Punditry by Other Means: Lest We Forget the Children

In Memory of Kaukab al-Dayah 2005-2009

By Denis A. Conroy

Kaukab Al Dayah was fascinated by the old woman sitting in a tent at a festival celebrating the olive harvest. Kaukab could see that she was clad in traditional Palestinian garb as she sat gazing into a crystal ball visible to the festive throng passing beyond the flaps of the enclosure.

Kaukab appeared confused and somewhat disheveled as she dallied outside the tent, not able to comprehend the situation she was in and why she was eager to speak to someone. It seemed to her that something might exist within the tent to clear away the fog of perplexity that dulled her mind. She hoped that the old woman peering into the crystal-ball might know what the restlessness she felt within herself might be the consequence of.

The year was 2024 and the old woman sitting with her back to the tent-opening called out “Come in Kaukab Al Dayah” without taking her eyes from the crystal ball. A beautifully crafted hand adorned with a ring bearing a jade stone signaled that she should sit on the stool on the other side of the small round table separating them.

While gazing intently into the crystal-ball, the old Diviner cupped her beautiful hands around it from time to time while uttering exclamations that went unheeded. Then, without any preamble, she turned to Kaukab and said, “You died on January 6, 2009 in your parent’s home when you were four years of age as a result of Operation Summer Rain, which was a military operation launched by Israel against Gaza. This action was part of Operation Cast Iron which resulted in the deaths of 257 children and injured 1080 more. It was a program whereby the Israelis tested their latest ballistic missiles on the defenseless citizens of Gaza”.

The Diviner slowly turned her attention away from the crystal-ball to behold the pitiful circumstances surrounding the troubled spirit of Kaukab Al Dayah. She leaned across the table and took Kaukab’s hand in her own while contemplating how best she could explain the nefarious actions of the so-called civilized Western world, complicit in the deaths of so many innocent children.

“Not all children are born equal in the eyes of the authors of The Old Testament Doctrine of predestination. Not all children are equal in the Zionist scheme of things. You were one of 257 children killed as a consequence of Operation Cast Iron, which revealed itself to be part of an astonishingly brutal occupier’s way of installing a Zionist State in the heart of Palestine, because some ancient god-figure said that the descendants of Abraham should inherit all the land between the Red Sea and Mediterranean coast…the use of white phosphorous and ballistic missiles on civilians being a modern version of religious zeal. The fact that the Promised Land was the central tenet of Zionism gave free rein to ideological excesses of the worst kind. The methods Zionists used to achieve their ends were harsh and inhuman. If terror failed to drive the Palestinians from their land, ballistic missiles and white phosphorous will do the job…seemed to be their mantra.”

The old Diviner fell silent for some time to reflect on the transcendental nature of Zionism which needed to attain some imaginary superior height in order to look down into the mirrors of race and class to see a face not their own to denigrate…some strange pathological notion of identity put in place to secure the chosen-few as exceptional was created to place them behind an impenetrable facade of myth, in order to separate them from children of other races that they deemed unequal to their own? It then became a matter of separation… “that they weren’t like us”, was reason enough to believe that they deserved to be ruled.

The wise old Diviner wondered why Western Societies continued to use institutionalized religions to justify the privileges they allow themselves when it came to the exploitation of other people’s resources, and not before adopting the moral high-ground that gave them ‘reasons’ to condone their acts of impunity, she reflected. She was aware that members of the Church, civil society, governments and experts-in-academia had been running this script for as long as empires existed.

The paradigmatic proclivities of Western thinking appeared inward-looking and generally inadequate when it came to nurturing universal concepts that might connect with the human consequences of actions, the Diviner thought. The depth and breadth of thinking that can be found in Confucius, Karl Marx or Jean Baudrillard and others are akin to an atmospheric narrative that allows for no borders and therefore universal in all of its parts.

On the other hand there is the opinion-making media that identifies the Western sphere as merely a co-option of perspectives that represent self-interest. Circumstances of critical importance to Palestine for instance, are seldom remembered and preferably forgotten by Western countries that prefer to bask in the glory of their own hubris…the culturally-hyped celebrities of Mammon leading the pack have their own callow bottom-line.

The forces that put the ugly Zionist State in the heart of Palestine are indifferent to human values and community realities. The occupiers of Palestine are obviously unconcerned about the consequences of actions that militate against the historic reality of Palestine. That the Old and New Testaments tend to favor syntactic roles that calcify paradigmatic structures as they pursue their own ends is lamentable. Jew and Goyim melding into partnership to produce mayhem in parts of the world that fail to acquiesce to USA and Israeli Foreign Policy dictates is part of Palestine’s problem. Those enablers of colonial chicanery, Balfour, Harry Truman, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and their ilk, have made exploitation of smaller countries a collaborative end game for big-money banks.

The Diviner, who had been holding Kaukab’s hand in her own all the while, now gently placed it flat on top of the crystal ball, causing it to glow brightly while appearing to hum without making any sound. What followed was the narrative of Kaukab Al Dayah life had it been allowed to extend beyond its four year term.

Kaukab sat mesmerism before the crystal-ball that grew in size as the subject of the narrative grew in proportion to time passing within the narrative. The life she could have lived, the person she would have become began to suffuse the empty space of the ontological paradox that beset her. Once again she partook of the delights of familial intercourse recognizably vibrant in the details of a daily life that connected to the poetry of bardic Palestine in all its millennial glory. Integer by integer Kaukab observed her own development with a fascination that melded into the soundless hum of the crystal ball now in the service of time-zone divinations.

She saw herself at ten years of age loosening the soil around the base of an olive tree with the familiar green-handled hoe that was kept next to the water tank in the orchard. She felt the nearness of her mother’s presence, the smell of the newly turned earth, the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves of the olive trees and the sound of her two older siblings chasing a large plastic hoop that was about to splash into a dam half-way down a hill on the family’s acre of land.

For Kaukab, time in the tent she now sat in had ceased to exist. The crystal-ball had evolved into a bright globe wherein the life of Kaukab, in all its innocence, reveled in the act of self-discovery and was thrilled by the minutiae of the moment and the vastness of the sky above the olive trees on their little acre of Palestine. Kaukab sat transfixed before the crystal-ball which allowed meaning into the life she never lived. Eight decades of the life she never lived passed before her eyes in extraordinary detail. From afar she heard the old Diviner’s incantation… SAPERE VEDERE…SAPERE VERDE…SAPERE VERDE.

The fog of perplexity disappeared from her mind and the restlessness she had known for so long was banished forever.

The old Diviner sitting on the other side of the ever inflating crystal-ball now occupying ever more of the tents’ space observed a very different kind of narrative to the one Kaukab was witnessing. She recognized in the eyes of the child of four a respect for all living things…a respect that would have accompanied her throughout her life…had she lived. The respect was there in the eyes of the student she would have become at Hebron University…had she lived. To the Diviner, the loss of Kaukab’s life painfully symbolized the loss of the life of a lover of life. She sighed as she realised that respect had no purchasing power in a world where naked power obliterated bona fide rules of conduct.

For the old Diviner, it was incongruous that the Israeli Airforce should deliver white phosphorus and ballistic missiles into a Palestine that had existed since time immemorial for little feet to run through. She wondered if the breath of the occupier smelled of phosphorus. She recognised the callow indifference and cynicism behind the Anglo-American bid to install a Zionist State in the heart of Palestine and how whole communities could suffer because they all too easily could get in the way of regime change conceived in an office in Washington or London.

The old Diviner reflected on the civilized prejudices that confronted her compatriot and beloved poet Edward W. Said who wrote “Arabs for example, are thought of as camel-riding, terroristic, hook-nosed, venal lechers whose undeserved wealth is an affront to real civilization. Always there lurks the assumption that although the Western consumer belongs to a numerical minority, he is entitled either to own or to expend (or both) the majority of the world resources. Why? Because unlike the Oriental he is a true human being.”

Somehow, an eternity of time had passed within and without the little tent. A gust of wind rushed through the flaps of the tent as though signalling that it was the moment for Kaukab Al Dayah to depart. The older woman took the ring with the jade stone from her hand and approached Kaukab and offered it to her. The crystal-ball had returned to its original size. The time of seeing past and future time had passed and the time of reliving the sounds of the past had returned. The exchange of the jade-stone occurred with simple Arabic ceremony redolent of Oriental grace and dignity…and the sounds made by 257 pairs of little feet heard exuberantly dancing in a Palestinian twilight brought faint smiles to the faces of the old Diviner and Kaukab Al Dayah.

– Denis A. Conroy is a writer who contributed to many online newspapers including Counter Punch and dissident Voice. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. 

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