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I very much do not want to write this email about Gaza
but humans can only live without water for 72 hours
I’m finally mostly recovering from covid. For the record, I tested positive for 18 days, and ran a fever for most of that time. For me it felt and feels more like mono than like a cold. YMMV.
In the aftermath, I’m pretty emotionally destabilized. The knives are whispering to me again, as they do. I try to get back on some kind of routine. I go for long walks in the woods. I do my yoga and my meditation. I try to put some order back into the apartment, which has been closing in around us. I want to get back to a tent in the woods, as soon as I can.
The last thing I want to do right now is write an email about Gaza.
I am a woman of many words, I said last missive, but these words stick in my throat. I want to say I am speechless, struck dumb with horror and shock and confusion, or that I don’t have anything I think it is important to say. That I don’t think I have a right or a particular responsibility to say something now. That I don’t have all the facts at hand, I don’t understand the history, I’m not there.
But that’s a lie. I do have some things I think it is very important to say. I just don’t want to say them because the risk of saying the wrong thing (and what the wrong thing is depends on who you ask) is very high. Someone will be angry. Someone will say I’m misinformed. Someone will tell me I say too much about this and too little about that.
But if I will not say these words now, at a time of great urgency, what good are all my words?
I feel like a coward, and I would rather close my laptop and forget I started writing this, I would rather say sorry, I’m crazy right now, I can’t comment on this, but I carry on, because as I write, it is 8 days now since water supplies (among other things) were shut off to Gaza. There are over 2 million people there, and 40% of them are 15 and under. They have no place to go.
Nothing I can say today, in this space, will turn back the clock and prevent the bloodshed that has already occurred, save those who are already dead. So while I have many, many thoughts and feelings about what has already happened, the words that I might say about those thoughts and feelings, how I make sense of them, are less urgent than any words I might say about things that are happening this moment and things that have not yet happened and may yet be prevented.
There are many deaths that may yet be prevented. There is much harm that is currently being done and could be stopped. I ask myself which of those harms might my words or actions stop or prevent. The answer is quite possibly none, that nobody in the world cares what I think, or, at least, nobody with any power to change anything. But any of you who have known me for a while know that I refuse to require a guarantee that what I do will make a difference, just as I refuse to believe that just because I do not see how I have made a difference that I did not.
I have so many more words, but I’m so tired right now, and so I’m only going to say the most important ones: what the Israeli state is doing now has already resulted in many deaths of Palestinian civilians, and what it says it plans to do next there will very soon result in many more if it is not stopped. I do not believe this course of action will make Israelis (including the hostages who were taken) any safer, it certainly will not make Palestinians safer, and I also don’t think it will make Jewish people or Muslim people anywhere in the world safer.
I do not know everything that should be done instead, but turning the fucking water back on would be a great fucking start.
What good does it do to tell my 200-odd subscribers that I feel this way? Maybe not much, but I am also telling my president, and my senators, and my representatives, because one reason I feel that these words are too urgent to swallow is that of all the countries in the world (besides Israel itself) I believe it is the US that has the most leverage to do something about this if there is political will.
But if I as an American Jewish woman will not tell my politicians that I am not down with the US supporting this course of action, then how should I expect them to have the political will to push harder on Israel?1
Knowing of course that the route from me sending an email and calling my elected officials to them being able to influence the choices of the Israeli state is mysterious and uncertain and my words are small and inconsequential and that I must say them anyways.
If you feel the same, and you are a US voter then I hope you too will contact your elected officials at every level and urge them to do everything they can to alleviate this disaster.
You can call your elected officials about how humans of all races and religions need water to drink without getting into arguments with your neighbors or your family members or everyone in your work slack or anyone at all on facebook or any other social network. I’m not asking you to argue, not asking you to sign a thing that will cause you to lose your job. I’m just saying, if you happen to want to tell your politicians you support their using whatever influence they have to, again, let’s just start with turning the water back on, you can just make a few phone calls and call it a day.
Of course, I obviously do not believe it is anti-Semitic for me to criticize the actions of the State of Israel just as I do not believe it is Islamophobic to criticize the actions of Hamas. I understand that some of my readers will likely feel differently, or will think I am excusing Hamas atrocities or enabling the antisemitic Left or not taking a strong enough stance against settler colonialism or not denouncing the Israeli state or not giving a full enough accounting of the entire history of the region which yes is complicated or speaking where I have no standing to speak or or or or. I can’t really help any of that.2
In this moment, one thing I do know is that a couple million Palestinians are running out of water (among other things) because of choices the State of Israel is making, and that means they will soon die, and I would like my government to pressure the Israeli government to do something else instead.3
That’s all I have to say right now. Thanks for reading, and goodbye if this means goodbye.
but amy what about pressuring Hamas to release the hostages? YES, obviously, but I don’t think my government has as much leverage there and I’m also pretty sure they’re already working on that pretty hard.
there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email. you can also write me back and tell me exactly why I’m wrong and bad, because of what I did or did not say, but I do not guarantee a timely (or possibly any) answer. I know some readers are probably hoping I will say more about Israel and Palestine because you care what I think and aren’t sure what to think yourselves, and I do have more thoughts and I will share them probably mostly by pointing you to other sources. But not today. Also if you think “but what about the terrible things the US did after September 11th in the name of fighting terrorists what did you have to say about that Amy??” I yelled about those wars and particularly about all the torture that was done in our name for YEARS and had a very active blog on the topic.
No, I don’t think turning the water back on in the south of Gaza is sufficient, which last I read the Israeli Energy minister said they were doing or would do, because I have looked at a map of Gaza, and I do not see how a million people can all at once get south to water in time to not die from lack of water, especially if they don’t have any water when they start trying to go south. Yes, I very much hope by the time you read this email they’ll have turned more of the water back on and that would be amazing. Then we can move on to how people also need to eat.