Today is the Jewish fast day Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the month of Av (from which Arabic derives “Ab,” the Gregorian month of August). Considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, it is believed to be the day that both the first and second temples were each destroyed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but also often encompasses other moments of great mourning.
On the Islamic calendar, this is also Muharram, the saddest month of the Muslim year, especially for Shi’a Muslims. It remembers the first great schism in the Ummah (the global community of Muslims), which led to the murder of the Prophet Muhammad’s son Ali and grandsons Hasan and Hussein in Karbala, now in Iraq.
I’ve written before about how Muharram is commemorated, as well as how the Jewish and Muslim calendars shift around the year. Today, I’m too angry for a history lesson.
On the saddest day of the Jewish year, in the saddest month of the Muslim year, Israel is raining terror on the world’s largest outdoor prison, the Gaza Strip, and Israelis are attacking among of the holiest places in Islam. On Facebook, Jewish Voice for Peace describes today’s events as follows:
Just over one year since its last assault on Gaza, the Israeli government launched yet another round of catastrophic bombings, flattening homes and killing Palestinian families. This is the fifth attack by Israel of this magnitude since it placed Gaza under a crippling blockade of land, air and sea 15 years ago.
The rampant violence against Palestinians by the Israeli military – with the funding, support and defense of the U.S. government – is horrifying in its cruelty and inhumanity. Palestinians live under Israeli brutality every single day of the year. And when Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, no one can escape, no one can flee to safety.
Our grief and rage is also intensified watching the specter of Israeli settlers and extremists roaming Jerusalem in mobs, attacking Palestinians and invading the Al Aqsa mosque compound, in a twisted marking of the Jewish holiday Tisha B’av.
This is not a “conflict” or a “war” – and it is not complicated. It is a campaign of terror by one of the world’s best funded militaries against an imprisoned and shackled indigenous population. Today’s horrors are the latest steps in the deliberate execution of Israel’s longstanding attack on Palestinian lives, land and freedom; it is the unabated, ongoing NakbaJewish Voice for Peace
I don’t always follow the events in Palestine as closely as I once did, but from time to time these things overwhelm my social media feeds and the anger bubbles up once again. And I’m angry for the Palestinians and their Muslim allies, but I’m also angry for my Jewish friends, whose religion is being hijacked in the name of racist extremism.
This isn’t the first time. I’ve written in prose and in bilingual poetry when, during the week of Christmas, Hanukkah and Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) in December 2009, Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead upon the confined residents of the Gaza Strip. I don’t know why the Israeli military thinks that the holidays are a perfect time to terrorize and slaughter Palestinians, but it’s definitely a pattern.
And I’m angry, and feeling both complicit and impotent as an American. That’s all I really have to say.