The Electronic Intifada

A demolished home in the shadow of the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, 18 July 1997. (Photo: Nigel Parry)

Another hot and suffocating day.

You wake up in a home with only sporadic electricity. The water pressure is too low to provide a good shower or bath for you or your family. The neighboring community, armed to the teeth and keeping you and your loved ones in its gun-sights, has sunk a well to the level of the water table of your household; it’s their resource now. Not much you can do to stop them—you and what army?

Your children are hungry, irritable, and smelly. You try to calm them, singing them songs while heating up some left-over coffee and listening to news reports on a battery powered radio that promise your difficult life is only going to get worse.

You need to get to town to buy some food and medicine. Is it safe to try today? No. From your bullet-pocked front door, you see that heavily armed soldiers have blockaded the intersection at the end of your street once again. They are forbidding anyone from going in or out. Another day of being trapped, hungry, frustrated, and anxious about your father’s heart condition, your sister’s troubled pregnancy. How will you get them to the hospital when the moment of illness or birth comes?

In the searing heat of the afternoon, you decide to take a nap and encourage the fussy children to do the same. But no sooner do you all begin to rest and escape into a fitful sleep from the misery and humiliation of your daily lives than the grinding roar of the bulldozers starts up again. The remaining trees of your family’s orchards, a key economic resource for your entire community, are being uprooted by the neighboring community, which wants to expand its considerable living space yet again at your expense—while also reminding you who is boss here.

Some teenage boys cannot take it any more—the pressure, the boredom, the uncertainty, the injustice. They are gathering to complain loudly to the soldiers at the intersection. The soldiers grow edgy and begin to position themselves for some action. One of the boys flings a rock, and the explosion hanging all day in the air as a possibility is realized: gunshots ring out, tear gas canisters fly, shouts and screams rip through the quiet rage and despair engulfing all of you.

In less than five minutes, one boy lies dead, three more are wounded. No one can get them to the hospital. Will they survive their wounds? And if they do, what sort of future awaits them in this cage? Maybe it is best to die, after all.

The radio brings a report from a powerful leader of a foreign country blaming you and your children for this state of affairs, calling on you and your children to cease and desist from your violence. You have no help, no money, no basic amenities, no weapons, and little hope. You do have a sense of outrage and astonishment that the entire world cannot appreciate how unfair this situation is, how outgunned and overwhelmed you and your family are. That outrage, burning in your empty stomach, is all that sustains you through yet another endless day….

If this were your daily, inescapable reality, in the suburbs and cities of the USA, would you accept it? Would you expect the world to accept it? Probably not. So why should anyone in the comfort of a US city or suburb expect Palestinians under occupation to acquiesce to their oppression, strangulation, disenfranchisement, and dehumanization? The next time some talking head in the US media tells you that Palestinian violence must end, imagine yourself in their worn and tattered shoes, and don’t forget: Your tax dollars are enabling this situation to continue, these lives to be destroyed.

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