Contrapuntal: Transforming Gaza
A Blog by Marilyn Garson
Reading Maimonedes in Gaza, the story of four years and two wars, has been published in hard copy by Mondoweiss!
Norman Finkelstein’s book is one exhaustive act of outraged witness. I disagree with some of his choices, but agreement is not required. I found it hugely useful as a research tool, a demand for accountability, and a response to my team’s repeated question, “What do they think we are?”
To work in UNRWA is to graft temporary relief onto an unending injustice; but the problem is the wall. Until that wall falls, Gazan’s must have access to food. Trump cannot be allowed to make hunger his weapon.
Dear fellow Progressives, you must take responsibility for the pain that is inflicted in our names. Walk out of the tent, confront this head-on, study it, take a side, and act. There is no more safe, neutral space for spectators. This violence is too debased.
I had to let go of ‘my’ nice, liberal, imagined Jerusalem. I began to ask how ‘our’ city might be built on justice. Now Trump has gifted Jerusalem to his electoral base, and the protests have begun. Will someone catalyze them with a vision of a better Jerusalem?
The blockade itself is the first anomaly of Gaza, and the immediate cause of Gazans’ suffering. That our Western governments tolerate the blockade wall is the second anomaly. The composition of our aid to the people behind that wall is the third: we bankroll the maintenance of the blockade regime. It is not true that nothing works in Gaza. The problem is that so little is tried.
If you cannot imagine living together, you have underestimated all the creativity, money, technology, infrastructure, and hard work that has been expended to keep us apart.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is no less divisive here, yet my temple responds by uniting – not fragmenting – around our Jewishness. It respects dissent as a foundational Jewish value, and comes together in prayer. Belonging is integral to Judaism; agreement is not.
Each year, Jews count fifty days of transformation to situate ourselves in time and space. In Gaza, through the fifty days of war in 2014, we counted many things.
I lived and worked in Gaza (2011 – 2015). With an extraordinary Palestinian team and a niece in Israel, I was surrounded by smart, loving young adults. None of them wanted to raise their children in a bloody cul de sac. The music of their hope was contrapuntal.
We must transform this conflict, re-think it and resolve it.
Mondoweiss has published an expanded version of my earlier story of my time in Gaza. Part of each purchase price goes to the We Are Not Numbers project, supporting Gazan writers. You can read more, and order copies here. I’m very proud that Mondoweiss has made Reading Maimonedes in Gaza the second in their forthcoming series of hardcopy publications!
There has to be a visionary alternative, a distinction between the this-worldness which doesn’t allow us to see beyond the impossible odds in power and status, and the possibility of dreaming a different dream, and seeing an alternative to all this.
To every situation, there is always an alternative.
One must train onesself to think the alternative, not to think the accepted and the status quo or to believe that the present is frozen.
Edward Said, The Pen And The Sword, 1993