Gaza: Restart

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.


  • Nas, this has been my concern since Olmert announce the cease fire. Are we going to go back to our normal lives and simly forget the horrors of this war? Are we going to forget the protests in our streets and stop pressuring our corrupted Arab governments?

    As much as I believe that Israel has wakened the Arab youth and the generations of this region as much as I’m afraid we will forget soon and push the restart button!

    I think what we can do is keep encouraging people to be more pro active, and i mean not only thru blogging but thru innovative thinking!

  • “But, until then, we just keep pushing that restart button.

    Over and over again.”…

    You are right about one thing: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

    Why don’t you try, just for once, something else?

    Like peace and future for your children ?

    Don’t answer me.
    It was a rethoric question.

  • I can start theorizing right now and taint my views with a universal humanistic attitude, but i know that i’d be fooling the core of my consciousness; call me cynical or whatever…

    yes, it is true that we might have the chance to push the restart button maybe next time.. the time after.. but there will be one day when somebody else pushes the restart button over the loss which is ours… why? because we are selfish (as long it’s not me losing a parent, child, sibling, or even a leg, well.. you know I’m still the lucky one) also, we are mostly hypocrites… whether we apathetically accept it because we are forced to or not, that’s the reality on the ground.

    spreading awareness and trying to change perceptions in the world regarding the Palestinian cause might just change individual attitudes, but it will never change the status quo..unless, a revolution of sorts happens in our region.

  • Why don’t you try, just for once, something else? Like peace and future for your children ?

    Don’t answer me. It was a rethoric question.

    Well, first of all, for the sake of grammar, it’s called a rhetorical question.

    And since you’re a fan, here’s a better one for you:

    Why don’t the people you support stop killing those children?

  • Nas, your words brought tears to my eyes. Very well written and very true indeed.

    “Why don’t you try, just for once, something else?

    Like peace and future for your children ?”

    Would you want peace if a group of people come into your home, take it from you and burn all your belongings afterwhich they throw you on the street and start killing your children one by one?

    Don’t answer me.

    It’s a rhetorical question.

  • Salaam Nas. Your words ring absolutely true. You’ve vocalized the heartwrenching pain we are all experiencing. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently. My hope is that we will manage to break this cycle.

    May Allah be with the Gazans, and awake the umma from its slumber.

  • rhetorical question.

    Children should not pay the price for the stupidity of the adults. On both sides.
    Make sure to tell that to Hamas the next time they use civilians to protect themselves.

    Your answer just proved my point, alas.

    There will be no peace until both sides understand that we are all human beings.

  • But that’s exactly the problem, why should we restart? why should we recycle? when we should just go ahead, move forward, learn from the past…

  • idit: “Make sure to tell that to Hamas the next time they use civilians to protect themselves. ”

    I wont even list the number of ways in which that statement is hilarious, especially coming from a country that is widely known for using Palestinian kids as human shields.

    Shaden: you’re right, and this is the problem i’m trying to point out. so much has caused us to stay in this loop, both the arab and non-arab world, that it seems almost impossible to move forward without it being repeated unless something drastic happens to change the course of this looping river.

  • What no one noticed yesterday – not the Arabs nor the Israelis nor the portentous men from Europe – was that the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting last night was opening on the 90th anniversary – to the day – of the opening of the 1919 Paris peace conference which created the modern Middle East. One of its main topics was “the borders of Palestine”. There followed the Versailles Treaty. And we know what happened then. The rest really is history. Bring on the ghosts.
    — Robert Fisk:

  • Worst of all: we accept it.

    what choice do we have? we can’t bring dead people back to life. no one is going anywhere. israel will not be destroyed, and israel is unable to wipe out groups it doesn’t like, like hamas. which means that ultimately they have to deal with each other.

    we come back to the two state solution and the painfully ineffective peace process because unfortunately that’s the least bad alternative we have out of an array of horrendously bad options.

  • What I am happy about this time is that enough people seem to be talking about this restart button, of things going back to “normal”. Of this thing called lack of strategic thinking.

    I think we should start by organizing a Palestine blog day a month from now..
    Followed by a candle lit peace vigile for the people who were lost. and so on and so forth.

  • Idit: maybe you should watch some news to see Israeli soldiers hiding behind Palestinian children!

    Plus, it’s really humaine and justified for Israel to bomb a UN SCHOOL??!!!! Is the UN a terrorist organisation as well?
    Your country (or the country you support) has voilated more human rights and international laws than it can ever count. Isreal is the true terrorist state.

Your Two Piasters: