With You in Gaza

(Circa 2014 Offensive on Gaza, a.k.a. ‘Operation Protective Edge’)

We are with you in Gaza

Where UN resolutions are good for nothing

But stitching into tents for your refugees,

Where schools and museums and family homes

Are legitimate targets

Because this is a war on history,

A war on all memory

Of Palestine.

We are with you in Gaza,

Where the free world spends more money

On weapons aimed at you than it spends feeding Africa,

Where waterless, powerless streets

Are crammed with ghosts

And throng with the spirits of millions

Of Palestinians living now in exile

But whose hearts are with you in Gaza.

We are with you in Gaza

Where the West’s unblinking eyes

Still see no apartheid beyond the wall,

That 430 mile concrete wall

Segregating rights-bearing citizens from the unpeople.

Never mind Mandela, that canonised freedom fighter

Who said the war on apartheid was still on,

Until freedom for Palestine too, was won.

We are with you in Gaza,

Where your family grew as long as the olive grove

Until the tanks came, and the branches

Were crushed as quick as human bone

As the UN, which once owned

And gave away half of Palestine,

Now inquires and condemns

And draws green lines.

We are with you in Gaza,

Where babies born at checkpoints

And called terrorists before their mothers name them,

Where they inherit their grandparents’ nightmares

And the monsters they draw are real

And have no trouble sleeping

Safe in the knowledge that they fight for democracy

(A democracy which ignores elections, draws borders round its majority

And beats its own citizens for protesting Zionist brutality.)

We are with you in Gaza,

Where you see this man here, he talked liberation for sixty years,

Put flesh between hope and bullets for sixty years,

Held his dignity like a shield but died in poverty

Without justice or autonomy

Leaving children who dream only

Of a brother returned from the cells;

The silent, unaccountable cells that

Read no rights and appoint no lawyers

And need no jury to sanction suffering.

We are with you in Gaza,

Where Western weapons roar

While Western leaders hear no evil

Speak no evil – speak only of a peace process

Which mocks the term

What peace without justice?

What process between Gaza and Goliath?

Double speak, double speak,

Is ‘peace process’ just UN speak for ‘well-mannered genocide’?

We are with you in Gaza,

Unlike the mainstream media,

Where a hundred years of oppression

Are redacted and sound bitten.

We are shamed by our anger

And angered by our shame – explain?

Ashamed to rage at Goliath when he’s bankrolled here at home,

And in our name.

We are with you in Gaza,

Where a monsoon of shells flood

The alleys of Al Shujaya with civilian blood

Where the children are coming home legless

Or headless, were helpless

As you feel now, curled up like a child

As the grief pours in;

As we feel now, beyond the sea,

Standing with our candles

As we cry

We will not let Gaza die

(Not that Gaza is waiting on us to fight for her survival

But we are with you

We have been every day since 1948

For whatever it’s worth

I don’t know what it’s worth

A lot, we’re told at every rally

But on days like this it doesn’t seem

To count for much, sadly.)

Gaza, we are marching,

Gaza, we are chanting,

Gaza, we are divesting,

They said the old would die and the young would forget

But we still read the names of your dead.

Nidal, aged five.

Mohammed, fifteen.

Riad, fifty.

Hussein, thirteen.

Salah, six.

Ali, only yesterday, only eighteen months.

And what of the killers, of the IDF?

They traumatise and maim and kill

But they regret

Almost with the vigour they forget

Civilian death.

Oh, but the moment every Palestinian’s gone

Or bends the knee

Then, they say, there can be peace!

How simple

How civilised things might be…

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