Category Archives: Against War

Ramola D/Constant Comfort: A Story for Gaza

Story | Ramola D |November 15, 2019

This story was written many years ago, after bombs dropped on Gaza at the end of 2008 and into and past the New Year, when whole families were killed, when apartment complexes were demolished, when children taking refuge in UN schools and compounds were targeted for evisceration, when phosphor bombs and depleted uranium were reported in the news, when Israel said it was the fault of Hamas, when Obama said the “security of Israel” was “sacrosanct.”

Israeli Massacres: A Brief and Shocking History/Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss.net/If Americans Knew

That Gaza Massacre of 2008-2009 was repeated in 2012, in 2014.

Israeli Massacres: A Brief and Shocking History/Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss.net/If Americans Knew

Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights wrote then, in July 2014, while once again the international community of governments did nothing to sanction or stop Israel: “As with earlier massive Israeli military operations carried out against the people of Gaza 2008-2009, and 2012, the defenceless Gazan population is again being cruelly victimised. If an adversary of the West was behaving as Israel has since July 8, it would be branded an aggressor whose leaders would likely be held accountable before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or some other tribunal with the authority to prosecute persons accused of international crimes which have distressed the US government and its allies.” 

During that summer, award-winning novelist Ru Freeman (author of A Disobedient Girl, On Sal Mal Lane) began work on an extraordinary anthology of writings, poetry and prose, non-fiction and fiction from American writers communicating in a group on Facebook and others she knew or contacted, on the subject of Israel and Palestine.

Oregon Books/Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine

As she wrote later in her foreword to Extraordinary Rendition, published in 2015 by Oregon Books, where this story was first published in very partial excerpt:

“The impetus to ask a group of writers to reflect on the ongoing assault on the thin and shifting borders of Palestine, and the people who are confined to that tenuous landscape, became impossible to set aside in the face of the 2014 assault on Gaza, an assault in which Israel claimed it hit 5,226 targets within the 139 square miles that constitute Gaza, and one which left 2,104 Palestinians killed, including 495 children, and 10,626 injured, many critically. Parallel to the bombing of Gaza was the simultaneous incursion into Palestinian neighborhoods in the West Bank which went unmentioned in the American press. It resulted in the largest land-grab by Israel since 1948, with the seizure of $3.5 million worth of Palestinian property within and surrounding Jerusalem. In the face of such numbers, and the fact that we as Americans, willingly or not, fund the perpetration of such violence through our taxes, but more so by our silence, I felt that we needed to confront the reality that Cunard articulated in 1937: it is impossible any longer to take no side.”

Ru Freeman, Foreword, Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine

Image from Twitter/Nov 14, 2019

In the last few days from November 12 to the present date, the 15th, news has trickled in through the silence of larger media about the bombs being dropped on defenseless families, about whole families killed, about babies and children and youth being murdered again in Gaza. Many have woken today to the pointless horrors of war, to the one-sided nature of the attacks on Gaza, where those who seek even minimally to defend Gaza are made impotent by the ferocity and disproportionality of the force used against them.

Image from Twitter/Nov 13, 2019

I received news of the Gaza bombings this week from Twitter, from various sources, a few vital ones below.

 

I am as saddened, as disheartened as all of us witnessing these massacres or hearing about them from continents away, while our own Western governments pour money and ammunition and protective policy support into the bottomless pit of Israel’s budget for bombs to kill babies and their mothers and fathers. I have some thoughts on what could be done, internationally, to address these actions by Israel, to stop this carnage–I will publish them shortly.

For today, I offer my story “Constant Comfort” in full, dedicated to the people in Gaza–rejected by many literary magazines in the USA, no doubt because many have a strong Israeli or Zionist supremacist faction installed in-house, as much of US literary and news publishing unfortunately does, I have learned–and part of a collection of stories on war and children I hope to complete soon. (Publishers are welcome to contact me for this collection if interested: ramolad@everydayconcerned.net.)

I send my prayers to the people in Gaza: May this incredible siege on your lives come to an end. May Israel’s Occupation and targeting end soon. May people  worldwide wake up and take significant action. Millions of us worldwide who care about humanity send our love.

Constant Comfort – Ramola D – PDF

***

Constant Comfort

by

Ramola D

 

Tender Spaces

               Daniyah was sucking a sweet red cherry lollipop when the ceiling caved in on her, the weight of several stories of concrete, brick, mortar, and steel whistling down to avalanche on her skull, so her hand involuntarily released the lollipop stick and her lungs, choking with fine grey dust, released the world. A breath had passed, maybe two, in which, believing she was still alive, she had raised her lollipop hand to the back of her skull where the wrenched concrete slab which had once held up a bedroom wall had impacted, and incomprehensible wads of tissue and blood leaked onto her fingers, and dripped into the tender spaces between her fingers. She withdrew her hand, marveling at the stickiness of life, the ease with which parts of the body could crack blindly open, spill their most secret contents, even the youthful crimson glaze streaming out of her five-year-old self thick with its own burden of wants and unwants, long threads of memories, viscous friendships, slow pools of regret.

                    The Bomb had arrived like a freight train, a tornado, a cataract, from deep inside a fighter jet. She had heard it ripping through the cauldron of space just above their building in Gaza, hissing its intent as it tore open the walls. For comfort, she had been sitting on her sister Aaliyah’s bed.

                     Beyond the sound, beyond the ungainly explosion of brick and concrete in large, unmanageable confetti all around her, streamers of ash rose like cirrus and floated. Now she noticed she was still sitting on the bed although the room entire had been demolished. Debris had torqued her feet inextricably into a devil’s arabesque. Ash still rose. It feathered the shattered brick, stopped up childish nostrils, climbed the torn-open curtains, sought out the glottis of every child and settled inside the moist alveoli of childish lungs.

Come to the Ball

                     Her sister Aaliyah had been reading a book, lying on her back in bed, flipping through pages of illustrations: fairies with tall butterfly-edged wings, fairies with pixie caps, fairies rising out of flowers, their legs stemmed and petalled, their thighs subsumed in bright corollas. Laboriously, words being sounded: She whispered to him, it was permitted, he could come to the ball. Aaliyah held inside her mouth like an unbreachable crevasse a learning disability which had once held her back in school. Words she could not pronounce pirouetted inside her. Words whose meaning eluded her flickered like constellations visible on rare occasion through blowing cloud. Some phrases and juxtapositions flummoxed her. Often she slipped into verbal transpositions and transgressions lucid only to those, like herself, who could not read in straight lines, word upon word. Because of these matters, she had only recently learned how to read in ways that could infallibly disperse inside her the certain seeds of story. This, astonishingly, had excited her to the point of undiminished hunger. Now all she wanted to do, in between eating, sleeping and going to school, was read.

                     Seven-year-old Aaliyah was reading when the Bomb tore through the upper stories of the building and exploded in a fireball that set fifty-six rooms above them ablaze, collapsed hundreds of walls, shattered windows, and tossed numerous body parts and dreams along with lullabies for infants, fabric from curtains and clothing, house pets, once-enclosed bricks, and just-made evening dinners into the pulverized air. The book was dragged from her hands, as were her hands from herself. Parts of her limbs scorched and melted, parts of her limbs disintegrated. Her eyes, still scanning a line of text, followed the exit of her unclad feet through the newly-exploded window, into the night-lit air, into the shuddering vibration. Black smoke and white ash plumed abruptly around her, obscuring vision. Coughing, she leaned forward to tilt a cup of bedside water to her mouth, her reachings with a phantom hand suddenly visible even to herself. Bone stood out white inside a shell of macerated flesh scorched to coal on the skin. Burning dreams from floors above fell with building debris on her desecrated limbs. In the whitening that ensued, of skin, lungs, and breath, a part of her still floated on butterfly wings, wrapped in diaphanous silks and glittering with rare crystalline stones, toward a fairy ball in an enchanted forest. Other parts of her reached for parts forever gone with an unregistering insistence.

Constant Comfort

                     A long time ago, their thirty-seven-year-old father, asked by a visiting Dutch journalist, what his children meant to him—he had five of them then, and the sixth on the way—said, tentatively (he was a shy man, unwilling to draw attention to himself) in his usual, retreating way: they were a constant comfort to him and his wife. They were the creation of family succeeding the death of his own parents. Children, he explained, were the meaning of home.

Womb-Like

                     In the moment the Bomb hit, their mother, holding the seven-month-old baby, in the room furthest from the one in which the children played, had bent down to rummage beneath the bed for a new blanket for the baby’s crib. Joists crashing around her miraculously shaved a womb-like space surrounding her bent-over body. In this she froze, bent-over. The screech of matter ignited abruptly to oblivion around her cascaded, rippled, echoed. Walls crashed and fell, smoke and ash unwaveringly rose. The baby choked, she coughed, for a moment she held a still-whole hand to a still-whole mouth, deathly afraid for her children’s lives.

An Instant’s Ravaging

                     The second-youngest, three-year-old Isra, was on the carpet playing with her doll, a gangly mini-skirted Barbie with unruly golden locks, narrow lips, blue eyes, and red Mary-Jane stilettos, combing the knotted hair with a doll-brush, bending the legs sideways and forwards, backwards and back, readying her for school, she said, smoothing down the upturned sequined collar, when, in an instant’s ravaging, concrete confetti from the explosion needled through her spine and out her abdomen, crushing vertebrae, slushing together spinal fluid, blood, muscle, intestine, and intestinal contents in one gory mass that extruded beneath the doll’s golden hair and lay, for a brief moment, steaming before her eyes as the greater mass of the ceiling pounded all over her.

                     The oldest, Hadiya, was sitting by the window, staring into the deepening dusk, yellow window lights coming on all around them, dim swathe of stars above, dreaming of lean, handsome Fuad, the brother of her friend Mariam, with whom she had recently exchanged a series of letters, tentative and breathless, when she noticed the ominous congealing of sound around them, saw the fighter jet plummet and loosen its dark, silvery load of terror directly above, heard the raw Doppler crunch of its coming and going, and half-rose, shaken from her windowseat, when the end of the world sliced her sideways and with glass and metal she was blown to the center of the room, bleeding profusely from head and neck, legs paralyzed in one instant, and covered the next in the flaming, smoking debris that descended from above and kept on descending.

                     Her seventeen-year-old body slammed into the second-oldest, Malaika, the sleeping one, who had been sick that day and not ventured to school, curled in a ball on her bed, a single cotton sheet over her fourteen-year-old limbs, which boiled instantly to flame and sealed her skin at roiling temperatures into its fibrous threads, delving deep through layers of epidermis, dermis, muscle, to reach the hidden bone and surge against it. Flame, ash, bone, and shards of metal embedded. The weight of the rooms and objects above thrust onto shoulders, ribs, ankle bones. When she opened her eyes, blinking past the ash coating her lashes, weighting her lids, Malaika believed she had transformed in her dreams into a caterpillar’s tight cocoon, so fully was she encased in ashen, fallen plaster, and brick.

One Moment to the Next

                     Except for Hadiya, who had, for an instant, observed the blinding arc of terror dislodged from the roaring fighter jet, none of the girls had had an inkling of the enormity of what was about to happen to them. None comprehended what had occurred either, after it happened. The desire to move, from one moment to the next, within one’s own footprints, is rife in all of us. The girls blinked their eyes, touched their heads with shattered fingertips. Aaliyah wished to turn the page. Isra wished to clean the doll’s suddenly bloodied hair. Hadiya longed for Fuad, to reach down and lift her up to her feet. Daniyah wanted the sweet lick of cherry once more on her tongue. Malaika wanted merely to go back to sleep.

Supernatural Lift

                     Instead, they rose, five slaughtered sisters, holding their parts together, or striving to, Daniyah pushing back the mass of extruded brain and blood as best she could, Isra tucking in stringy layers of intestine, Aaliya grateful for the supernatural lift which obviated the need for limbs, the burned Malaika still able to smooth scraps of burnt skin away from mouth and eyes, Hadiya, floated above the bed with its cover of smoke cloud, still paralyzed but able to see, rotating her head, where they were heading. Stars drifted loosely above. Smoke occluded parts of the night-time sky. Lights in buildings below flickered, went out. Other Bombs were flaring fiery mushroom clouds into the sky. Other balls of smoke rose, other streamers dissipated into the weedy blue of dusk the ashen white of burning phosphorus. Low, violet hills duned to a dim horizon from where artillery shells arced destruction. Missiles flew about them, bodied and silvered, making the air sing. Everywhere, cries could be heard, of people attacked or bereaved, of fear or terror, of unstoppable grief, first plainly, then muffled, as great heights intervened between their bodies and the earth. Date palms and olive trees, for a moment so close, diminished in size steadily until miniscule rivets of green waving timidly from below were all that was left.

                     Now clouds approached, and more of them, fluffed-up columns and roofs and porticos of silk-shower cloud, endless galloping battalions of styrofoam cloud, stained the colors of battle—blood-red, earth-brown, gunmetal-grey. Cool mist dampened burned skin as swiftly the ascending children pierced layers of soaring cloud, into a sudden vertical sea of calm. Night skies stretched out here, starry and clear. Now they could hear the thrum of the speeding jet, the singular roar of powerful engines already past the sound barrier and booming their shifted velocity into the violet atmosphere. Their bodies lifted naturally toward the sound and dusk-lit metal sight of it, sleek, tearing beauty of the long-nosed jet, the very one which had discharged its artillery over their building, and so easily secured their death.

Sand Angel

                     As she rose, Daniyah felt as if she were floating on sea-green waves on a safe golden beach lit with evening sun. Around her shone white cone shells, narrow spirals of rose-petal augers, softer bluegray coquinas, half-buried in the sugary sand. She made wide arcs with her arms and thrust fingers into the half-damp sand and let the blue heavens pour liquid honey on her skin. She remembered the horses by the water, and the children flying kites, and the sound of laughter. She remembered how often her father would take the children to the beach near Dayr-al-Balah. She tasted sweet nut and honey confections in her mouth, crunch of roasted peanuts, long, strawed sips of fresh mint lemonade. They had often used to picnic on the beach, in the days when it cost less to get there.

                     She rose from the sand angel she had made and ran forwards, into the water. The feel of it on her feet smooth and foamed, a spread of coolness, like vanilla icecream melting in the mouth. She held her sister Isra’s hand, drew her to the water. Ancient Mediterranean seas rolled long toward them and back, gently in thinning waves and foaming forward in sudden gushes. Long she gazed at their side-by-side buried feet in the sand, tiny bits of shell that hid between their toes, scraps of seaweed that touched their ankles.

                     Slowly the sun was going down. Everything—sand, water, shells—was glistening a mother-of-pearl pink.

Paper Houses

                     From the sheer glass of his bubble canopy in the speeding F-16, the thirty-eight-year-old IDF pilot, Raphael Even-Zahav gazed steadily into the future: clear navy skies to left and right, starry foam of the Milky Way above, distant surround of coastline, dune, city lights, white memories of clouds below. These long-gone clouds had come already between his past and his future, or so he believed. He was flying at thirty-six thousand feet and climbing. Behind him sat his buddy, thirty-nine-year-old Doran Ben-Ami, with whom he had grown up on the same street in Tel Aviv and with whom he had trained once at flight school. A long time ago, they had been boys together, flying paper houses on strings. Now they were IDF men in fighter planes, several years of frenzied adulthood behind them.

                     Many things having happened in those years.

                     Raphael had married, had one child, divorced. A bitter divorce, with his wife refusing joint custody, citing abuse. In the throes of ego and passion, he had hit her once or twice. Raised his voice to her, that was only as much as he had grown up with, from his father. Never hit the child. Didn’t drink that much. Combat pilots had more sense than that. But he’d come home late a couple times, drunk. After the baby, things had wrenched apart between them. She said she had no time to herself, all day at home with the baby. He had laughed. After the baby, he thought, she’d had no time for him. She had gone off to America, to live with her mother in New York. From seeing his baby girl everyday, he saw her once in two or three years. His wife remarried, had other kids. He had never wanted to marry again. He lived in a one-bedroom apartment and changed his girlfriends when they mentioned any possibility of future. Raphael, whose name meant Angel, did not practice being angelic.

                     Doran was not that much different, although he had not married young, like Raphael. He married in his early thirties and his first child, Aviva whose name meant Springtime, had been mown down at age six by a bunch of drunken men in an oversized SUV on New Year’s Eve, two streets from their home, near a neighbor’s house. He had a second child, she was two then. But the marriage cracked and splintered. Too much grief can paralyze, he learned. His wife became depressed. He stayed out with Raphael in bars. There were nights the two-year-old was not fed, nights he came home to nonstop crying and frantic searching in the refrigerator for something to give the child. It was a relief when his wife’s sister took the child and his wife in to live with her in Haifa.

Children, Sitting

                     Raphael did not witness the steady rising because his eyes were on the upper skies. But he was the first to notice the motley crowd of figures on the nose of the fighter jet, as the girls sailed onto the smooth curved fuselage and wedged themselves in upon its metal curve. He rubbed his eyes, he had been awake until the wee hours the night before, prey to his latest curse, insomnia. The round, childish figures did not dissolve or disappear. A mirage of paper lanterns, he thought at first. Light reflected into shapes of conch shells. Desert pottery. Dolls. From this he progressed. Not mirages of dolls but dolls themselves? The figures had childish limbs. Children, he saw finally, his mouth inside the oxygen mask agape. Small children. Teenagers. And the masses attached to parts of their heads, stomachs, chests, were body parts, extruded. That was blood, in jagged streams. That was skin, burnt and mixed-in with flesh. That was bone he saw, and brain, and the insides of a person’s guts. That was stiffening and rigor mortis, the waxen look of death.

                     That was a small group of children, sitting where no-one could sit, forty thousand feet above the earth’s crust, in icy cold, thrust forward at tremendous speed, on the nose of his fighter jet. All dead.

                     His hands slipped on the throttle then, disbelief pocking holes in him. His entire body, clad in his heavy G-suit, tingled. But he was a combat pilot, trained to take evasive action. Doran, he called. Doran!

                     Doran, who had been momentarily asleep and dreaming of space travel, white-hot neutron stars, cold burn of space, jerked his head up and saw Aaliyah, reading a book, streaks of red pouring down her forehead. Behind her, stars glittered. Aviva, he whispered. Are you here?

A Vision for a Day

                     When the Bomb had fallen, its target guided by lasers, its moment of release planned and executed with supreme precision, a small jerk had rocked the aircraft for a small period of time, smaller than a minute. Then the Bomb had plunged, the noise of its going masked by the tremendous thrust of the engine and afterburners. Visually, a large occluding mass of metal became a sleek and noiseless silver shape lit by the rays of the dying sun, a plummeting noiseless bird, a rapid speck, erasure. The jet thundered forward. All things below seeming to happen in slow motion, in a world of no sound, so distant a world, untouched and untouchable by the two motionless bodies in the Bomber jet. The roiling fireball, rounder and larger than any synagogue. The tremendous plumes of smoke. The dust and cloud of explosion. The building flattened. All sealed in a capsule of silence. Over Raphael’s shoulder and below the plane’s landing wheels it hung, jeweled in an upward-arcing container of space, the remote, unfurling Target.

                     He was a fighter pilot, he did not need to hear the sound or see the explosion. The discharge was smooth, anticipated, on plan. The sight was a bonus, and always surreal, as if it were happening in another dimension. It was a vision for a day, and then to be forgotten. In his career, his cachet of wars, sorties, target airstrikes, he had seen many of them.

                     But this—what was this?

                     Do you see it, he asked Doran.

                     Yes, said Doran, briefly.

                     He did not know what Doran was seeing. He wanted someone to explain the vision to him. What is it, he fumbled, what are we looking at?

                     Doran was silent for a long minute.

                     Beats me, he said, finally.

A Layer of Happiness

                     Meanwhile, the girls dreamt.

                     Isra, gathered up in a cloud of pink frosting, was dreaming of birthday cake: fresh pineapple on a bed of cream sandwiched between soft vanilla sponge cake.

                     Malaika was swimming in shining blue ripples in a lake. Snow geese swooped above her, and swans gracefully bent long necks as they floated.

                     Their parents were not far. Hadiya, dazzled by textures and colors, was shopping with her mother for her eighteenth birthday, they were hand in hand in a large department store, they were choosing transparent, flyaway scarves. Aaliya, lost in dream, was reading a story to her father, sitting in a wicker chair, rocking on the balcony. A story with unicorns and spiny-tailed dragons and princesses growing long yellow hair.

                     Every dream had music or singing in it, a layer of happiness. The Wiggles were singing in Isra’s dream, about Dorothy the Dinosaur. Wild birds in Malaika’s.

Positive Gs

                     Suffice to say they tried everything. They thrust vertically up, the positive Gs almost flinging them backward so they were forced to press their legs together, embark on the Hick maneuver, tensing legs, thighs, abdomen, to keep the blood from constricting in their lower parts, and send it back up to the head. They did a roll, an inverted roll, a sashay to the right, left, forward, back, they spiraled, did a spin, a torpedo, a cache of spins.

                     The girls clung stubbornly to the nose and seemed indeed to find no trouble in doing so.

                     None wobbled or slipped or dropped.

                     Each, engaged with her own particular trouble, smoothing a coil of intestine back into place, or reconstructing cerebellum and nerve ends from indiscriminate mass, seemed absorbed, and unconcerned about the plane’s repeated, desperate maneuvers.

                     Raphael plunged a ninety-degree plunge. Nothing happened, save for the loss of his own equilibrium, a wave of nausea. Then one upward. Positive G again.

                     He wanted to duck. He wanted to wake up. He wanted, irrepressibly, to clamber out of the cockpit and onto the plane, crawl to the nose, and push them off, even as he felt melancholically certain he could never push them off. He wanted most of all, not to have to look upon them, for the sight of the unlined, ravaged faces, the dripping blood, the silent masks of death, was making him think of things he had never before contemplated nor indeed been asked to. Was this truly the Bomb’s doing? Had these kids come from that ball of flame and coal-colored smoke he had created? He felt tormented, and shook his head, even as he oscillated the plane, climbed steep, banked, turned, plunged, all in an effort to shake them off. He wanted not to think about it. He would not think about it.

                     Doran, behind him, shouted instructions. He too, wanted the sky clean once more, the nose cleaned off, the children gone. They needed to land, he thought, they needed to get at that nose with a hefty broom.

Baby-Hands

                     Behind Daniya’s head, her hair now sticky with blood, her brain tissue recalcitrant in its determined slide downward onto her neck, a trillion stars shone. Distant nebulae cast a faint halo around the tangle of sticky blood, brain, and hair that now jointly adorned her neck. Her body distorted into an unimaginable curve. The burned, mutilated Aaliya painful to look upon. Burnt, her face unrecognizable as human. Eyeholes peering out from a jelly of flesh and skin. One step from the cockpit, legs drawn up, as if in the middle of some gymnastic curl, her feet and ankles nonexistent, the bloodied stumps with raw glimpses of bone—Raphael shivered, looking. The sight of Isra worse: the damaged spine, the central part of her three-year-old body burst open like a flower to reveal the intimate, unflowerlike insides of abdomen, blood pooling in abandon, smooth pool of blood on the steel dark enough to reflect starlight back upward into the black canopy of space. Hadiya could not move. Raphael observed the two halves of her existence—the upper bloodied and broken, the lower bound as we are bound to earth, flopping like a wounded seal on her side, stuck like a harpooned fish. And the burned Malaika, whose sheet, half-welded to her skin, rose like a wing around her, studded with reddest flesh, reddest blood, gray matter of nerves and cells, stringy white muscle, coated with ash and concrete debris.

                     It was the look of the trusting, questioning child in all their faces, underneath the blood and burning, the soft peach-bloom of child-skin, the tender, growing ungainliness of child-limbs, that proved, in the end, his undoing. Swept on a tide of unprecedented need, Raphael experienced a passionate yearning to see his own eleven-year-old daughter in New York again, touch her soft child-face with his hands, reassure himself she was still alive.

                     He fumbled with the joystick but hardly knew what he was doing.

                     The sky pulsed in front like a neutron star. The breath scraping him raw in the throat.

                     Raphael spoke urgently to Air Control.

                     He needed to land, he said, Abort Mission. There were other Bombs to be dropped, other Targets to be found. He could not drop them, could not find them. Because he appeared to have some trouble getting his message across to his commanders, he found himself screaming. He could not fly this plane, he screamed, which, across the distant airwaves, arriving in a darkened Control Tower, proved at least materially comprehensible. Less so his second announcement, delivered in tones of high-pitched panic: He could not get rid of the dead children!

                     Behind him, Doran was seeing once more the crushed face of Aviva, his six-year-old Spring. The pain he had withheld for years, the stowed-away, stepped-on pain, rushed to his head like sudden blood. Aviva, he cried, my Aviva, why did you have to leave us! Memories of her baby-face, her toddler-face, her little-girl face, her pouty, three-year-old “big-girl” face swept through him.

                     When she was two, she had used to jump and stamp her feet when met with the word “No.” When she was three, she was still sticking out her lower lip when she cried. When she was four, she was singing Honey Honey and Mamma Mia from the Abba movie remake.

                     She had wanted to be a ballet dancer, a child actress like Shirley Temple, a fighter pilot like Daddy. She had wanted to be a baker of frosted cupcakes, a fashion designer, a model like Mommy. She had wanted to sing like Taylor Swift and act like Marilyn Monroe. She danced without thought at folk music festivals and open-air concerts. She held wildflowers up to her face as if they were the greatest creations on earth. She had wanted to fly to the moon.

                     And her baby-laugh! He heard once more the crazy, tinkling tones of her baby-laughter the first time he leapt, lion-like, into the room when he had pretended to mimic the animals in Lion King. Her baby-hands, curled comfortably in his. My baby, he wept, oh my baby, where are you now?

                     Each child on the plane’s placid, speeding nose rose damply into view.

                     Doran Ben-Ami remembered his angel, and wept.

Cast Lead

                     Now dropping rapidly, the children did not move.

                     When the plane halted, an emergency landing on an emergency runway in a remote airport, lights flashing, fire engines thrumming, ambulances at hand, the entire cabinet of the government waiting on the runway, including the prime minister, the media held back by police, news of the situation on the fighter jet having spread already to news rooms, web sites, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Droids, Raphael Even-Zahav and Doran Ben-Ami, dazed, faces wet with tears, able to speak only in jumbled fragments, were led away toward psychologists.

                     Aircraft maintenance technicians, firemen, police, cabinet members could all now see what they had flown with: on the F-16’s aerodynamic nose, the twitching tableau of five dead girls, unconcerned by observers, striving to stitch themselves together with their own dead hands or memory of hands, absorbed in this.

                     The plane was hustled into a hangar, select elite from the IDF summoned. Everyone stood back, and the soldiers in a group, with some hesitation, approached the children. One reached out, touched a child, leapt back as if stung or burnt, screaming, They are alive, they are alive! This the others confirmed. Multiple hands reached to touch. The children appeared to be made of flesh, of human blood and bone.

                     It is not possible, said the members of the cabinet.

                     These are apparitions, said other members of the cabinet. Chimeras.

                     Others did not speak, having no explanation.

                     Feel for yourself, said the soldiers, who had retreated.

                     Confirm-kill! shouted the top shot in the crew of the elite.

                     The prime minister sent him a nod, the top gun stepped forward and pointed his weapon at the children. He fired, once, twice, five times, at the tender, bloodied foreheads. There was still movement. He pointed his gun at hearts: once, twice, five times. Still movement. Again he fired, at heads, hearts. Nothing happened. The group of preoccupied children remained oblivious to every new violence.

                     Because of what they perceived as unnatural, the people in the hangar had, imperceptibly, started to move back from the plane.

                     The soldier was still firing, compulsively, at the children. One member of the cabinet spoke, his voice like cast lead: Tell him to stop, he said. Tell him it is not possible to kill a dead child.

                     This plane must be condemned, said a technician, speaking his thoughts aloud.

                     Where are the pilots? The prime minister called for back-up. Where are the techs? We are not condemning any planes. Arm the jet, he directed. Fly the plane. Make those targets!

                     Those among the pilots who felt they could fly the plane along with its supernatural cargo came forward. Those among the crowd who had seen the obvious signs of violent death on the children yet could carry the sight inside their craniums and not break, as Raphael and Doran had done, returned to their work.

                     There is no time to waste, said the commander of the armed forces. We must return to the Bombing.

Night Journey

                     From another life, that evening, on television, Raphael witnessed the removal of five burned and mutilated bodies from the wreckage of a building. They were the bodies of children, and he did not have to see their faces to recognize them. One father, one mother, and one baby wept and threw themselves on the ground. My children, cried the father. My girls, wept the mother. The father explained what the names of each girl meant, in Arabic. My Daniyah is Close or Near. My Aaliya is Exalted. My Isra is Night Journey. My Hadiya is Gift. My Malaika is Angel.

                     The bodies were wrapped, over and over in white cloth.

                     At that moment, Doran spoke to his wife on the telephone, asked for his second child, Meira, whose name, in Hebrew, meant Illuminates.

                     A father belongs with his child, he said.

                     Above the city, the F-16 rose, gaining height. The five dead children held on in starlight, blood streamed down their bodies. The new soldiers manning the jet looked through and past them. Then the jet dropped its fresh cargo on the besieged city, another Bomb exploded.

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                     Constant Comfort: Copyright: Ramola D.

John W. Whitehead/The Rutherford Institute: “War is a Grisly Business, a Horror of Epic Proportions”

Re-posted with thanks from The Rutherford Institute, an opening excerpt from John Whitehead’s commentary on war for Memorial Day, reminding us about the horrors and many pointless deaths and injuries of war, and offering a list of war films to watch, exploring the psychological, surreal, social, managerial and other aspects of war. (Just commentary below, please visit there for the list.)

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Memorializing the Horrors of War with 10 Must-See War Films

By John W. Whitehead
May 27, 2016

“The horror… the horror…”—Apocalypse Now (1979)

“You can’t show war as it really is on the screen, with all the blood and gore. Perhaps it would be better if you could fire real shots over the audience’s head every night, you know, and have actual casualties in the theater.”—Sam Fuller, film director and author

Hiroshima, 6 agosto 1945: lo scoppio della bomba atomicaNearly 71 years ago, the United States unleashed atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 individuals, many of whom were civilians.

Fast forward to the present day, and President Obama—the antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has waged war longer than any American president and whose legacy includes targeted-drone killings and at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror—is paying lip service to the victims of America’s nuclear carnage, all the while continuing to feed the war machine.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex. Since 9/11, we’ve spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Adding in our military efforts in Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $4.4 trillion. Even now, the war drums are sounding as Obama prepares to deploy U.S. troops on a long-term mission to Libya and continues to police the rest of the world with more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries.

To this end, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, and the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays such as Memorial Day, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military.

Yet war is a grisly business, a horror of epic proportions. In terms of human carnage alone, war’s devastation is staggering. For example, it is estimated that approximately 231 million people died worldwide during the wars of the 20th century. This figure does not take into account the walking wounded—both physically and psychologically—who “survive” war.

War drives the American police state. The military-industrial complex is the world’s largest employer. War sustains our way of life while killing us at the same time. As Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges observes:

War is like a poison. And just as a cancer patient must at times ingest a poison to fight off a disease, so there are times in a society when we must ingest the poison of war to survive. But what we must understand is that just as the disease can kill us, so can the poison. If we don’t understand what war is, how it perverts us, how it corrupts us, how it dehumanizes us, how it ultimately invites us to our own self-annihilation, then we can become the victim of war itself.

War also entertains us with its carnage, its killing fields, its thrills and chills and bloodied battles set to music and memorialized in books, on television, in video games, and in superhero films and blockbuster Hollywood movies financed in part by the military.

War has become a centerpiece of American entertainment culture, most prevalent in war movies.

War movies deal in the extremes of human behavior. The best films address not only destruction on a vast scale but also plumb the depths of humanity’s response to the grotesque horror of war. They present human conflict in its most bizarre conditions—where men and women caught in the perilous straits of death perform feats of noble sacrifice or dig into the dark battalions of cowardice.

War films also provide viewers with a way to vicariously experience combat, but the great ones are not merely vehicles for escapism. Instead, they provide a source of inspiration, while touching upon the fundamental issues at work in wartime scenarios.”

Please continue reading at The Rutherford Institute.

Carl Herman/Washington’s Blog: Clintons, Bush, Obama stand on ~500 million innocent dead from intentional wars & poverty: a pile of bodies equal to 23 NYC ‘Freedom Towers,’ and adding another every year. Arrests are when now???

Re-posted from Washington’s Blog, with thanks. Please visit there on an ongoing basis for fearless investigative reportage with a focus on the real Truth of what is going on in the USA and the world.

I post this highly detailed and informative article with intent.  Did you know:

The everyday American knows that the face presented by a warring government to the world is not the real face of who we are, as Americans. We are an awakened, conscientious, and conscious people who cannot anymore condone acts of war and exploitation committed abroad—and at home—in our name, and in the false name of American “Freedom”.

We Must call for the arrest of criminals in high places who continue to commit crimes every day of exploitation, war, injustice, weapons-testing, and experimentation on us. We must call Crime Crime, and not commit it to oblivion, as mainstream media encourages us to do. We must report to the whole world that criminal actions committed by governments in our name and against us do NOT have our consent.

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dollartower

“Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

▪ murder;

▪ extermination;

▪ enslavement;…

▪ the crime of apartheid;

▪ other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

International Criminal Court (ICC)

This article documents that since Bill and Hillary Clinton occupied the White House over 23 years ago, ~500 million human beings have died from preventable poverty. So-called “developed nations” have promised to end global poverty since 1969; an accomplishment with technically easy solutions for sustainable human economic needs. These nations’ “leaders” have reneged on all promises to end poverty, public and private, despite an investment of just 0.7% of GNI for ten years that is overwhelmingly supported by those nations’ citizens.

We can calculate the physical volume of 500 million bodies. If we assume an average human dimension of 5 feet tall, average width of 1 foot, and average depth of .5 foot, this average is 2.5 cubic feet, with total of 1.25 billion cubic feet. The dimensions of NYC’s One World Trade Center, the “Freedom Tower,” is 200 x 200 feet with a roof 1,368 feet high. If we just calculate its volume as a rectangular prism, we have a volume of ~55 million cubic feet.

This means the pile of human bodies killed by ongoing preventable poverty is roughly equal in size to 23 “Freedom Towers.”

This is also roughly equal to a new “Freedom Tower” of dead bodies added to this “monument” every year.

Important to our essential question of when public demand for arrests will break through in an Emperor’s New Clothes relative moment, the related crime of creating what we use for money only and always as debt payable to the private banking system (think adding negative numbers forever) now adds a trillion dollars of US federal government debt every year. This physical volume of $100 bills is roughly equal to twice the size of the Statue of Liberty, as sharply visualized in this 2-minute video from Demonocracy:

The policy “developed” and “former” colonial nations deliver to humanity rather than ending poverty is war.

Among hundreds in alternative media, I document illegal US/UK/Israel lie-started and illegal Wars of Aggression that continue hundreds of years of psychopathic would-be empires, now focused on Syria.

We’ve documented and proven that US “officials” outrageously lie to demonize Russia (and here) acting at the request of Syria’s government for military operations within their own borders against rogue terrorists. These terrorists apparently are agents of the US/UK/Israel illegal Wars of Aggression for empire (also here, here, here).

Global polling proves demand for these “leaders’” arrests are near: the US is recognized as Earth’s greatest threat to peace; voted three times more dangerous than any other country.

The data confirm this recognition:

The categories of crime include:

  1. Wars of Aggression (the worst crime a nation can commit).
  2. Likely treason for lying to US military, ordering unlawful attack and invasions of foreign lands, and causing thousands of US military deaths.
  3. Crimes Against Humanity.

Such crimes OBVIOUSLY call for legal arrests of “leaders” in government and corporate media (for “covering” those crimes with easily verified outrageous lies).

An arrest lawfully stops a crime in commission. We do this to stop public harm now, and avoid further harm from more criminal acts.

In just 90 seconds, former US Marine Ken O’Keefe powerfully states how you may choose to voice “very obvious solutions”: arrest the criminal leaders (video starts at 20:51, then finishes this episode of Cross Talk):

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Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.

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Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Source: Washington’s Blog

Eva Bartlett/The Richie Allen Show: I’m Back From Syria, The Media Are Lying To You

Re-posting this video (link below) with thanks, from The Tap Blog. Thanks also to Jean of Co-Creating Our Future on Planet Earth for posting this link.

Terrific, must-listen witness testimony from an independent freelance journalist, Eva Bartlett, post long sojourns in Syria (her first visit was in April 2014), traveling, and speaking to people in various cities and areas devastated by bombing and terrorism. Her intention, she notes, was to listen to what the people in Syria had to say, as opposed to the corporate narrative promulgated by corporate Western media. “As you know the corporate narrative totally ignores the will of the Syrian people, and they take representatives from exile or Saudi-backed representatives as word of the Syrian people.”

“The people in Syria understand that what is happening in Syria is a foreign war (a NATO-alliance war) on Syria designed to topple their government and serve certain agendas, and the agendas of certain neighboring countries such as so-called Israel, and they adamantly support their government, their President, and their Syrian Arab Army.” She goes on to describe the devastation she has witnessed from the terrorism of car-bombings and rocket-launchings in civilian areas in Damascus, Aleppo, and other places, where she says residents are being “punished for not taking the corporate side of this foreign war on Syria.”

“My main intention is to bear witness and to transmit what Syrians tell me, what they want the world outside to know of what is actually happening here.” Later she notes that the Government of Syria is not starving civilian populations in various cities,  as reported in mainstream news, it is the terrorists who are doing so,  the Government is in fact making food and power supplies available to the people. She is aware that corporate media are spinning a completely different narrative, and reports what she has seen on the ground that contradicts this corporate media narrative. The Government is also not gunning down unarmed protesters, as has been reported in mainstream media, she says; she recommends news analysis by Professor Tim Anderson on this subject, which documents and refutes these reports as lies. 

In answering listeners’ queries, she also notes that human rights groups in the UK are being used as front groups to quite possibly send more arms to the terrorists who are waging war on the Syrian civilian population, and who are obtaining funds from deceived UK residents. She notes the manipulated death of Serena Shims, possibly by Turkish Intelligence; Serena Shims was  the young television journalist who was documenting the flow of weapons via Turkey into Syria–other reports since then, she says, have noted this flow of weapons into Syria, also across the large Iraq border. Additionally Western planes have, more than five times, “accidentally” dropped supplies into terrorist faction camps, who range beyond Daesh to many groups, she notes.

This is an absolutely eye-opening interview with information unavailable in current mainstream media news that makes its way to the US. You can find updates and information on Eva Bartlett’s blog, including links to more news resources at her post on this interview.

Much gratitude to Eva Bartlett for her unflinching reportage, her delivery of the truth of what she has witnessed, and her courage in letting the truth about Syrian reality stand against deceiving corporate Western narratives that seek to, as she notes,  reinforce and promote imperialist and Zionist, war-mongering agendas.  Her voice and conviction are inspiring, and will, I can only hope, ignite more of us to stand up and speak out in courage within our own fields of experience and influence, for what is right, for peace, and for justice.

Ken O’Keefe: The Cynic is the Tyrant’s Best Friend

Ken O’Keefe, former Marine now human rights activist and outspoken on all issues that count is vocal about how important it is for each of us to drop cynicism, world-weariness, apathy, resignation, and take a stand–the future of humanity and our planet depends on us transcending obstacles in our path and speaking out and taking action to expose and end it. He spells out how the news from mainstream media inundates us each day with such overwhelming amounts of bad news that we–especially the intelligent and educated among us, it seems–escape easily into disassociation from reality and cynicism, which unfortunately becomes consent to the reality that is presented to us–“to the insane cycle of destruction and more war.” Paraphrasing loosely, “Whereas it’s us, we dreamers–or whatever they want to call us–who represent the ultimate threat to those who control this reality.” He iterates how important it is to drop cynicism, to explore the news and the world for ourselves, to demand a better reality. “If we can envision it, we can make a better world.”

I was inspired, as are probably millions of others, watching him speak, because he expresses what many of us think today. It Is up to us. Those of us who have been entrained into obedience, passivity, quiet, and inaction–by not merely the norms of our society but by the current surveillance and police state we are living in, worldwide, and also by illegitimate gag orders or National Security Letters from an illegitimate state which is acting openly to suppress dissent and opening fraudulent investigations on thousands of innocent civilians and veterans and activists, in hopes of co-opting communities and dividing communities and silencing protest–especially may want to watch this. We are most definitely at a tipping point today.

We need to each of us see that we’re inexorably heading toward more militarization, more surveillance, more policing, and more stripping of rights and liberties, and that an attitude today of keeping your head down and doing what the “government” asks–whether via National Security Letter or community-policing or anything else they say is good for us– is only serving to 1) facilitate the oppressors and 2) hasten the onset of full-blown totalitarianism. Drawing back and “choosing” not to participate–while in actuality participating by acquiescence to State programs of societal control–is nothing but giving consent to oppression.

Are you witness today to corruption…? To over-reach and abuse of secrecy powers in an Intelligence agency…? Are you aware of systemic fraud in your industry–which affects the lives of other people..? Perhaps it’s time to speak out. Please watch Ken’s speech in this 7.5 minute video from World Citizens Solutions, which is prefaced by a run-down of where we are in the world today and why we need to take a stand.

Also please visit his WorldCitizen.Solutions fundraiser page on Indiegogo and read about/help fund his new campaign to make a better world. (Another brief video there on changing the world, ending war, with inspiring words from various activists, including Sacha Stone and Ole Dammegaard, Samantha Bachman, Max Igan.) From what they say, it sounds like this campaign is about creating a new paradigm for global existence where our taxes won’t go toward funding wars, death, and destruction. Wouldn’t that be a brave new world!

Excerpt from campaign page:

Ken O’Keefe and his team are currently developing a legal and social strategic initiative that will have profound effects on releasing humanity from its current paradigm. It’s time to stand up for what you know is right. It’s time for your voice to be heard. The time is now.

Stand for those who have no voice, for those who are set to inherit what we leave behind, for our children and their children. Make a stand for real peace and real transformation. Be part of this growing movement of change and ensure a peaceful future for those you love. 

David Swanson/Washington’s Blog: Non-French War Deaths Matter

We are all France. Apparently. Though we are never all Lebanon or Syria or Iraq for some reason. Or a long, long list of additional places.

We are led to believe that U.S. wars are not tolerated and cheered because of the color or culture of the people being bombed and occupied. But let a relatively tiny number of people be murdered in a white, Christian, Western-European land, with a pro-war government, and suddenly sympathy is the order of the day.

“This is not just an attack on the French people, it is an attack on human decency and all things that we hold dear,” says U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. I’m not sure I hold ALL the same things dear as the senator, but for the most part I think he’s exactly right and that sympathy damn well ought to be the order of the day following a horrific mass killing in France.

I just think the same should apply to everywhere else on earth as well. The majority of deaths in all recent wars are civilian. The majority of civilians are not hard to sympathize with once superficial barriers are overcome. Yet, the U.S. media never seems to declare deaths in Yemen or Pakistan or Palestine to be attacks on our common humanity.

I included “pro-war government” as a qualification above, because I can recall a time, way back in 2003, when I was the one shouting “We are all France,” and pro-war advocates in the United States were demonizing France for its refusal to support a looming and guaranteed to be catastrophic and counterproductive U.S. war. France sympathized with U.S. deaths on 911, but counseled sanity, decency, and honesty in response. The U.S. told France to go to hell and renamed french fries in Congressional office buildings.

Now, 14 years into a global war on terror that reliably produces more terror, France is an enthusiastic invader, plunderer, bomber, and propagator of hateful bigotry. France also sells billions of dollars of weaponry to lovely little bastions of equality and liberty like Saudi Arabia, carefully ignoring Saudis’ funding of anti-Western terrorist groups.

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Please visit Washington’s Blog for the rest of this post.

David Swanson: Does the Pope Know a Boy Is About to Be Crucified?

Source: Does the Pope Know a Boy Is About to Be Crucified?

Please visit the source link above or the original source, Washington’s Blog, for the whole tragic story and commentary by the author, David Swanson.

Excerpt:

“Occasionally a particular variety of horror serves to catch people’s attention. The boy in the photo at right has been sentenced to be crucified. His crime wasboy participation in a pro-democracy rally. Now he will have done to him what the Pope’s religion says was done to Jesus Christ. He won’t be smiling blissfully like a Christ on a crucifix either. He will suffer immense pain and torment, and then die.

Who would do this? Why, Saudi Arabia, of course. And who is Saudi Arabia’s chief ally, weapons provider, and oil customer? Why, the United States Congress.”

Also:

“Saudi Arabia is dropping bombs, including U.S.-made cluster bombs, on Yemen, slaughtering children by the hundreds. Saudi Arabia is brutalizing the people of Bahrain, not to mention the people of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabians are funding ISIS and other murderers in the region. Are all of these murders acceptable even if the crucifixion isn’t? Or can we seize this opportunity to build opposition to all murder? Or might we if the Pope mentions it to Congress?

On Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee brought in David Petraeus to testify yet again on how to escalate more wars. Petraeus recently proposed arming al Qaeda. Senator John McCain gave Petraeus credit on Tuesday for extending the Iraq war from 2007 to 2011. Petraeus noted that the whole region is in horrible turmoil. Nobody made any connection between the U.S. wars on Iraq and Libya that have created that turmoil and the results. Nobody questioned the wisdom of using more war to try to repair the damage of war.

Well, a few of us did. The wonderful CodePink was there as always. I was there with a sign that said “Arm al Qaeda? Reagan tried that.”

The mad men who run the U.S. government have reached the point of re-arming the enemies of enemies whose blowback first drove them to radically escalate the global murder of innocent people in the name of opposing terrorism while increasing it.

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance had an answer to this on Tuesday, taking a protest of endless war and environmental destruction to the gate of the White House.

The Secret Service arrested the people in the photo below rather than accept a letter from them articulating their opposition to policies of massive cruelty to the earth and its inhabitants.”

Source: Does the Pope Know a Boy Is About to Be Crucified?

Please visit the source link above or the original source, Washington’s Blog, for the whole tragic story and commentary by the author, David Swanson.