Almost 15 years ago, in our words, the nightmare was forwarned. It was during a Semillero and it was through the voice of the deceased SupMarcos that we spoke. Here it goes:
Of sowings and reapings
Maybe, what I am about to say has nothing to do with the main theme of this roundtable, or maybe it has.
Two days ago, the same day in which our word spoke of violence, the ineffable Condoleezza Rice, US government official, declared that what was going on in Gaza was the fault of the Palestinians, due to their violent nature.
The subterranean rivers that run through the world are able to change their geography, but they sing the same song.
And the river we now listen to sings of war and grief.
Not far from here, in a place called Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, just next door, a heavily armed and trained army, from the Israeli government, continues its advance of death and destruction.
The steps it has followed so far are those of a classic military war of conquest: first a massive and intense bombardment to destroy “neuralgic” military posts (so they are called by military manuals) and to “soften up” resistance fortifications; then an iron grip on information: everything that is heard and seen “in the outside world”, that is to say, outside of the theatre of operations must be selected according to military criteria; now intense artillery fire over enemy infantry to protect the advance of troops to their new positions: after that an encirclement and siege to weaken the enemy garrison; then an assault to conquer the position by annihilating the enemy; finally, the “cleansing” of the probable “nests of resistance”.
The military manual of modern warfare, with some variations or additions, is being followed step by step by invading military forces.
We don’t know much about this, and it is certain that there are specialists on the so called “conflict in the Middle East”, but from this corner, we have something to say:
According to the photos from news agencies, the “neuralgic” military posts destroyed by the Airforce of the Israeli government are houses, huts, civil buildings.
We have not seen any bunkers, barracks, military airports or cannon batteries among what has been destroyed. Then, we think, excuse our ignorance, that either the aircraft gunners have bad aim or in Gaza there are no such “neuralgic” military posts.
We don’t have the honor of having visited Palestine, but we suppose that in those houses, huts and buildings used to live people, men, women, children and elderlies, and not soldiers.
We have not seen resistance fortifications either, only debris.
What we have seen, is the so far futile effort to cordon off information and several governments of the world wavering between playing the fool or applauding the invasion, and a UN, already useless way back, publishing lukewarm press releases.
But wait. It now occurs to us that perhaps, for the Israeli government, these men, women, children and elderly people are enemy soldiers and, as such, the huts, houses and buildings where they live in are barracks that need to be destroyed.
And the enemy garrison that they want to weaken with the encirclement and siege of Gaza is none other than the Palestinian population living there. And that the assault will seek to annihilate that population. And that any man, woman, child or elderly person who manages to escape, by hiding from the predictably bloody assault, will then be «hunted down» so that the cleansing can be completed, and the military chief in command of the operation can report to his superiors «we have completed the mission.»
Excuse our ignorance again, perhaps what we are saying is, in fact, beside the point. And that instead of repudiating and condemning the crime in progress, as indigenous people and as warriors that we are, we should be discussing and taking a position on the discussion about whether it’s «Zionism» or «anti-Semitism», or that it was the Hamas bombs that started it.
Perhaps our thoughts are very simple, and we lack the nuances and the always very necessary marginal notes in the analysis, but, for us Zapatistas, in Gaza there is a professional army assassinating a defenseless population.
Who from below and to the left can remain silent?
Is it useful to say something? Do our screams stop any bombs? Is our word saving the life of a Palestinian child?
We think that it is useful, maybe we will not stop a bomb nor will our word become an armored shield that prevents that 5.56 mm or 9 mm caliber bullet, with the letters «IMI» («Israeli Military Industry») engraved on the base of the cartridge, from reaching the chest of a girl or a boy, but maybe our word will manage to join with others in Mexico and the world and maybe first it will become a murmur, then a loud voice, and then a cry that will be heard in Gaza.
We don’t know about you, but we Zapatistas of the EZLN know how important it is, in the midst of destruction and death, to hear a few words of encouragement.
I don’t know how to explain this, but it turns out that words from afar may not be enough to stop a bomb, but they are as if a crack opened in the black room of death for a small light to slip through.
Otherwise, what will happen will happen. The Israeli government will declare that it has dealt a severe blow to terrorism, it will hide the magnitude of the massacre from its people, the big producers of weapons will have gotten an economic break to face the crisis and «world public opinion,» that malleable entity, always in tune with the situation, will turn to look the other way.
But not only. It will also happen that the Palestinian people will resist and survive and continue fighting, and continue to have sympathy for their cause from those below.
And perhaps a boy or girl from Gaza will survive too. Perhaps they will grow and, with them, anger, indignation, rage. Perhaps they will become soldiers or partisans for one of the groups fighting in Palestine. Maybe he or she will face combat against Israel. Maybe he or she does it by firing a rifle. Maybe by blowing himself up with a belt of dynamite sticks around his waist.
And then, up there, someone will write about the violent nature of the Palestinians and make statements condemning that kind of violence and there will be another debate about whether Zionism or anti-Semitism.
And then no one will ask who sowed what was reaped.
On behalf of the men, women, children and elderly of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, 4rth of January 2009.
Those who were children then, almost 15 years ago, and who survived, well…
There are those who were responsible for sowing what is now being reaped, and there are those who, with impunity, repeat the sowing.
Those who just a few months ago justified and defended Putin’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing its «right to defend itself from a potential threat», must now be juggling (or betting on forgetfulness) to invalidate that argument in relation of Israel. And vice versa.
Today, in Palestine and Israel -and all over the world- there are children and young people learning what terrorisms teach: that there are no limits, no rules, no laws, no shame.
And no responsibilities.
Neither Hamas nor Netanyahu. The people of Israel will prevail. The people of Palestine will prevail. They only need to give themselves a chance and work hard at it.
Meanwhile, each war will continue to be only the prelude to the next, more ferocious, more destructive, more inhumane.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Mexico, October 2023.