Photographs of a mother’s grief have a way of transcending the cold, hollow and cruel rhetoric of politicians and military generals. In this one, Netream Netzleam embraces her one year old daughter, Razel, killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
The Israeli establishment stepped up its PR campaign along side its murderous assault on a largely defenseless and wholly captive population. But no matter how they mince words, Gaza is an open air gulag. A prison for a people who have been condemned by the world for decades. And the prisoners are periodically and collectively punished in order to insure that their spirit is sufficiently crushed.
From the plains of the American West, to the Warsaw Ghetto, to the killing fields in Indonesia, it is an oft repeated saga. The oppressor manages to deftly cast themselves as the victim, even as they rob, strangle, starve and plunder in the open.
This narrative has been necessary to carry out these crimes, for it is not only to convince the unconvinced. It is intended to soothe the conscience of the oppressor. It acts as both a balm and an elixir for the perpetrators of barbarity. The act of killing exacts an enormous price from both the victim and the victimizer. One is seen very easily, the other is most often obscured in some dark corner of the soul, waiting to emerge in the silence of night, or as an unanticipated flashback to the horror once inflicted.
No jingoistic narrative can sponge this image away. This mother’s sorrow is the very definition of injustice. It is a curse to the hawks of war. And it is a shroud of shame that suffocates our humanity as long as we remain silent in the face of such merciless savagery.
Kenn Orphan 2014
Photo by Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters