Alice Walker in alicewalkersgarden:
Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: What else would I do? I am in my sixty-seventh year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content. It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one’s understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise? Some of this narrative I have written before, but in the interest of completion, I will reiterate here: On December 27, 2008, one of my two sisters died, just as the Israeli military began massively bombing the Gaza strip, an assault that would continue for 22 days and nights. She was older than me, and had been sick practically all her life. Stress of many kinds had separated our spirits, though love remained. Even with so much distance between us I felt, when she died, as if I’d lost part of myself. It was amazing, the grief. And then I learned, that same day, of a woman in Gaza who had lost five of her daughters to the bombing; she herself was unconscious. Immediately I felt: I must go to her and tell her that even though I am an American and paid with my taxes for some of the grotesque weapons of mass destruction rained on her family, I did not sanction devastation of her life, or, if she survived, her grief.
That was my first trip to the Israeli dominated territories of Palestine.
What I found left me speechless and helped inspire a small book: OVERCOMING SPEECHLESSNESS: A POET ENCOUNTERS THE HORROR IN RWANDA, EASTERN CONGO, AND PALESTINE/ISRAEL. For months I found it impossible to talk about what it had felt like to walk among the rubble of what had been people’s homes, hospitals, libraries, and schools. I found old people sitting in the pulverized remains of homes they’d sacrificed generations of labor and love to create, and was told of people wounded so badly they were rotting (from the tungsten DIME contained in the bombs) from the inside out. The water system had been destroyed, the sewer system also. What remained of The American School was a mountain of rubble. I sat there in its ruins, in despair. Five things besides people and animals one must never assault, I believe, are: water, homes, schools, hospitals and the land. The Israeli military had deliberately destroyed or made impossible for the Palestinian people to use, all of these.
About a year later, I was on my way to Gaza a second time.
More here. (Note: In honor of African American History Month, we will be linking to at least one related post throughout February. The 2012 theme is Black Women in American Culture and History).