Thursday, August 31, 2006

Zebquine Aug 27th, 2006

Once, after a bomb destroyed an apartment building in Gaza, Dan Halutz, currently the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, was asked what it felt like to drop a large bomb on people. He replied, “I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb's release. A second later and it's gone, and that's all. That is what I feel."

Today I attended a funeral in Zebquine along with several members of the Campaign for Civil Resistance. It was for a family of 12 who died on the first day of the air attack. The family lived on the outskirts of the village, and the father thought it would be safer to stay with relatives in the center of the village for the night. The next morning, the father went outside, started the car and began collecting everyone to return home. It was a trip that would never be completed. A large bomb hit the house, leveling it.

The funeral was a somber one. In one room the men spoke of martyrdom and the impulse to resist and fight for your home, your land, and your people. To fight for what was right and just. They said that as the bombing began there were members of the community who they had never considered fighters, in the streets with weapons, willing to defend their families and property. I am certain many Americans can appreciate this reaction. It is the principle advocated by the National Rifle Association. In defending Israel, Americans are quick to retort, “What would you do if we were invaded by another country? You have the right to self-defense don’t you?” The people of South Lebanon have exactly the same impulse.

On the porch, the women spoke of the family members who were killed, and they brought out smiling portraits of each of the twelve victims.

When we left the funeral, we went to the destroyed home. It was one of dozens destroyed in the village center. A green living room set covered in grey dust sat in a corner. Everything else was a twisted pile of rubble. A child’s nightgown patterned with red hearts and the word ”love” was in the dust of the street, the pages of a book were fluttering in the breeze. The women who accompanied us explained that it took several days to dig all the victims out.

As we continued down the street, a young man surveying the rubble stopped me as I passed and began speaking rapidly in Arabic. He smiled and waited. He asked what I thought of his village. He asked me if this was right, if this devastation was somehow deserved. All I could say was, “Of course not.” He said, “What can we do?” I did not reply. He pointed to the home he had been looking at and said, "two men died there". He pointed across the road to a van crushed by a fallen home, “A school bus” he said. We turned another corner, and he picked up a school tablet, “in this house the man had three school children”, he dropped the book back in the dust.

This evening the skies are crystal clear. The Milky Way, in its majesty, drapes the sky, there are more stars than I can imagine. A shooting star races to the horizon as the crickets chirp their song. All I can think of is bombs raining down like shooting stars with sound, as Katushyas race to meet them. All I can think of is a child in a nightgown with hearts and love, whose dreams were ended in the flash of a smart bomb.

I wonder if the crickets sing as homes explode in the night? Or does the natural world bear witness to this sacrilege in silence?