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Sunday, August 03, 2014


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Some Gazans have admitted that they were afraid of criticizing Hamas, but none have said they had been forced by the organisation to stay in places of danger and become unwilling human-shields. The Bani Sobeila area, near Khan Younis, where the Abu Jamaa deaths took place received leaflets dropped from the air last week warning them to leave. But almost all stayed. One reason for that was many of the houses belonged to the Abu Jamaa clan who felt there was safety in staying together. Another reason was given by a neighbour, Abdullah al-Daweish: “Where do we go to? Some people moved from the outer edge of Khan Younis to Khan Younis centre after Israelis told them to, then the centre got bombed. People have moved from this area to Gaza City, and Gaza City has been bombed. It’s not Hamas who is ordering us in this, it’s the Israelis.”  --“Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields.” The Independent (UK), July 21, 2014. Image source: Israel Defense Forces.

The lies rise early
To shower and shave
And don their heroic flight suits
(The lies are nothing
If not clean-cut
And smartly turned-out)

At breakfast the lies
Playfully mock each other
And make light
Of the dangers of their upcoming mission
Over enemy territory
(The lies are nothing
If not courageous)

During their preflight briefing
The lies receive
Aerial photographs
And location coordinates
For surgical strikes
Against terrorist targets
(The lies are nothing
If not precise)

In the cockpits of their F16s
The lies crack jokes
Over their crackling radios
About mowing down “future terrorists”
(The lies are nothing
If not witty)

When they return to base
The lies meet over a few beers
To review their day’s work
And pledge allegiance once again
To the founding myths
While on enemy ground
Countless small truths
Bleed into soil and sand

Buff Whitman-Bradley is the author of four books of poetry, b. eagle, poet; The Honey Philosophies; Realpolitik; and When Compasses Grow Old; and the chapbook, Everything Wakes Up! His poetry has appeared in many print and online journals. He is also co-editor, with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley and Sarah Lazare, of the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War.  He has co-produced/directed two documentary films, the award-winning Outside In (with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley) and Por Que Venimos (with the MIRC Film Collective).  He lives in northern California.