Saturday, October 14, 2023

Hatred is an Unbearable Weight

 It has been one week.

Sabbath to Sabbath.

That the world turned her attention to the place often in the periphery of being unless the news shatters the perception of innocence and assaults our eyes with the unseeable.

Last week, during celebrations for the Jewish people, Hamas hang glided intentions of destruction and rained down terror upon hundreds of young people at a music concert.  They indiscriminately killed people, raped women, snatched hostages, all in the space of moments that the Israeli government was unable to respond. 

It was a weekend.

it was a holiday.

It was planned.

It was barbaric.

It was evil.

It was inhumane.

It was terror.

I was offline last Saturday, my television not tuned into the prior week incessant wrangling about the American elections and the will=they-or-won't they of the Republican congress.  My husband and I were enjoying much needed respite.

Even Sunday, when I took a little road trip up to Vermont to just be, I was not fully aware of what had been going on. NPR wasn't playing in my car. I knew by that late afternoon there had been something, but not sure what the extent of it had been.

By Monday, the reality of what happened became more clear and after spending the night digesting the news, reading writers I trusted, and tuning in, I was stunned into near silence.

I had an interfaith coffee already scheduled for mid-morning and neither of us were Jewish or Muslim or Palestinian or living in the Middle East, each of us wore the realization of what was taking place on our faces.

Multiple times we were covering our mouths as we began to unpack what it was. What we needed to do.

Through our coffee chat - an African American woman of multiethnic and multiracial heritage and a Puerto Rican woman - shared our dismay, our shock, our knowing that we were called into saying something - and finding words for what there are no words.

It is the same thing I saw happening all week with the news coverage, from those expertly trained in how to tell us what is going on and guiding the sense-making of what makes-no-sense.

That was not what I saw most of the week.

It was pain, shock, knowing, bearing, stunned silence after more and more was told, stories were told, funerals were going on, evacuations were going on, bombs were dropped, water was withheld, my God!

I wasn't a Monday-morning rush to write. So many of us were in the same position.  I'm not an expert on Middle East conflict except what I know from a spiritual, Biblical perspective and intimate through conversations. It is decades, centuries, millennia long.

And yet, it isn't.

This recent spate of hate is grown from modern times.

Hamas is not the age of the land, they are an occupying terrorist organization bent on the destruction of the Jewish race, much like the American grown tiki torchers and people who murdered innocents in Pittsburg. They are the same thread of cold-hearted-evil.

Hamas works through fear and propaganda and gangsterism, they terrorize the un-landed people living in the Gaza Strip and other areas of Palestine. 

This was not a holy war.

This was not a holy ideological conflict between descendants of brothers.

This was not the on-going and necessary conversation of the need for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

This was terror.

President Biden said it was not human behavior, far beyond even being inhumane. It was beyond animalistic. It was demonic.

They used women, children, girls, old women as fodder for their televised reign of bloodshed.

They murdered infants in front of their parents.

They raped girls.

Israel responded to all of it, from the first of it to the on-going with their state power of declaring war. They immediately did so. They dropped bombs and warfare on a stretch of land that is smaller than the state where I was just visiting. It is densely populated. 1.1 million people.

The latest news was the Israeli government told them they had to evacuate in 24 hours.

One of my esteemed biblical scholars posted on her instagram last night, "you can't move a city of people out of a hurricane zone in 24 hours. Evacuating 1.1 million people of out of Gaza in 24 hours is.not.possible. Just tell us you intend to massacre people without saying it." - Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey.

It is worse than imaginable.

And it is so very complicated.

No, not complicated to condemn what Hamas did, that is without question.

it is even understandable for Israel's response, the Jewish people have already suffered and this loss of life was more in one day than Kristallnaught. 

So there are parts of me that get their immediate response.

Except I also don't.

Over half the population of Hamas are children and half of the other half are women and old people. And not all of the people who live there are Hamas. They are invaded and overtaken, much like the gangs in my ancestral homeland have people living in terror in their own neighborhoods. Hamas has a sophisticated system of tunnels and weaponry and just barbarism. 

They will not stop.

This will not be over in one week.

And there are changes that must come.

Last night, Jewish people in New York, at the start of their sabbath, did a sit in at their senator's home to demand that there be a solution for the Palestinian people, that Israeli stop being an occupying, colonizing, terrorizing force against these people. This is something that has been going on along that part of the Middle East since the 1940s when settlers started taking land that had been in Palestinian families for centuries.

Many had already been displaced.

Gaza was a place of displacement.

The Israeli government has been currently taking a hard-line, ultra conservative stance, much like the MAGA republicans in this country, and were also bent on taking more, leaving a minoritized-people with even less than what they were existing on.

We have seen over the years news reports of Israeli troops that indiscriminately killed civilians, their atrocities against Palestinian women and children, their reign of terror. 

My daughters and I marched for Palestinian independence. Nine years ago, Ferguson and Palestine were understood in an intersection way.  The Palestinian-Americans were teaching the African Americans how to deal with tear gas. Israeli troops had been using that tactic for years.

I mourned with my Jewish brothers and sisters with Pittsburg, we were in seminary at the time, and at on-going acts of anti-semitism happening in this country.

That is what my father taught me.

That I was connected to everyone, he taught me first about the Jewish people. I remember being nine and asking him why he was telling us this and making us watch movies or read books about the Holocaust. He said our plight was intertwined, that we were brothers, and that human beings should care for human beings and should stand against hatred, regardless of race, creed, or skin color.

Over my lifetime, I've tried to teach the same thing to my children.

Before this news hit, I was reading and posting my support of the Haitian dam-builders because water is a human right.

I was listening about the African nations banning together to oust colonizers and realize their economic power is un unity.

I was reading and listening about the ongoing assaults against the heritage, presence, and being of African-Americans that have dominated the atmosphere. Whether it was a Black boy with locs in Texas being banned from his public school or the white guy suing Black women for giving money to Black women or the non-stop book banning, the airwaves were filled with one form of hatred after another.

How do we shed this weight?

This unbearable weight?

When is enough enough?

How many bodies that are too many to count, no place to bury, and tears from loved ones?

Will they ever be satisfied with the "other" being gone? Much like that Great Replacement Theory of the far right MAGA folks in this country that have a deep-seated fear of a browning nation, their satisfaction will never become because their hatred finds new targets.

They came for so many and so many were silent and then they came for you, who will speak?

I don't have words.

I'm sorry.

I mourn.

I weep.

And I hold onto love.

To love you like my brother and my sister.

To see you in your brokenness.

To hold you in your pain.

That is what we are called to do as sojourners on this earth.

Because the alternative only gives us what we have seen over the past week, and it is unbearable.

©October 14, 2023. All Rights Reserved by Antona B. Smith. Wee hours musing sipping a latte before homecoming with hundreds of young college students hoping for a brighter day.

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