Sharyn’s book tour for Gaza: Beneath the Bombs, the book based on the writings from this blog, is coming underway and regularly being added to. For up to date details, keep an eye on this page. If you want to organise a speaker event with Sharyn do get in touch.
It’s now coming up to a year since the start of the ‘Operation Cast Lead’ attack by Israeli forces on Gaza. Despite the massive weight of information in reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and of course the UN’s Goldstone Report, the siege of Gaza and Israeli aggression against the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank continue. Today, 11th December, the news broke that the British government has launched a ‘voluntary code of conduct’ for the labelling of goods from West Bank settlements, indicating that they aren’t products of Israel. But the code is, of course, voluntary, and the Israeli embassy in London has been busy complaining on the news about ‘unfair’ and ‘political’ treatment, so whether dates, cosmetics, bedlinen, sweets or many other products produced on stolen Palestinian land will still get the preferential tariffs allocated by the EU to Israeli products remains to be seen. In all likelihood they will.
Despite the continued support of most of our governments for Israel’s occupation, there are plenty of actions planned to commemorate the dead of the 22 days of bombing last December and January. In the UK, these include a vigil on 27th December in London and one in Sheffield organised by the PSC, and 22 days of vigils, pickets, awareness-raising and direct action in Manchester.
I’ve never contributed to this blog before – I won’t be doing it regularly – but I just wanted to finish by introducing myself as Sharyn’s helper on the Gaza book. My name’s Sarah and I’m a freelance writer and have been involved in Palestine solidarity with ISM, Olive Co-operative and many other organisations since 2001. It’s a privilege to be Sharyn’s friend and co-writer. And I want to leave you with a poem by the late, wonderful Mahmoud Darwish, which – written several years before the carnage of ‘Operation Cast Lead’ shows how the kind of events of which the international community has been aware since that particular attack have been regularly scarring the lives of Gazans for much longer. The poem is from his posthumous diaries and collection, A River Dies of Thirst:
The Girl / The Scream
There is a girl on a sea shore
And the girl has a family
And the family has a house
And the house has two windows and a door.
And at sea there’s a warship playing a game
of targeting those taking a stroll on the shore.
Four five seven drop to the sand.
The girl is spared by a sleeve of mist
a certain celestial sleeve came to rescue her.
She calls out: Dad, my Dad, let’s go home, this sea is not for us.
And the father does not reply.
He lies there in an agony of absence, wrapped in his shadow in an agony of absence.
Blood in her palms blood in the clouds,
Her scream flies away with her far from the sea shore and higher.
She screams in the night of a wilderness
The echo has no echo
And the girl becomes the eternal scream of a breaking news event made obsolete by the planes return
to bomb a house with two windows and a door.