As I write this now, there is talk of ceasefire in Gaza. Yes, we're relieved that a ceasefire may mean that others will not have to perish in the aggression. But how "good" can such news be? Of course, we've wanted the violence to stop from the very beginning. And long before the onslaught began, we called for the "violence" of the siege of Gaza to end, so that 1.5 million people there can resume a life that comes near to being normal.
But now what? When should we expect the next round of oppressive and physical violence against the people of Gaza? Unfortunately, there are more sad questions to ask. When the Israeli soldiers leave, will the children who perished come back to life? Can their parents gather together their flesh and bones and see them walk, talk, sing, and play again? Will the homes, schools, and hospitals suddenly rise and stand on their foundations? Can we comprehend just how long and deep the people of Gaza will live with the terrors of this pre-inauguration war? Can parents ever forget the loss of their children? Can children ever forget the loss of their parents? The answers are obvious.
One of our chief obligations as Muslims, as people of conscience and responsibility, is to care for others, especially when most of the world stops caring. The issues that we raised during the days of war and violence are equally important now. We must continue to speak in support of the voiceless children, the orphans, the widows, the men, the women, and the helpless civilians of Gaza who have lived in hellish conditions for several weeks now and who lived in misery under tyrannical siege for the past two years and nonstop nightmare under military occupation for the past 60 years.
Let us again tell the children of Gaza that we are with you, our hearts are with you, your cries are penetrating deep in our hearts and minds, your wounds are bleeding inside us, and we will do anything in our power to relieve your suffering.
As Barack Obama has become president of the United States, let us remind him of something. During his recent visit to the holy land, he said, "If somebody is sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that."
President Obama, we agree. However, Mr. President, would you do everything in your power to stop the sending of rockets and bombs on the Palestinian children? Mr. President, what would you do if 60 Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed your children while going to their schools?
Mr. President, what would you do if American-made, Israeli operated Apache helicopters dropped cluster bombs on your children while asleep? Mr. President, what would you do if Sasha and Malia tell their mother, "Please don't leave us alone, we don't want to die alone, we want to die with you."
Mr. President, what would you do if five of your daughters: Tahrir, 17 years old; Ikram, 15; Samar, 12; Dina, 8 and Jawaher, 4, were killed while asleep when an Israeli airstrike hit their home with a 2000-pound bomb? This is precisely what happened to the Balousha sisters in the Jabalia refugee camp. Their mother said, "They grew up day after day and night after night, but within a second, I have lost them all." Their lone sister who survived, said she could hear her sisters' cries, "Mom! Mom! Where is my mother? Pull me out!" until their voices stopped coming. Mr. President, what would you do if Malia can see Sasha under the rubble and can touch her hair, but can't do anything to save her life?
Mr. President guess who sells the warplanes, the Apaches, the 2000-pound bombs, the GPS guided bombs and the cluster bombs to Israel and provides them with the financial aid to buy them? Mr. President, guess how many new radicals are created throughout the world watching the image of bombing and killing in Gaza? How many young people will hate our country and our government because of our silence and complicity?
The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said, "All that you have done to our people is registered in our notebooks." Desmond Tutu said, "Our silence and complicity on the situation in Gaza, shames us all."
Mr. President, you now took an oath to be a leader. And you promised "change." So let there be change. Do not fear standing for justice when it upsets a paralyzing system of political influence and lobby. When you stand with justice, you stand on the side of God. That's all the support you need.
Peace to all!
Dr. M. Zaher Sahloul