Wednesday, January 7, 2009

does the 'refuge' in refugee actually mean anything?

Press TV image

Israel warns Rafah residents to leave

"Israel has urged residents in southern Gaza to evacuate the area, as the Israeli army mulls over ground assaults into populated cities.

The Israeli air force dropped leaflets in and around the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Wednesday, urging residents to evacuate their homes.

The Israeli army "demands those who live (in the areas bordering Egypt) to leave their houses. You have until 20:00 (1800 GMT)", the leaflets said."

my 31 year old keffiyah, which was given to me by Nabih to remind me to think about the Palestinians

I remember when my husband and 3 children were trapped in Lebanon in 2006 while Israel was conducting a massive bombing campaign on the people and the country. One of the questions I was often asked was, why don't they just leave?

To bridge the divide between what they do not know (because they have no background or experience with war and racism) and what the reality is ....was silencing. It was too much to answer. Where to begin?

Anyway, from personal experience, mostly when one is suffering trauma and severe psychological dismay from the thought of tanks rolling into your family's neighbourhood at any minute, one is numbed and can't speak. The simplest chore or thought becomes incomprehensible. Either one is silent or else one will begin to scream, like the Palestinian woman I saw on the Arabic Al-Jazeera this morning. Just screaming and screaming. Was she screaming her pains and fears and anger and helplessness? Her family died; mine did not as the Canadian government helped to evacuate them.

I don't know if there is a word for the feeling of total raging despair that is emotionally overwhelming and hollowing at the same time. I only know that once you have experienced it, you will know that awful, awful feeling.

I don't wish it on anyone.

And I remember when I told these well-intentioned friends who were concerned for my family that my in-laws refused to be evacuated, they were dumbstruck. Why won't they leave?! Tell them to go! They have to save themselves! They can come to Canada!

I told them they refuse to leave their home and their lives. Should they walk away from everything they own and become refugees? The pitied and abandoned of the world? Israel has invaded Lebanon so many times. My in-laws have lived through so many invasions, bombings, and military aggressions that enough was enough; they would rather die in their own home--on the land that they love--rather than become homeless, to become refugees.

After all, they had only to look at the Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon who have been languishing for 60 years in abject poverty, to remind them how the world treats refugees.

Khalid Mish'al, head of the Hamas Political Bureau:

"The logic of those who demand that we stop our resistance is absurd. They absolve the aggressor and occupier - armed with the deadliest weapons of death and destruction - of responsibility, while blaming the victim, prisoner and occupied. Our modest, home-made rockets are our cry of protest to the world. Israel and its American and European sponsors want us to be killed in silence. But die in silence we will not.
the list of Israel's crimes is long. The justifications change, but the reality is the same: colonial occupation, oppression, and never-ending injustice. If this is the "free world" whose "values" Israel is defending, as its foreign minister Tzipi Livni alleges, then we want nothing to do with it."

1 comment:

Merche Pallarés said...

Now, Israel is telling the people of Rafah to leave their homes and take refuge??? Where, may I ask? Unless they dive into the sea and drown, I don't think they have anywhere to escape. How cynical and devious!! Hugs, M.