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palestine journal: july 21

turning names into numbers
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"Did you get the five killed in beit hanoun?"
"who's verified that?"
"WAFA just reported another two in Nablus!"
"Names, names - call Majdi, see if he can get confirmation from the hospital on
those names."
"Another two in Maghazi - get Rami on the phone! What?? The phone line is out,
again??!!"
These are the conversations of our tiny newsroom in Palestine....trying to keep up
with the onslaught....we want to report the number of deaths accurately, so we find
out the name and age of each person killed, so we don't accidentally report it twice
(with reports coming in so quickly, it can get confusing)....we don't count numbers,
we count names.

it's the continual process of turning human beings into names into numbers, in the
ongoing compilation of statistics that add up to hundreds.....hundreds of human
beings, each one of them with their own lives, stories and struggles.....one a
seven-year old who just learned to ride a bike, one a grandmother who was almost
finished embroidering a pillow for her daughter.....each person, each story, is lost
in this barrage of numbers....

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the following was written today by nora, an american woman who has been volunteering
in a refugee camp in bethlehem:

There will be no statistics in this journal entry because what difference does 10
shredded children in Gaza, or 15 sliced children in Lebanon, or 40 smashed children
in Iraq make to the international community anyway? What difference does it make
when the twisted and sick US corporate media doesn't even mention their names, or
their ages, or their favorite color --
something to put a human face on the mangled mess made by the latest
US-manufactured, Israeli-fired missile that destroyed what used to be a nose, a
mouth, two eyes, freckles, cheek, or forehead?

Yes, there were "escalations" today in Gaza and Lebanon. There were "military
strikes" and "retaliatory attacks" and "intensifications" and "deaths." there were
"officials" and "spokespeople" and "leaders" joining in the finger-pointing and the
name-calling. Meanwhile, Arab people are burning. Numbers and statistics become,
therefore, irrelevant. Language loses its meaning on the tongue, becomes sludge and
dribbles down one's chin. My dear friend Siham said today, "What does the term
'civilized society' mean when they are killing people like this?"

What becomes of a language that has lost its original meaning? Does it shrivel up
and slink into an abyss to mingle with the ghosts of these headless, armless,
forgotten brown-skinned kids? And as we watch the footage, as we hear on the phone
from friends witnessing the carnage in their backyards, as we read the articles, how
many times can we use the words "unbelievable," "disgusting," "horrific?" They have
lost all meaning as well.

We need a new language to describe these nightmares. We need a new vehicle to convey
the disbelief and the disgust and the horror as Gaza burns, as Lebanon smolders, as
Iraq collapses.

As we rub our eyes tonight, bleary from thick cigarette smoke and too many hours of
being glued to the television, my friend Mustafa says, "No one notices, no one
cares. We are alone in this world." This is the aloneness. The isolation. Gazan and
Lebanese and Iraqi children are huddled in their beds tonight, screaming out to the
wall of silence in a sore-throated language, isolated in their terror.
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now back to jenka:

Is it possible, I ask you, to see Palestinians as people - to see them as your
brothers, your sisters, your children. Is it possible to see Iraqis that way?

Look closely at the pictures of burned and bombed children. Look closely, and for
long enough at the pictures, until you begin to realize that this child is the same
age/size as your daughter/nephew/granddaughter/cousin/neighbor. Look close enough,
and long enough, until you see that these are humans.

Not numbers.

But people.

And only Americans truly have the power to make all this violence stop. But people
see it as far away, disconnected from their own lives. If only people in the USA
knew just how connected the "preservation of the American lifestyle" is with wars
all over this earth.

A Lebanon diary: "Every night the bombing starts at ten past one":
 http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5148.shtml

A Gaza diary: "Killing for the sake of killing":
 link to www.imemc.org

"Why Is Israel Back in Gaza" (good analysis):
 http://palestinechronicle.com/story-07210633355.htm

pictures and blog from Lebanon:
 http://www.sabbah.biz

some pictures of Beirut before the current bombings:
 http://www.galenfrysinger.com/beirut.htm

interview with former israeli general about the difficulties israel is having in its
operations in southern lebanon:
 link to news.yahoo.com

lebanese support for hezbollah:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1825551,00.html

israeli helicopters collide:
 link to english.aljazeera.net

hit on UNIFIL post (head of the post says it was an israeli hit, but israel says it
was hezbollah):
 link to www.jpost.com
info on UNIFIL:  http://www.un.org/Depts/DPKO/Missions/unifil.htm

so many civilians killed in southern lebanon:
 link to news.yahoo.com
 link to english.aljazeera.net
 link to english.aljazeera.net

the lebanese prime minister says if israel carries out ground invasion, the lebanese
army will stand against them, and with hezbollah:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1825917,00.html

nasrallah's speech last night:
 link to www.maannews.net

israeli takeover of palestinian radio station:
 link to www.maannews.net

after being criticized by international federation of journalists, israel quits the
organization rather than respond:
 link to www.maannews.net

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 http://americaninpalestine.blogspot.com
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