[ by Charles Cameron — peace as photo op, peace as common grief — Tears of Gaza, poetry of Rumi — second in a series ]
There are, it seems to me, Israelitarian reasons to be terrified by and / or furious with those who lob rockets at them, and most recently at their nuclear facility at Dimona. There are, it seems to me, Palestinitarian reasons to be terrified by and / or furious with those who rain down airstrikes on them, killing among others 4 kids playing on a beach — all from the same family, and aged 8 to 10 years old …
Grief, it seems to me, is the humanitanian — no, the human — response.
I have to admit the upper of these two images leaves me cold and uncomfortable: it seems so clearly posed, with the two flags conveniently present as props. Perhaps, even, it comes from the same studio in Southern California that was used to fake the moon landing, all those many years ago — the Studio of the Unreal?
The lower of the two images, however, strikes me as authentic — two men whose grief at the loss of a son and a nephew transcends the dividing wall across which their families’ lives were bandied like pingpong balls…
Grief, not propaganda, is the human response.
Israelitarian, Palestinitarian — these are ugly words, and I hope not to use them again. But they light up for me the ugliness of their sibling, humanitarian — a word that, it seems to me, distances us from human possibility.
Israelis, Palestinians, these — and so many others around the globe in what we term “conflict zones” — are humans.
It is humans who die or bleed, humans who feel, one by one, on these occasions of horrific personal loss, the grief.
Perhaps then we can set aside considerations of nationality and fury, and watch the trailer for Tears of Gaza, as we may watch Restrepo, for the humanity of the humans portrayed:
It was the soundtrack which brought me to the Tears of Gaza video:
The song is Jalaluddin Rumi‘s — the words, so strange to our ears in the context of Gaza, then and today — yet also transcendent, also deeply human:
Since the atoms are dancing!
Out of joy,
because of whom
the celestial sphere
and the atmosphere
into your ear
that is in the air
and the plains,
look well at it
because like us
it is enraptured.
sun of joy.
Translation courtesy of Dr Alan Godlas of the University of Georgia, who very kindly pointed me to the soundtrack, and thus also to the documentary itself.
Dr Godlas responded to my questions with these notes:
That person = probably a reference to the Prophet (pbuh), as in the hadith qudsi, where God says (addressing the Prophet “Were it not for you, were it not for you, I would not have created the universe.”
The reference to the sun is probably Shams-e Tabrizi and also the perfect human sun-like essence within us, which reflects God.
Shams — whose name means “the sun” — was Rumi’s teacher, to whom many of Rumi’s poems were addressed.
Next up: Human reasons for sympathy: a DQ in the Wild