Already, Gaza has faded from the front pages of the Western press. Already it is yesterday's news, yesterday's massacre, just another in a long, long, endless line of human debauchery. After all, the Western press, the Western establishments, indeed, Western popular opinion, have often countenanced -- even championed -- far worse atrocities. The establishments and power structures of most Arab nations are also hastening to forget, to downplay, to bury, once again, the suffering of the Palestinians, in the interests of political gamesmanship, both domestic and diplomatic.The reality of the actual human beings in Palestine who have been inflicted with horrific suffering matter no more than the reality of the human beings in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Somalia, or Kurdistan, or Chechnya, or Colombia, or Sri Lanka, or Burma, or the Congo, or anywhere else on the far-flung earth where the machines of power wring the blood and terror that is their fuel from the flesh of men and women and children. (And this geography of suffering includes the sacred Homeland itself, of course, where, for example, more than two million citizens are now held in cages, most of them for the "crime" of temporarily deranging their senses to escape the pain of the world that power has made.)
What do the men and women and children of Gaza matter to these brokers and drivers of power? Why speak of Gaza -- where the relentless and ruthless Israeli assault on civilians ended almost precisely with the ascension of Barack Obama to high office -- when that newly-ascended embodiment of hope is already drawing first blood in his marshalship of the "War on Terror"? Already, Obama has ordered his first drone missile attacks on the sovereign territory of Pakistan, an American ally; already he has killed his first civilians with the faceless, soulless weapons of remote-control mass death.
What's more, the Commander-in-Chief has already overseen his first mass slaughter of civilians in Afghanistan, the land he calls "the central front in the War on Terror," where he plans to commit tens of thousands of more troops in a massive escalation of a war that his new Terror War envoy, Richard Holbrooke, now says will last longer than the Vietnam War. As MSNBC reports, none other than the U.S.-installed Afghan president himself, Hamid Karzai, condemned the killing of 16 Afghan civilians, including three children and two women, in a ground-and-air attack by U.S forces on Saturday. Escalating the conflict will mean much more of this, of course. In any case, Karzai's protests will cut no ice with the new regime in Washington; he is yesterday's man, yesterday's puppet, and his increasingly frantic and forthright denunciations of the mass slaughter of his people by American and NATO forces will not be tolerated much longer. Obama and his team are already manipulating the politics of the occupied land to ensure that a "dream ticket" of politicians beholden to Obama, not Bush, will "wrest control away from Mr Karzai," as the Independent reports.
And why not? Shouldn't the new Caesar be allowed to appoint his own men to govern his dominions?
One could also add the three Americans and 75 Iraqis killed in the empire's Babylonian province since Obama took office to the first fruits of the new leader's war-like reign. But then again, the debauchery in Iraq has been long, long forgotten, written off even by Obama himself, who proclaimed months ago that he was as one with Bush in regarding the "surge" as a "success beyond our wildest dreams."
So again, what is Gaza in the face of such a momentous event: the new Imperator (which originally meant "commander") emerging from the Temple of Mars with his face stained red with the blood of holy sacrifices? Why on earth would "serious" people want to be bothered with the suffering of worthless nobodies in some distant hellhole?
But alas, we are not "serious" here, and never have been. And so, sick, perverted and trivial as we are, we continue to look at the faces of Gaza, the living and the dead, as they stare out from the ruins.
On Saturday -- the same day that Obama was being blooded in Afghanistan -- the Guardian ran a harrowing story relating "the terrible toll on the child victims of war in Gaza." This was accompanied by several photographs, with brief stories attached. The story of the dead child shown above, Amal Abed Rabbo, age 2, is one of them. For some reason, the Guardian is not running the full accompanying text on its website, so I have filled that in from the print version:
Amal Abed Rabbo, two, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers outside her family's five-storey house in the village of Izbit Abed Rabbo, in eastern Gaza, on 7 January. Shortly after midday, soldiers from an Israeli tank ordered the family out of the house, according to her father, Khalid, 30. There was gunfire from the tank and Amal and her sister Souad, seven, were killed immediately. Another sister, Samer, four, was severely injured – she is now paralysed in hospital in Belgium. Later, the soldiers demolished the house. When she was shot, Amal was carrying her favourite toy, a brown bear, which still lay in the ruins yesterday. Khalid, a policeman under the pre-Hamas authority, said: "Israel knows very well that no one in this house belonged to Hamas. I want to know from the Israeli army: why did they kill my daughters? What have they done?"
You can find many more pictures of Gaza's suffering not only in the Guardian piece but also in these photos from As'ad AbuKhalil, the "Angry Arab."
Of course, such things aren't serious. They don't really matter. Why should you waste your beautiful mind on something like that?
Especially when you can be mesmerized by Obama's amazing "First 100 Hours," when he has already revolutionized American policy by, for example, restricting the overt use of torture to the torture techniques approved of by the Pentagon -- although his own intelligence supremo, Dennis Blair, refuses to say if "waterboarding" should be considered torture, and assures Congress that he will examine "whether certain coercive techniques have been effective"; i.e. which torture techniques should be continued. There is also Obama's bold ordering of the (eventual) closure of the Gitmo camp and the handful of CIA detention centers, while leaving alone the Pentagon's numerous and far worse gulag centers -- where thousands of Terror War captives languish without charges, representation, or the slightest legal recourse. And of course, there is his heartening decision to go to court to defend Bush's multiple rape of American liberty: the years-long illegal surveillance scheme, which Obama had voted to support while still in the Senate.
What is the lifeless body of little Amal, killed in an action defended by Obama as a legitimate act of "self-defense," in comparison to such wonders? Let her be dead and buried, and Gaza be forgotten. There is no place for such stubborn remembrances in the cool, swift flow of our New Age.
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This story was published on January 26, 2009.