Friday, January 2, 2009

The Voice that Rises at the End of a Question

Dying continues in Israel and Gaza.

"Hamas called on Palestinians in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem to mark Friday as a 'day of wrath' by holding marches after noon prayers."

“'There is no humanitarian crisis' in Gaza, [Tzipi Livni, Israel's Foreign Minister,] said, 'and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.'

"Israeli human rights groups have issued an urgent appeal to Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister, demanding that Israel restore fuel supplies to Gaza to ensure the proper functioning of hospitals, water wells and other vital humanitarian institutions."

How does one stir up wrath after praying? How is it not a humanitarian crisis when rockets and bombs launched by people are killing hundreds of people? (Livni, to be fair, has long advocated for peace and was a key figure in the movement to have the pullout from Gaza ratified by the Knesset.) How do we reconcile the fact that bombings to weaken Hamas are in fact weakening the Palestinian Authority and moderates who might be the best forgers of peace? There aren't clear answers, but there's a sadness in the air, to which perhaps the best humanitarian response is a poem:

Look: Thoughts and Dreams
by Yehuda Amichai

Look: thoughts and dreams are weaving over us
their warp and woof, their wide camouglage-net,
and the reconnaissance planes and God
will never know
what we really want
and where we are going.

Only the voice that rises at the end of a question
still rises above the world and hangs there,
even it it was made by
mortar shells, like a ripped flag,
like a mutilated cloud.

Look, we too are going
in the reverse-flower-way:
to begin with a calyx exulting toward the light,
to descend with the stem growing more and more solemn,
to arrive at the closed earth and to wait there for awhile,
and to end as a root, in the darkness, in the deep womb.

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