While watching the events in Gaza unfold these past few weeks, I am overcome with grief, and it has become even more dominant once the ceasefire was declared. In the next few days and weeks, Israeli elections will roll on while Gazans will spend this time digging the bodies of relatives out of the rubble. Grief can grab us in the middle of a horrendous moment, where a single image has the power to lead our minds down corridors we would not regularly venture in to. And this has been the kind of grief we’ve all experienced these past few weeks on this side of the world. For me, the more powerful form of grief isn’t in the real-time imagery of kids with torn limbs being rushed in to a hospital, it’s in the thought process that begins once the dust begins to settle.
The thought process isn’t unusual, in fact, we’ve all experienced it several times before in this region and we know exactly how it will go. It is part of this region’s programming; its code.
Hundreds upon hundreds of innocent people have died in a matter of days at the hands of a country that has proven time and time again that it has no regard for human life, let alone Palestinian life, which it regards as less than.
The Arab street has marched and shouted and burnt flags and cried. The Arab leaders have done absolutely nothing except for the calling of an emergency summit that took three weeks to put together while over one thousand people died under their watch. Unfortunately, the farce was presented live on TV for everyone to see; for everyone to remember.
And then the dust begins to settle and we see not only bodies, but the death of infrastructure, schools, hospitals, essential resources, and pretty much anything that played any role in sustaining the life of an already impoverished people.
Slowly, the Arab street begins the process of forgetting, or simply dispersing like a protest crowd and heading back home to live their lives again. The Arab leaders will wipe their foreheads with a sigh of relief that the immediate pressure from their streets have subsided and they are safe for another cycle. International media will find another crisis to shine its spotlight on. And the world slowly forgets. And we, slowly forget.
The terms “peace process” and “two-state solution” are once again resurrected.
And without even noticing, we push the restart button.
We recycle tragedy over and over and over again, until none of it matters anymore. Until all of it is just so predictable, you can map out the events blow-by-blow within the first 24 hours.
Worst of all: we accept it.
We accept it with a certain dose of inevitability, as if this is what’s supposed to happen, or as if this is all there is. That same cycle repeating itself over and over again, with no one there to stop it. And the lives that have been lost in the past several weeks will have been lost in vain, with no one there to honor their memory with so much as an ambition for something better; a call for the breaking of this cycle.
Eventually, there is a tipping point. I don’t know where it is, and I couldn’t recognize it if I saw it. But eventually, all cycles are broken and usually it’s due to some unexpected monkey wrench being thrown in. The x-factor.
But, until then, we just keep pushing that restart button.
Over and over again.