Free Palestine

for better future

Struggling to stay human

MENASSAT’s Bethlehem correspondent, Fadi Abu Saada, recalls the bloody events in Gaza and their impact on the lives of Palestinian journalists.

It was past two in the morning on Wednesday February 27 when the phone woke me from my sleep. When the phone rings at this hour, it is always bad news.

“Fadi, we have five martyrs in an Israeli raid on northern Gaza. Fadi, there are martyrs and casualties in a new attack on Jabalia. Fadi, a new raid on Bet Lahia and Khan Yunis.”

What have I done for my day to start this way?

I jumped from my bed, turned on my computer, and started working without thinking.

By dawn, the number of casualties exceeded twenty.

At 7 a.m. on that doomed day, I went to the office to continue working. The bombing was getting heavier by the second, and the number of wounded and dead was rising fast. 

We knew some of the names of the martyrs but none of the wounded, for the hospitals and the paramedics were barely keeping up with treating the casualties.

The atmosphere in the office was tense all day long. Stress was apparent on the faces of the reporters, the editors and even the technicians.

Thursday was similar to the previous day. 

Despite the continuing Israeli attacks on every inch of Gaza, Friday was a bit calmer.

We were able to breathe for a while, aware that it was only a lull in the storm. This is what I have learned from previous experiences.

Within the first hours of Saturday, the fourth day of what the Palestinians called “Gaza’s Holocaust,” while the Israelis preferred “Warm Winter,” the name given to the military operation, we heard about the death of ten more Palestinian citizens. 

We talked about “Black Saturday” or “Dead Saturday,” for it was black and deadly in every respect.

Imagine our feelings when the number of deadly casualties reached more than sixty by 6 p.m. with about 150 wounded.

Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t possibly go on, so I called one of my colleagues to cover for me.

I had many reasons for this decision.

First, I was aware that I had lost my humanity in dealing with the dead, even though it was my people in Gaza dying.

Under tremendous stress, I found myself dealing with the dead as “just a matter of numbers.”

Terrified, I asked myself, “What has become of me?”

Second, I was utterly tired.

When a four-year old kid asked me what was happening in Gaza after seeing some of the footage on the news, I felt unable to answer him on this or any other matter.

How to explain what our days are like to someone who doesn’t know this place?

I could say that our days are all similar.

They start and end with one of the following words: killed, arrested, demolished, attacked, bombed;” the list of synonyms is endless.

At the end of each day, we are “psychologically sick” with an illness for which there is no treatment.

What if I tell you that we start every day knowing that it doesn’t differ from the previous one?

How are we be able to do that when our wounds are still bleeding, when there is no end in sight for our suffering?

What about our families? Do we give them the same disease we have? Will they be able to accept us everyday? 

The answer is Yes.

They are strong, as we are, or otherwise we would have not been able to carry on.

Only God knows how long will we be able to suffer in the future which doesn’t seem anywhere near.

The truth, which is also a disaster, is that we are still human.

As long as we can feel pain and emotional stress, we remain human. 

The truth is also that we are, first and foremost, Palestinians, even if we try to be neutral as journalists.

Even though we try to cover the events as they happen, we do it for our country and our people, in order to reflect the true situation to the whole world, and everybody knows that.

However, the main question that continues to worry me is this: Are there still people out there who feel with us, as we feel with others?

Do they feel the pain, the suffering and the despair that we witness and live every day?

Only you know the answer.
 
Fadi Abu Saada is MENASSAT’s Bethlehem correspondent, and the director of the Palestine News Network, www.pnn.ps

March 13, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

3 Comments »

  1. Fadi has just described a collective feeling, which is something difficult to do. I give him all my respect for writing this and to Menassat for translating it so that I don’t have to!
    PNN English Director,
    Kristen Ess

    Comment by Kristen Ess | March 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. I am not sure it would be in reality. I suppose any Palestinian Arab could be an enemy of the State of Izrael, because it is not a State of Araben, Arabe sind viel, aber Izrael one. Wir zollen dem Staat beschuetzen.

    Comment by Riyaz Massalim | March 14, 2008 | Reply

  3. Like most Americans I had never given much thought to the problems in the middle east. All I really knew was that the Jews had been persecuted because of their religion and nearly wiped out in the holocaust and I felt that they deserved a country of their own.
    I knew that the PLO, Hamas and Yasser Arafat were terrorists who killed women and children as well as Israeli soldiers.

    I have heard that if you shrank all of the Arab lands to the size of a football field Israel would be the size of a postage stamp on that field. So why is there so much animosity over such a small piece of land ?
    I spent almost 3 years in different Arab countries Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE (Abu Dahbi and Dubai). All of the Arabs I met were exceptionally courteous and friendly people. None of he Arabs that I knew disliked me for being an American, although they disagreed with our governments support of Israel. Even when they had disagreements I never saw them escalate to the point of violence. Because of this I wondered why there seemed to be so much animosity between the Arabs and the Jews. When I asked my Arab friends about it they always responded that it was the Zionists that they had problems with. I always assumed that the Zionists were just another branch of the Jewish religion, just as Baptists and Catholics are part of the Christian religion.
    Later I worked for an Israeli company and met many Israeli (Zionist) people. While some of the younger ones seemed open minded, intelligent and friendly most of the older ones seemed to be arrogant, rude and prejudiced. In less than a year the Israelis completely reversed my feelings about them and the situation in the middle east.
    Do you see now the conflict that was in my mind ? I liked all the Arabs I had met, but the Palestinians are Arabs. I liked very few of the Israelis I had met, but I respected the way they retaliated when attacked and still believed they were only defending themselves. Obviously I needed to do some research to find the truth.
    I read up on the history of the area, I perused many websites both pro Israel and pro Palestinian. I read about peoples homes being demolished by the Israelis because the government had no building permit on file. People being beaten and killed by the Israeli Defense Force and their only crime is being Palestinian. Farmers and shepherds cannot reach their fields and flocks due to the walls built by Israel for no purpose other than to inconvenience the Palestinians. Pregnant women and wounded people not being allowed to cross Israeli checkpoints to reach medical care. In many of these cases they cannot even file complaints because they are not allowed to cross into Israeli areas, where the government office are located. My research has proven to me that the Zionists are the cause of the problems in the area NOT the Arabs. I am not asking anyone to accept my words as truth. Do your own research and make your own decisions.
    Lately there has been a lot of resentment towards Muslims and Arabs due to terrorist acts. I do not condone or agree with terrorism in any way shape or form but I think I am starting to understand its causes. Anyone who kills or injures innocent people is mentally unstable, therefore ALL terrorists are mentally unstable. If the government destroyed your home, stole your land, injured/killed your family, took away your ability to support your family, stripped you of your dignity, made your life a living HELL. What would you do ? My own experiences with Arabs/Muslims have all been positive. I think if Americans would make the effort of getting to know some Arabs they might come to the same realizations that I have.
    Having been hard core right wing all of my life I am really uncomfortable being on the same side of any issue as Jimmy Carter, the Clintons and Obama. My whole adult life I had believed that the Israeli/Palestine problem existed because the Muslims hated the Jews. Finally I realized that religion was not the problem.
    The real problem is that the Zionists believe that the Holy Land was given to the Jewish people by GOD and they are the only ones who should be there.

    Comment by JWP | December 22, 2009 | Reply


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