By Yukti Agarwal:
Living amongst war, destruction, death and calamity can often give rise to hatred, anger and revenge while at the same time, can help one feel compassion, consideration, and love for those affected. Poet Rafeef Ziadah knows this well – from the rage she exhibits while narrating her passion-filled poems, to the solicitude she expresses for her fellow Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Rafeef is the voice of the speechless Palestinians, who strive to survive each day. She counters the misogynistic stereotypes against Arab women in her poem ‘Shades of Anger’, by saying, “I forgot to be your every orientalist dream, genie in the bottle, belly dancer, harem girl, soft spoken Arab girl.” With her sharp sense of sarcasm, irony and dark humour, she calls the Israelis her ‘liberators’ and sends a concrete message to the people of the world, that Palestinian children are not, and I quote, ‘collateral damage’ or ‘demographic threats.’
Rafeef’s voice isn’t an external show of pain; it is a deeply embedded wound that all the people living in areas of conflict bear, regardless of which side they are on. At the end of every war, whether it was a civil war, a World War, or a religious war, no clear winner has ever emerged. I say this not because, Israel didn’t manage to capture Gaza, or because Germany lost Danzig after the World War I, but rather, because during all of it, innocent civilians were killed, just to satisfy immoral political interests.
And this is the reason we need people like Rafeef in our world today. Because we need someone to tell us what is happening on the other side of the border. We could easily support Israel, because they are the only Jewish nation in this world, because USA supports it because Israel makes its own cloud to water its crop, because Israel is bigger, richer, more powerful and stronger than Palestine can ever be. Or we could support Palestine because they can’t even vote in the UN, because if they enter the seas that they rightfully own, they will be shot dead by Israeli soldiers, because they have been displaced, because they cannot sleep knowing no bombs will be dropped on them, because the only weapons they own are rocks to counter the Israeli soldiers, because they have no proper sanitation, food or shelter, because their land was stolen from them overnight.
And Rafeef has been there. She has experienced what every other Palestinian has. Israeli soldiers who told her that she deserved to be raped before she had her ‘terrorist’ children kicked her in the guts, she bore the pain of losing all she had, her land, her home. She fights a true fight, one that is pure and chaste, for the right to dignity and respect that Palestinians deserve.
I write this not to ‘promote’ Palestine, but to rather urge those who blindly support Israel due to its popularity to think again. So this story is not a ‘political’ story, it doesn’t contain the words ‘apartheid’ or ‘occupation’, it is not a ‘story of a woman in Gaza who needs medication’ or a ‘list of their (Palestinians’) names in a one thousand two hundred word limit’, this is the story highlighting the plight of the thousands who are losing their lives gruesomely in the name of religion.
I’ll let Rafeef take over from here.