As Gaza Burns, Amman Erupts in Protests

It’s the end of the year, but, once again, it looks like we don’t have much to celebrate, as air raids in Gaza continue. What do you say to this? Who do you blame?

Some say that in order to stand in solidarity with Gaza civilians, we must stand in solidarity with Hamas. I have rather mixed feelings on the issue, as you can imagine. I think I can understand why Hamas have become such a popular force in Gaza, but I don’t have to like it either.

In fact, it looks like Hamas’ popularity is the best thing to happen to the Israeli far-right at this crucial juncture.”But what about the civilians being killed?” You will ask. “What about the families getting destroyed?”

“But what about the people that those families wanted into power?” – Will be the counter-question. And no amount of reasoning, no amount of shouting, even pleading, will do a single bit of good.

When I heard about the local Jordanian effort to bring food and clothes into Gaza, the first thing I had to ask was: “this aid is going to civilians, right?” (It is, of course – and the Jordanian government can presently deliver aid where it needs to be delivered, but I had to check)

Supporting Hamas, in any way, shape, or form, is off the table.

And yet, who else do the people of Gaza have, if not Hamas? The very physical realm of Gaza has become a terrible conundrum, a trap. The people protesting on the streets of Amman, yesterday, today, tomorrow, they all know this.

How do you defuse a situation in which civilians have no one left to trust but the very people who can easily, and, it seems, without many regrets – considering the reward that surely awaits the suffering in paradise – get them killed? How do you defuse a situation in which violent death no longer frightens, but hardens, hardens a spirit that has already become steeled with grief and hate?

I ask these questions on a sunny holiday in Amman, Jordan, as my neighbourhood prepares for yet another protest, as the streets lie quiet, despite everyone having a day off for the Islamic New Year. On a beautiful day like this, it’s hard to believe the level of violence that’s going on next door.

I spoke briefly to a few protesters down the street yesterday, and the one thing that stood out in our conversation was the sound of helplessness and frustration in their voices. “The world has to see,” they said. And I agreed. The world sees, and then goes flips the channel back to the ball-game. George W. Bush, in his last days in office, has waved his hand vaguely on the subject of civilian deaths. That’s all.

“Are you American?” They asked. I thought I had done a pretty good job of hiding my slight drawl.

“Ukrainian,” I said.

“A Ukrainian writer in Jordan,” they grinned. It seemed they understood these things after a quick glance. They looked like old hands to me. The protests themselves are part of a cycle these days – the never-ending, grinding cycle of death and outrage.

While living in Amman, I generally do not bring up my father’s cousin, the one who married an Israeli and moved to Israel. How do I explain the level of anti-Semitism at her old job in Ukraine to explain her decision to go? How do I humanize her? And how do I humanize the Palestinians, especially those living in Gaza, when talking to her about the legacy she has now inherited?

One of the jobs of the writer in these times is to be a conduit, but what if there is nothing left to pass on, except for visions of blood?

There are more questions than answers, today. One day, the cool eye of history will judge these events in an insightful, perhaps even impartial manner. But for the people living, and dying, within these moments, these hours, the only thing left is to ask the world to see.

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  1. ginan rauf
    Posted December 29, 2008 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Hi Natalie:

    Well there are places to begin…

    Like History… We can ask ourselves how was Hamas created and Why?

    Why do the people in Gaza only have Hamas as a choice? Who humilated the secular alternative and what is left of any kind of alternative given the complicity of the Arab regimes….

    One might also turn to what’s left of TATTERED INTERNATIONAL LAW— What do the GENEVA conventions say about collective punishment—–

    What would it do if the Arab world- just once- saw a fair and reciprocal implementation of international law and those responsible for firing missiles into Israel were treated like criminals

    WHat if people in GAZA didn’t have to depend on them for food because there were no embargo….

    Again, writers have a possible option; look at history, ask how have we gotten where we are


  2. Posted December 30, 2008 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    “And how do I humanize the Palestinians, especially those living in Gaza,”
    Say what? humanizing Palestinians? excuse me lady, they are already human ,we don’t need anybody to do us any “humanization”!

  3. Natalia Antonova
    Posted December 30, 2008 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    “Humanize” as in the opposite of “dehumanize,” in case you are wondering.

    Ginan, all good points.

  4. Husam Abdullatif
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Hello Natalya…. i just have to comment here and stress the fact that Hamas as a political entity won the elections in gaza by a large majority….. it was the democratic choice of most oif the people there…. so… the world has to deal with it as a legitimate entity…. with a large backing by people who believe in it and are willing to scarifice for their belief. if the world wants to deal with Hamas it wont be by boycotting nor starving nor bombing but by respecting and working with Hamas towards a better future… this simple truth wasnt tackled by israel in fact it did the exact opposite and will let people rally mnore behind Hamas… Israel is strengthening the support of its rival… and in the end he who saws the wind reaps the whirlwind