On the Second Anniversary of Cast Lead, I Reach Out to a Young Gazan Writer

Two years ago, On December 27th, 2008, the Israeli military began their campaign, Operation Cast Lead,  against the people and infrastructure of Gaza. About 1,500 Palestinian people, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed.  Many children were killed.  Far more were wounded, traumatized, orphaned, or lost a parent, sibling or siblings.

Americans have to look hard to see the horrific details of what actually occurred during the operation that inspired many Zionist Israelis to lament afterward, “This time we went too far.”   Not that this momentary pang of guilt will keep the next Gaza event from happening.  It is already in the planning stages, according to the Jerusalem Post.

One of my strongest beliefs and hopes is that young people – Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Turkish, Egyptian and American – can help us find a way out of this awful endgame of war in which Gazans are trapped.  The young American, Rachel Corrie, in one of her last emails before she was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza in 2003, wrote:

I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity.

I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

Since then, I’ve met many Palestinians in the USA and in the UK.  Today I introduced myself to a young Palestinian woman at her blog, I Am.  She wrote back.  I can now write about that, in hopes that now, not someday, you will meet these people too:


I posted your story at my blog, Progressive Alaska. I’d also like to post it at the American blog, firedoglake, but they probably won’t let me print your entire story, unless you say that it is OK.

I’ll pray for your successful future as a writer, and as whatever you want to be.

It was night time in Gaza when I wrote.  In the morning she replied:

Mr Philip Munger, I can’t but thank you for your great effort publishing Palestine and letting others know the truth. of course I don’t mind posting it at the American blog it will be an honor for me to have told just a little about what Palestinians have been through in here. Thank you for being here. I, we all appreciate it deeply.

I initially read Rawan’s story this morning at the blog Mondoweiss, where her article had been entered in an ongoing contest, called Gaza Two Years Later.

Here is Rawan Yaghi’s story of what happened in her mother’s arms two years ago, when she was 15 years old:

A Little Girl

Sleep in here sleep little girl
I would keep you so warm
Sleep… darling I’ll hold you so firm
You’re here in my lap no need for fright
Keep on your happy sight
Sun will shine
Birds will wake the sleepy night
You’re my….

My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap.

Some minutes passed; however, she didn’t continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.

sat beside her, for, then, she was so cold that I couldn’t stay in her lap.

“Mama, why is the man outside crying?”.

She didn’t answer. She kept listening.

I said no word afterwards. I may have slept for a short while after the noise was a little bit lower. When I woke up I saw my mother with her eyes closed covered with my blanket. I thought she must have been awake the whole time I was sleeping, that’s why I didn’t try to wake her up; she would get in a really bad mood if I do. I poured her some water and put it in front of her. She was still cold. I was cold too but I thought she was so much colder.

I sat right in the opposite of her and kept waiting her to wake up and drink my glass of water and then thank me for it. Thinking of my dad and two brothers who got out of the house carrying a white shirt and how much noise happened after they got out, while my mother followed them so fast and came back so slow, with that noise frequently coming back, I kept staring at her cold body.

Now, two years later I understand it all, the cold, the whimper, my dad’s white shirt, my brothers, everything, even the mess outside. I understand why the men who came that morning took only me and why they wouldn’t listen to me yelling at them saying that my mother is still there feeling very cold.

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