Friday, January 12, 2024

Special Feature: Poems Selected for South Africa’s Genocide Case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, ICJ

The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own. We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces.

Yet we would be less than human if we did so.

...all of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination; in supporting the quest for peace, security and friendship in this region.

-- President Nelson Mandela at International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People, December 4 1997

(FYI: Haaretz, March 13: South Africa to Arrest Israeli Soldiers Holding Dual Citizenship, Foreign Minister Says: IDF soldiers holding dual Israeli-South African citizenship will be subject to immediate arrest, the country's foreign minister said. The Israeli army is preparing for other that may follow suit

"I have already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and who are fighting alongside or in the Israeli Defense Force. We are ready. When you come home, We're going to arrest you," Pandor said at a conference on South Africa's solidarity with the Palestinians and the petition filed by Pretoria against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"If you think that we act in support of Palestine because of elections this year, you don't know South African history. You don't know the history of Liberation and struggle. We didn't meet the Palestinian people on October 8. We've been together in struggle for many many decades…. This is a relationship, of freedom fighters, of activists, of nations that share a history. A history of struggle for justice and freedom.")

Dear Readers and Fellow Poets:

South Africa's legal team presented their opening arguments yesterday, in which they accused Israel of genocidal acts, intent and incitement, noting violent language employed by top Israeli officials including PM Netanyahu and by IDF troops. Post-apartheid South Africa honored the moral obligation laid out by the late President Nelson Mandela, to not rest until Palestine is free (for more, see The Nation,  Jan.11: "South Africa’s ICJ Case Against Israel Is a Call to Break Free From the Imperial West:" South Africa is not only challenging Israel—it is trying to break the spell of US hegemony)

I would like to share with you the following poems for our reflection on the Israel-Hamas War:

The "New" Old Normal

we don’t ask for the moon
but for the occupation to end ...
fireball after fireball 

the blood moon
tangled in half-burnt trees
bits of clothing

smoky ruins ...
each day a new battle
for water and food

First Casualty

a time for peace
a time for war only...
a twist to PM's mouth

remember, remember
what Amalek did  ...
fireballs burst skyward

night turned into orange day
a news host laments
the most feared word, context

police phalanx
Never Again, Never Again
for everyone 

Genocide or not?
bounced back and forth between experts ...
peace candles flicker

(FYI: The title alludes to 

The first casualty, when war comes, is truth.

Hiram Johnson (1866-1945), a Progressive Republican senator in California)

And the following haiku written both for the Jewish people and for the people who care about the future of humanity

and in response to the following two remarks:

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. -- Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a)

The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis.  It is a crisis of humanity,...A graveyard for children. -- UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, V: "genocide"

genocide hearing ...
every day kills something


FYI: Haaretz, Jan. 10: 50 Holocaust Researchers Ask Yad Vashem ( Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem) to Condemn Israeli Public Discourse Calling for Genocide in Gaza

The 'incitement to extermination' heard in the words of Israeli officials and personalities 'can reach the stage of genocide,' the researches say. They're calling on Yad Vashem to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust.

Haaretz, Opinion, Jan. 22:  Yad Vashem Is Shirking Its Duty in the Face of Israeli Genocidal Rhetoric

Haaretz, Opinion, Jan. 15: ICJ Genocide Trial Showcases Israel's Collective Temporary Insanity and Vile Government

It should be mentioned that this humanitarian assistance, very aid, which was a central aspect of Israel's line of defense before the judges but actually before the judgment of the entire world, was maligned and vilified by several members of Israel's government, as an act of capitulation.

The New Yorker, Jan. 12: How Israel’s Inspection Process Is Obstructing Aid Delivery

One of the things we witnessed personally was a large warehouse filled with humanitarian goods that had been rejected at Israeli inspection points. Goods like medical kits used to deliver babies, water-testing kits, water filters, solar-powered desalinization units, tents that people said might’ve been returned because they had metal poles.

So a whole collection of rejected items that seemed purely arbitrary. And I will also say that when one item on a truck is rejected, the entire truck is turned back, and in talking to a truck driver and others we learned that some of these trucks take twenty days to go from the starting point to delivering assistance. 

Haaretz Podcast, Jan. 9: How Can We Expect Others to Empathize With Us When We Fail to Empathize With Palestinians?

Haaretz, Jan. 12: Half a Million Gazans Are Suffering From Acute Hunger. Let That Sink In
The scope of the crisis in Gaza is becoming clearer; according to the UN, Israel is creating conditions that are making life in Gaza impossible; but Israeli leaders are unbothered.

Haaretz, Jan. 30: A New Low: The Israelis Advocating to Starve the People of Gaza

For Israel's extremists, nothing is off-limits when it comes to Gaza – fighting the delivery of humanitarian aid, re-establishing Jewish settlements, human decency. But it would be a mistake to dismiss them as a fringe movement... According to Agam Institute surveys, nearly 60 percent of Israeli Jews oppose humanitarian aid – a stable figure over time.

Added: Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, VI: "death count"
written on the 100th day of the Israel Hamas War

Whoever kills one life kills the world entire

white sand beach
miles north of a refugee camp

a Gazan's first and last
apperance on the TV
bombed-out hospital

death count debate
a peace vigil stretches
into foggy night

FYI: The title is taken from Talmud:

Why was man created alone? Is it not true that the creator could have created the whole of humanity? But man was created alone to teach you that whoever kills one life kills the world entire, and whoever saves one life saves the world entire. —paraphrased from the Talmud

--Gideon Frieder, "To Save the World Entire"

FYI: Democracy Now!, Jan 10: IDF Is Using Hunger as a Weapon of War, Says Israeli Rights Group B'Tselem

Human rights groups say Israel is using starvation as a weapon in the Gaza Strip as Israel severely restricts the delivery of humanitarian aid, medicine and food supplies to millions inside the besieged and bombed territory. In a new report," Israeli human rights group B'Tselem lays out how Israel's decision to cut off electricity, water and international humanitarian aid to Gaza after a 17-year blockade against the territory has led to a very quick collapse of infrastructure. "The things that impede this provision of food for people who are starving is a declared policy by Israel," says Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem international advocacy lead. "The Israeli government is at fault, is responsible for this, and this should lead to immediate international action."

And CNN, Jan. 11Some Israeli intel officers "shocked by what they were asked to do’ in Gaza, says Israeli journalist

Bianna Golodryga speaks to Yuval Abraham, a journalist at +972 Magazine, on his investigations into how the Israeli army is operating in Gaza.

Added: Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, VII: "war after war"

war after war after Arctic blast nothing new under the sun

FYI: The Guardian, Jan. 11: ‘Brutal’ Arctic blast expected to bring frigid temperatures to North America: Extreme cold warning issued in Canada as US forecasters warn of wind chills in Texas and major snow in midwest and east coast

And according to the Geneva Academy, there are more than 110 armed conflicts in the world.

Added: This Brave New World, CXLI

fireballs bursting skyward
smell of winter air

Added: Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, VIII: "broken world"

On This Fresh Morning

just to be alive
in the broken world, my friend writes
I respond,
dying is the most alive
you'll ever feel in Gaza

with one purpose
does this war make a stone 
of the broken heart?
thousands of miles away
I ponder in a cold snap

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