Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Staying Ahead of the Danger (Poem)

Staying Ahead of the Danger

Drone-dropped leaflets float down
like so much manna from heaven:
warnings with QR codes for
downloadable color-coded maps
outlining the "dangerous combat
zones" in the killing fields of Gaza.

There is no electricity to charge
the phones the IDF is calling.

Texts follow anyway. Evacuate,
those first ones order; stay inside

"known" shelters and schools,
command others. An official

spokesperson fails to see
the contradiction, estimates

that for every one Hamas militant
eliminated, two civilians die.

Let's be clear: This is the calculus 
only his government can live with,

the toll now "something more"
than the losses recorded yesterday,

and still "more than acceptable
compared to other armies

facing similar challenges 
in urban battlefields." After all,

what choice is there? "We
didn't start this war," he argues. 


The quotes in this poem come directly from an Israeli military spokesperson's explanation of his country's warning system, which uses air-dropped leaflets, drone broadcasts, telephone calling, texting, and Internet communications to warn Gazans to move out of harm's way as the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) advances its war against Hamas militants. Displacement in one area flows from displacement in another. As this Washington Post article makes clear from interviews with Gazans and humanitarian aid officials, there are no safe spaces for the Palestinians, not in homes, schools, hospitals, churches, or other shelters, especially where all essential services have ceased to exist. (See "Israel touts civilian warning system, but for Gazans, nowhere is safe".) The spokesperson's additional comments about the number of civilians killed compared to the number of militants are appalling, though the individual hastened to add – too late, in my opinion, to register a sense of compassion – that "any loss" is unacceptable. Numbers are telling. Facts are facts. We must all drop the scales from our eyes if we are to see this war, and this horrendous crisis for Palestinian civilians, in clear light and at last acknowledge those unlike ourselves as the human beings they are. (See also this New York Times coverage and, in particular, "An Airstrike hits Rafah, where Israel had urged Gazans to seek safety," (December 6, 2023):


Robert McDowell said...

This is marvelous, sobering, eye-opening. Would that it was on the front page of the New York Times. the two-for-one statistic is appalling. Even rescued hostages are furious with their government. The poem says it best.

Robert McDowell said...

This poem and Commentary are so powerful and necessary. We need more of this to turn hate into peace. We need understanding. There are crystal couplets shining with Truth.