“Mummy, are we going to die too? Are we all going to die?”
A friend and I were discussing a war conflict years back when my then four-year-old daughter looked up from her play to ask me those two heart-wrenching questions.
Of course, lesson observed, be careful of vulnerable, innocent ears of children when having grown-up conversations. No one wants to hear their child worry about war or death, and of course I reassured my child that she, and we, were safe. I also became terribly aware that many mothers cannot offer such reassurance.
I wasn’t going to write about this. I didn’t want to write from reaction, and have waited 11 days to sit down before paper and pen.
I have a very tiny percentage of Jewish DNA.
My partner’s grandparents were Jewish, but that’s not my background.
I have clients and friends in Israel, but still not my story.
I have Palestinian friends, but am not Palestinian myself.
So why should I add my opinion to the overwhelming amount of commentary on social media? Why does my voice matter on the Israeli-Palestinian war?
It’s complicated, I hear over and over. Don’t talk about it if it’s not your war. You’re white, stop talking.
I was raised in the land of the Jewish killing grounds, Poland. The memories of the war are passed down to me through my grandmothers and my parents—my cells are full of memories.
I was a teenager, sequestered at the public library and a voracious reader, when I came upon the reality of World War Two. Not the reality my adoptive parents told me about Jews being the reason there was a war in the first place. No, this reality:
In late 1941 and early 1942 the Nazis built camps in occupied Poland whose sole purpose was to kill people on an industrial scale. Belzec, Chełmno, Sobibor, and Treblinka camps were built to murder hundreds of thousands of people using carbon monoxide gas. They were located in heavily wooded areas, away from population centres, but connected to the railway network.
Two further camps in Poland are usually categorised as death camps – Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, both of which also served as forced labour camps. ~ Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
I can’t write this without being brutally honest about the influences through which I viewed all things Middle East.
I was raised by folks who hated Jews. They were brainwashed and they tried to brainwash me. But for the library, I may have believed every word. I perhaps would have looked away from all things Middle East. To be honest, my inherited religious background made me question what one could or could not believe. Oh, let’s not be mistaken here—my parents also hated Arab nations. I won’t repeat the vitriol.
Some quiet inner voice insisted on more knowledge. Back to the library and bookstores I went. Maybe it’s my interested in history, anthropology, sociology, or culture that made me ravenous for the truth.
Maybe it was because I’m a mother that I became increasingly aghast at what I read.
Here are some things I read and listened to. This is just a small sample of what I researched. I encourage you to look around for yourself, listen to varying iterations.
Two books that had a great influence on my perspective were Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on the US-Israeli War Against the Palestinians (2013) by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, and, On Palestine (2015) by the same authors
Please do not write to me to say that I am for Hamas, or against Israel, or that I do not understand what happened in Israel on October 7, because I share about Palestine and the history of this conflict.
I’m for humanity, all of it. I’m against war, all of it. I’m not willing to be blind to what any side perpetrates. To understand the whole of a conversation, one must be willing to have the whole of the conversation.
There are no sides when children are dying.
As of October 13th – “At least 1,799 Palestinians, including at least 583 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Saturday morning, and another 7,388 are injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. DCIP is working to document additional attacks and killings. Israeli forces have shot and killed eight Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank since October 7.” ~ Defense for Children International Palestine
It’s not complicated. Children are dying because adults can’t prioritize human life over borders.
I don’t want to look away from genocide, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, or occupation, just as I don’t want to look away from an Israel vulnerable to attack, or the more than 1,400 children, women and men killed on October 7 in Israel.
That Hamas must be destroyed is an understandable Israeli emotive. How can they not fight back, one can ask? But is it possible? Hamas is not only a terrorist movement, it is a seed that has the potential to rise up again and again. Does an eye for an eye have any real potential for sustainable solutions? Obviously not.
The world calls for international intervention. But who? Will the UN do more than say this war is in violation of international law? What are we waiting for? I’m hearing echoes of “it’s complicated” again.
I’m suspicious of the United States as a trusted ally when they themselves illegally invaded Hawaii in 1893, leading to an illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government. They’ve apologized.
“Hawaii is internationally recognized as a state of the United States of America. Sovereignty advocates argue that Hawaii is an independent nation under military occupation due to the fact that there is no treaty of annexation between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States.”
But I digress.
Some resources which are helpful to understand the creation of Israel. (I’m not against an Israeli state, before anyone jumps to their keyboard)
How Israel was Created: A British Promise:
Yuval Noah Harari on CNN Amanpour – on hope for the future and an example of what solutions are possible through historical relations between Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine:
Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan Peterson:
The Israeli Prime Minister discusses that after the Jews were expelled from their land, the Arabs did nothing with it, it was barren and in ruin, and there were practically no people in the area when Israel was formed. (Except for about 700,00 Palestinian Arabs who were displaced. But if you’re not doing anything with it, then are you really there?) I can’t say that this one didn’t make me angry.
I also watched an interview with Gabor Maté, a Holocaust survivor. You can find the video on Youtube.
Palestine, part of a broader region known as the Levant, has always been a crossroads to various civilizations. A melting pot of Jews, Arabs and Christians; it has been ruled by the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and the Ottoman Empire, until 1948 when Israel became a country. Perhaps I have a romanticized view of the melting pot or a crossroads, like in Istanbul, where East meets West.
Perhaps I’m an idealist who thinks that crimes of war should be learned from and not repeated.
I’m not an intellectual by any means, I have my own philosophies and opinions. I’m not saying I’m right, or that I’m an expert in matters of politics and war.
I am a humanitarian though, and if you wanted to go down the road of life paths and numerology, this is confirmed by my life path number nine—The Humanitarian.
As a student of astrology, I can tell you that a solar eclipse like the one we just witnessed on October 14th and an eclipse “season” can sometimes ignite the rise or fall of a leader or political system. It touches our third eye (the pineal gland), which can precipitate a spiritual awakening. It opens an opportunity for harmony within ourselves and with others. It illuminates the personal and collective shadow. As above so below, us on the witch’s path say.
So what do I want? Why should I share any of this?
I want any mother, anytime, anywhere to be able to say to a child who asks, “Mummy, are we going to die too? Are we all going to die?” that nobody is going to die because of war, land disputes, or religious beliefs.
I think that when we allow ourselves the “it’s complicated” in a situation…we’re putting blinders on, we’re looking away, because we don’t know the answer. Even when it’s staring us in the face. Children first. I wish everyone could agree to that simple, uncomplicated truth, and inhabit the crossroads peacefully.