I joined a poetry group on Facebook a while back and posted the occasional poem. Sometimes I’d get a “like”, and if I was lucky, maybe even two. Still, I enjoyed reading peoples' posts, and was inspired to write more of my own poetry. While most people POST poetry, some people REQUEST poetry to soothe an aching heart. Sometimes it is for a bad dumping; other times for the loss of a loved one. The people in the group usually respond with something comforting. . .
One day a fellow posted a note that said, “Does anyone have a poem for Palestine?” A guy responded with a snide comment suggesting that "Palestinians are terrorists”. Then another guy quickly followed with an extremely hurtful anti-Palestinian poem with some effort put into the rhyming couplets. I felt the viciousness of the stab through my own heart. I jumped in and politely told both responders what I thought of their comments. Of course, the individuals responded back, telling me to chill and piss-off. I reported the incident to the group administrator, but it was too late. Sadly, the individual left the group.
I couldn’t believe the ignorance of the one responder, and the anger and seething hatred of the second, along with the blatant prejudice of both of them on a POETRY page that is supposed to be a SAFE place for everyone. Why are these two pricks so quick to attack a fellow when all he wanted was a poem for his people? So I started thinking: these are two extremely ignorant, arrogant, angry, racist people. But what about the rest of us? How have our views been shaped and how do we see Palestinians and Palestine?
Does anyone love Adam Sandler as I do? He is hilarious and entertaining. Certainly an easy guy to love. I was watching his film “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” a while back and thought about the imagery being used and the bend being imposed on the audience. The Israel-Palestine conflict is used in a way that is uncomfortably funny, but: are the scenes TRULY funny if we THINK for a moment about them? Maybe movies like this shape how we think about people we don’t really know. Maybe we are being exposed to biases disguised as comedy and portrayed as fact. We are being channeled to one side of thinking. This isn’t just about ONE MOVIE either; it is many movies. And it is the way stories have been related to us in Canada and the USA through television shows and the news media for decades. We are so infected with a one-sided view that we can't see it is the Palestinians who are being terrorized and violated, and not a single person in the world is doing ANYTHING to peacefully stop it...
I have since come to know the individual who was asking for a “Poem for Palestine”. He is a young fellow, studying at a university in Gaza when he can scrape together enough money to attend. He needs to come up with $500.00 (US equivalent) for tuition and is lucky to make $5.00 in one day helping his friend with a construction project. He is confined within the Israeli fence around Gaza and often feels depressed with the living conditions there. Though he loves Gaza and his people, he feels imprisoned with absolutely no opportunity, no future to look forward to, and no hope for improvement. He would like to travel the world beyond Gaza and feel free. He wants to be an actor someday.
He is a young man with hopes and dreams like all of us and does not deserve to be caged indefinitely in Gaza, or rudely shunned by a couple of ignorant fucks on a poetry page - just because he is Palestinian. Instead he should be proud to be Palestinian and have the world's support. I am proud of him for using art to lift the spirits of his people in terrible times.