official line about where Gazans can flee to safety has completely collapsed. At first it was that the South is safe, even as the South was bombarded, but now Palestinians are being told to seek refuge in Mawasi. As Adam Johnson writes, “Mawasi is the place that Israel says is a ‘safe zone’ where all 2.3 million Gazans are supposed to go. It's roughly the size of LAX airport and, as of now, there is nothing there but desert. Image via Washington Post.”
That speck is Mawasi. And I think part of the wall I, and so many others I know, have hit, is seeing that Israel doesn’t even really need to pretend to have a coherent narrative now. They tell the U.S. and the world they’ll avoid the mass slaughter of civilians, then they kill civilians. Their leaders openly talk about ethnic cleansing, they do ethnic cleansing, and the U.S. leadership and much of the media still vociferously denies that such a thing is going on. Most recently Israel killed the family of a CNN producer, then a government rep went on CNN and blamed the dead family for getting killed. The question that has haunted me these last few days is, where do we go from here?