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Jenka’s Journal: The City of Jenin

I woke up two days ago to the news that a Palestinian had blown himself up in Tel Aviv, killing eight Israelis and himself, at the bus station. I thought, as I always do, of the victims…..limbs torn apart, the children crying, ambulances rushing to the scene….so terrible, terrible, terrible…….

It reminded me of a similar scene in Gaza last week, a family bombed in their home by an Israeli air strike….a little girl’s body in pieces, the rest of the family with limbs blown off……

The only difference is: that attack never made the American news.

Israeli writer Gideon Levy wrote a powerful article about it:

He says: “The continuing imprisonment of besieged Gaza is precisely the opposite policy that should be applied to serve Israeli interests. The current policy only strengthens support for the Hamas, just like the terror attacks within Israel always strengthen the Israeli right. A nation under siege, its leadership boycotted, will have far more determination and resolve to fight to its last drop of blood. It is impossible to break the spirit of a desperate people. Only a nation that sees a light at the end of its desperation will change its ways.”

As long as there are young men and boys who see no reason for living, and who see no future for themselves in the prison that has been made of their country, there will be bombers willing to give their lives to avenge the injustices they see every day living in Occupied Palestine.

When I saw the picture of the kid who did the bombing yesterday on the television- so young, so terribly young….he looked no more than 16. Then I heard that he was from the city of Jenin. The irony just struck me, as the words of a song by folk singer David Rovics entered my head….it is a song, ironically enough, about a suicide bomber from the city of Jenin — the site of a massive Israeli assault that lasted two months in March and April of 2002, and resulted in nearly 800 deaths, and the complete flattening of a vast portion of the city. Here are the lyrics of the song:

Oh, child, what will you remember
When you recall your sixteenth year
The horrid sound of helicopter gunships
The rumble of the tanks as they drew near

As the world went about it’s business
And I burned another tank of gasoline
The Dow Jones lost a couple points that day
While you were crying in the City of Jenin

Did they even give your parents warning
Before they blew the windows out with shells
While you hid inside the high school basement
Amidst the ringing of church bells

As you watched your teacher crumble by the doorway
And in England they were toasting to the Queen
You were so far from the thoughts of so many
Huddled in the City of Jenin

Were you thinking of the taunting of the soldiers
Or of the shit they smeared upon the walls
Were you thinking of your cousin after torture
Or Tel Aviv and it’s glittering shopping malls

When the fat men in their mansions say that you don’t want peace
Did you wonder what they mean
As you sat amidst the stench inside the darkness
In the shattered City of Jenin

What went through your mind on that day
At the site of your mother’s vacant eyes
As she lay still among the rubble
Beneath the blue Middle Eastern skies

As you stood upon this bulldozed building
Beside the settlements and their hills so green
As your tears gave way to grim determination
Among the ruins of the City of Jenin

And why should anybody wonder
As you stepped on board
The crowded bus across the Green Line
And you reached inside your jacket for the cord

Were you thinking of your neighbors buried bodies
As you made the stage for this scene
As you set off the explosives that were strapped around your waist
Were you thinking of the City of Jenin

you can listen to the song here: