“The world is setting itself upon us like we were some nuclear superpower. But in the name of God, we’re nothing but a miserable people who want to be free.” // (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

“We’re Terrorists” — A Voice from Gaza

“This world is losing its humanity. What I do know is that civilisation is nothing but a lie. We are now at the bottom rung of civilisation’s inhumanity. The world has failed the test of humanity and has shown its real face. The deception behind civilisation’s pretence has been exposed. This world is no worthy of us to live in. Therefore, we will die satisfied. Completely satisfied.”

The Palestine Project
6 min readNov 17, 2023

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By Ilana Hammerman *

A brief introduction: I translated the following from Arabic. It was written recently by an author from Gaza. I don’t know who he is, and I didn’t get permission to translate and publish it. And yet I chose to vocalise this voice from Gaza because I can find no other way to voice my own words from Jerusalem. If I could, I’d write in clear, concise, and particularly well-reasoned words that I oppose Israel’s war in Gaza. I don’t believe that this war, which is destroying the Gaza Strip, condemning its residents, children and elderly and all that’s in between, to displacement, thirst, hunger, and the killing and maiming of thousands more, is all meant to protect us. I don’t think it is the correct response to the horrific acts of slaughter and torture by contemptible Hamas operatives in the western Negev. I think this is a criminal vindictive war that will only lead to further devastation.

And thus the anonymous author wrote from Gaza:

“We’re terrorists. That’s what we’re told. I have to believe the Israeli story because no doubt Israeli media knows better than me. I have to believe that my wife, who makes delicious maqluba, is a terrorist, and the maqluba pot could be a weapon of mass destruction. My wife, who waits for me to return home from work each day, who’s preoccupied with cleaning the house and preparing food, is no more than a terrorist wishing to destroy Israel’s right to exist. I have to believe that my only son, Fares, born after seven rounds of IVF, is also a terrorist. The child, who’s not yet two years old, is picking up his first words.

“When the war started, I left him with my wife’s family, and he learned to say his name and a few numbers, and name animals and colours in two languages: Arabic and English. Yesterday, I noticed that he’d picked up new words: ‘aeroplane’, ‘missile’, ‘bombardment’. And when he utters one of these words and we can hear an explosion, either nearby or farther away, he trembles and runs to his mother, and I hug him sadly and mourn his lost childhood. Israeli Knesset members believe, as should I, that this child deserves to die, because when he grows up he’ll be a terrorist as well, and so he may now be killed for self-defence. Whoever expels me from my home has a right to defend themselves, while landowners and homeowners here have no rights.

“I’ve gotten used to seeing Fares sitting on his little chair in front of the house, waiting for me to return from work, waiting for the candy and chocolates I would bring him. The minute he’d see me he’d jump up to give me a hug. His bond with me is a natural result of my bond with him. I cannot imagine a day without him. But now I must contend with this possibility, which pierces my heart each time and makes me cry unstoppably.

“Okay, I tell myself. I may only lose my home. I may lose my wife and son. I may die and my son will live, and become an orphan. And maybe we will all die together, and that’s not such a bad option.

“I often wonder will it hurt when the rocket hits our fragile bodies. Will my son be in pain? Will he understand what’s happening? Will I be able to embrace him, contain him? Will my body be able to protect him from the menace of a two-tonne bomb? At other times I often wonder whether we’ll be together in heaven after we die. Will our small family be together again? Will we gather to eat together and enjoy a movie in the evenings as we once used to?

“We are terrorists. Only terrorists have the kinds of rituals that we have. Almost every evening we get nuts and popcorn, turn off the lights, and watch an Arab or an American movie: an Arab movie, made by the people who don’t speak for us, or an American movie, made by the people who help to kill us all and support the occupier with bombs and rockets and military equipment and even soldiers.

“The world is setting itself upon us like we were some nuclear superpower. But in the name of God, we’re nothing but a miserable people who want to be free. A regular people, simply seeking to make a living and live with dignity on our land. Because returning to the land we were first uprooted from may have become an impossible dream, so let’s remain in our second land and dream about a peaceful life. But no, we cannot, because we’re terrorists.

“I left behind in my home hundreds of copies of my stories and novels. In my writing too I’ve become used to floating into space, dreaming of an unoccupied homeland, writing about the future, science fiction and technology. Sometimes the homeland draws me back, and at other times my imagination takes me away. I’ve written a lot. I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand of different ways. I’ve travelled in spaceships, penetrated cracks in the space time continuum, fought great monsters in from the depths of history. But none of this has yet been introduced to my son. My son, to whom I left a huge library, as I wished he would read it all. I wanted to tell him proudly that his father is an author. I wanted him to call me — I wanted to hear him in a decade or two tell me what he thinks about my writing. It would be the most cherished opinion of all, an opinion whose value would outweigh of those of the academics and critics at all the universities. It would be a genuine source of pride.

“Will any of this happen? The bombardment doesn’t discriminate between a combatant and a civilian. The bombardment destroys everything. Death comes from anywhere. Not even your enemy can see it, because death will come to you from a mythical monster above the clouds, spitting fire like a nuclear bomb onto a civilian who has no control over it.

“Survival is only an option. An unlikely, distant option. It may happen, it may not. And if it does, how will I live my life after losing most of my friends and a great deal of my family?

“I have no advice to give, because I don’t know who will survive this massacre. Will I? Will my wife? Will my child? Who will survive to give advice to, or to give others advice about? I do not know… maybe I’ll say: forgive me, I don’t know. Will there be anyone left in my country to forgive? Maybe not. I don’t know that either. Our dreams have caved in on top of us. The homes we built were demolished on top of us. Our lives now depend on the push of a button by a pilot who kills in cold blood without seeing his victims’ faces. Were he to look into his victim’s eyes, would he still push the button?

“This is a moral question I cannot answer. This world is losing its humanity. What I do know is that civilisation is nothing but a lie. We are now at the bottom rung of civilisation’s inhumanity. The world has failed the test of humanity and has shown its real face. The deception behind civilisation’s pretence has been exposed. This world is no worthy of us to live in. Therefore, we will die satisfied. Completely satisfied.”

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