Your poem reminded me of a poem called “Power Songs” that you wrote many years ago. I could imagine a way to sing that poem/song. The world it reacted to was clear and my opposition to it was motivation to want to find a way to sing it. The “Gaza” poem you posted is mostly unspecific, and, if I read it as intended, it does not take sides but takes aim at the violence and war. Violence and the harming of weak or innocent people is always distasteful and immoral. The narrative I have of the Gaza situation, and which at present I cannot see is basically inaccurate, makes it difficult for me to accept the poem's cosmic evenhandedness. Hamas has clearly and repeatedly stated its policy that Israel is illegitimate as an alien and hostile element in Daar-al-Islam and must be destroyed. Since the evacuation of Gaza it has fired more than 5,000 rockets at settlements within range, often timing them for when kids are leaving home for school. They have killed tens of innocent people and celebrate each death. So how, politically, or poetically, am I to relate to that? The Israeli response was a gift to the media-savvy Hamas. But what were we to do? What is an appropriate response to the position, articulated by rocket fire, that we have no right to exist?
The song I would be inclined to sing here is the lament of a Palestinian mother in Gaza caught between the fanatical politico-religious ideology of some of her own people and an enemy that responds with Hobbesian harshness to attacks on its own people.
This is not to say that I don't appreciate your poem, only that we seem to be working from different metanarratives. And maybe that the broadly liberal assumptions that seem to work in Europe and North America don't work so well where people don't share the relativist and individualist values, or lack of values, of the West. Can most North Americans get into the mind of the Spartan mother who asked a soldier returning from battle whether Sparta had won and when she was told in reply that all her sons had been killed she said that she had not asked about her family, but whether Sparta had won? When she was told it had, she seemed pleased. Or can we understand the Japanese wife and mother whose husband wanted to become a kamikaze? The Japanese army being, like most armies and big organizations, run by a rational bureaucracy, had its criteria for different kinds of missions.
As a married man and father, he did not meet the criteria. The soldier applied for suicide missions a number of times and was turned down each time. His wife was sensitive to the suffering this caused him. So she drowned her children and then committed suicide. The soldier's next application was approved, and he flew as a kamakaze. According the the TV program on the Second World War where I heard about this (so it must be true), this family is commemorated in a museum for the kamakaze somewhere in Japan. Do we see in this story monstrosity, or do we see a kind of heroism and devotion to the common good that we can hardly grasp? The Spartan mother has daughters in Japan, among the fundamentalists Palestinians, and among the fundamentalists in Israel. There are probably fewer in Israel, very few in Tel Aviv, quite a few in the territories. But enough to introduce absolute and irrational values into Israeli politics, and these are leveraged out of proportion to the size of the population that holds them, But that is another story. You have my vote in favor of a reasonable compromise to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Now someone needs to convince the Islamic fundamentalists in Hamas and Hezbollah and the rest of the Islamic world, and the religious nuts in Israel.
Peace and love, Harvey