Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Of sowing and harvests: Subcomandante Marcos' speech on Gaza

Two days ago, the same day we discussed violence, the ineffable Condoleezza Rice, a US official, declared that what was happening in Gaza was the Palestinians' fault, due to their violent nature.

The underground rivers that crisscross the world can change their geography, but they sing the same song.

And the one we hear now is one of war and pain.

Not far from here, in a place called Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, right here next to us, the Israeli government's heavily trained and armed military continues its march of death and destruction.

The steps it has taken are those of a classic military war of conquest: first an intense mass bombing in order to destroy "strategic" military points (that's how the military manuals put it) and to "soften" the resistance's reinforcements; next a fierce control over information: everything that is heard and seen "in the outside world," that is, outside the theater of operations, must be selected with military criteria; now intense artillery fire against the enemy infantry to protect the advance of troop to new positions; then there will be a siege to weaken the enemy garrison; then the assault that conquers the position and annihilates the enemy, then the "cleaning out" of the probable "nests of resistance."

The military manual of modern war, with a few variations and additions, is being followed step-by-step by the invading military forces.

We don't know a lot about this, and there are surely specialists in the so-called "conflict in the Middle East," but from this corner we have something to say:

According to the news photos, the "strategic" points destroyed by the Israeli government's air force are houses, shacks, civilian buildings. We haven't seen a single bunker, nor a barracks, nor a military airport, nor cannons, amongst the rubble. So--and please excuse our ignorance--we think that either the planes' guns have bad aim, or in Gaza such "strategic" military points don't exist.

We have never had the honor of visiting Palestine, but we suppose that people, men, women, children, and the elderly--not soldiers--lived in those houses, shacks, and buildings.

We also haven't seen the resistance's reinforcements, just rubble.

We have seen, however, the futile efforts of the information siege, and the world governments trying to decide between ignoring or applauding the invasion, and the UN, which has been useless for quite some time, sending out tepid press releases.

But wait. It just occurred to us that perhaps to the Israeli government those men, women, children, and elderly people are enemy soldiers, and as such, the shacks, houses, and buildings that they inhabited are barracks that need to be destroyed.

So surely the hail of bullets that fell on Gaza this morning were in order to protect the Israeli infantry's advance from those men, women, children, and elderly people.

And the enemy garrison that they want to weaken with the siege that is spread out all over Gaza is the Palestinian population that lives there. And the assault will seek to annihilate that population. And whichever man, woman, child, or elderly person that manages to escape or hide from the predictably bloody assault will later be "hunted" so that the cleansing is complete and the commanders in charge of the operation can report to their superiors: "We've completed the mission."

Again, pardon our ignorance, maybe what we're saying is beside the point. And instead of condemning the ongoing crime, being the indigenous and warriors that we are, we should be discussing and taking a position in the discussion about if it's "zionism" or "antisemitism," or if Hamas' bombs started it.

Maybe our thinking is very simple, and we're lacking the nuances and annotations that are always so necessary in analyses, but to the Zapatistas it looks like there's a professional army murdering a defenseless population.

Who from below and to the left can remain silent?

Is it useful to say something? Do our cries stop even one bomb? Does our word save the life of even one Palestinian?

We think that yes, it is useful. Maybe we don't stop a bomb and our word won't turn into an armored shield so that that 5.56 mm or 9 mm caliber bullet with the letters "IMI" or "Israeli Military Industry" etched into the base of the cartridge won't hit the chest of a girl or boy, but perhaps our word can manage to join forces with others in Mexico and the world and perhaps first it's heard as a murmur, then out loud, and then a scream that they hear in Gaza.

We don't know about you, but we Zapatistas from the EZLN, we know how important it is, in the middle of destruction and death, to hear some words of encouragement.

I don't know how to explain it, but it turns out that yes, words from afar might not stop a bomb, but it's as if a crack were opened in the black room of death and a tiny ray of light slips in.

As for everything else, what will happen will happen. The Israeli government will declare that it dealt a severe blow to terrorism, it will hide the magnitude of the massacre from its people, the large weapons manufacturers will have obtained economic support to face the crisis, and "the global public opinion," that malleable entity that is always in fashion, will turn away.

But that's not all. The Palestinian people will also resist and survive and continue struggling and will continue to have sympathy from below for their cause.

And perhaps a boy or girl from Gaza will survive, too. Perhaps they'll grow, and with them, their nerve, indignation, and rage. Perhaps they'll become soldiers or militiamen for one of the groups that struggle in Palestine. Perhaps they'll find themselves in combat with Israel. Perhaps they'll do it firing a gun. Perhaps sacrificing themselves with a belt of dynamite around their waists.

And then, from up there above, they will write about the Palestinians' violent nature and they'll make declarations condemning that violence and they'll get back to discussing if it's zionism or anti-semitism.

And no one will ask who planted that which is being harvested.

For the men, women, children, and elderly of the Zapatista National Liberation Army,

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, January 4, 2009.


Anonymous said...

Is this really written by Marcos? I would be surprised because it lacks all sophistication and fails to explain anything. Which is a huge contrast to their usual texts.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, why don't you read it again.

It is very sophisticated, and explains everything!

Tony Herrera said...

Hi Kristin,

Do you have a copy of the Spanish text version of Subcomandante Marcos' speech?

Congrats on your blog, I've added it to my feeds.



Anonymous said...

The statement fails to treat the situation as a conflict, fails to illuminate anything about why the conflict is taking place, who the actors are, what their power or strategies or goals are, what alternatives there are, and etc. It´s just ridiculous. Many others are calling for immediate cease-fires, including the Israeli Peace Movement, Meretz and Gush Shalom. They have written intelligently from an anti-war position. The Marcos statement fails to say anything. It is an ahistorical piece against war in general. Yes, we are against war, but what can we say about the situation and how can we improve it? This he leaves vague and unaddressed.

Anonymous said...

What Marcos is saying is that the Zapatistas are on the side of people who are oppressed everywhere and that the real issues i.e. capitalism, imperialism etc.. get muddled in the capitalist media with things like zionism, anti-semitic etc..
I also think that Marcos is trying to internationalize the struggle and relate what is going on in Gaza to what is happening everywhere. He is being general because the freedom of Palestine will take the liberation of Chiapas, and the freedom of both these places will take the destruction of international capitalism.

mg.zink said...

There is no hope for this kind of supremacist terror that israel is inflicting on the Palestinian people to stop until WE (Amerikkkans) look into the mirror and see our our settler past. Every battle that the Indigenous people here won was called a massacre but when the "pioneer" "settlers" won it was a battle right?????? WE taught the Nazis the fine art of genocide with our trail of tears, and Pine Ridge, and blankets ripe with small pox. Whole nations no longer exist thanks to the putrid lying european white supremacy. Now Jews that once were on the receiving end have learned how to do to others what was once done to them.

This is what I mean when I say the problem with the left is that it is a "settler" left - NOT because they "settle" for the less of two evils but rather because even the so called left has it's roots both here and in Europe in a "settler mentality.

My husband once posed the question "What do you think those men on the "frontier" were like when they went back home to their families? After raping, scalping, cutting babies from their mothers wombs, making pouches from the private parts of both males and females - what were they like with theirs wives or their children? Now ask yourself what the israelis will be like now, now that they and WE are collectively responsible for what follows!!!!!!!!!!!

Unknown said...

Here is the original--it's an excerpt from a longer speech he gave.

De siembras y cosechas.

Tal vez lo que voy a decir no venga al caso de lo que es el tema central de esta mesa, o tal vez sí.

Hace dos días, el mismo en el que nuestra palabra se refirió a la violencia, la inefable Condoleezza Rice, funcionaria del gobierno norteamericano, declaró que lo que estaba pasando en Gaza era culpa de los palestinos, por su naturaleza violenta.

Los ríos subterráneos que recorren el mundo pueden cambiar de geografía, pero entonan el mismo canto.

Y el que ahora escuchamos es de guerra y de pena.

No muy lejos de aquí, en un lugar llamado Gaza, en Palestina, en Medio Oriente, aquí al lado, un ejército fuertemente armado y entrenado, el del gobierno de Israel, continúa su avance de muerte y destrucción.

Los pasos que ha seguido son, hasta ahora, los de una guerra militar clásica de conquista: primero un bombardeo intenso y masivo para destruir puntos militares ?neurálgicos? (así les dicen los manuales militares) y para ?ablandar? las fortificaciones de resistencia; después el férreo control sobre la información: todo lo que se escuche y vea ?en el mundo exterior?, es decir, externo al teatro de operaciones, debe ser seleccionado con criterios militares; ahora fuego intenso de artillería sobre la infantería enemiga para proteger el avance de las tropas a nuevas posiciones; después será el cerco y sitio para debilitar a la guarnición enemiga; después el asalto que conquiste la posición aniquilando al enemigo, después la ?limpieza? de los probables ?nidos de resistencia?.

El manual militar de guerra moderna, con algunas variaciones y agregados, está siendo seguido paso a paso por las fuerzas militares invasoras.

Nosotros no sabemos mucho de esto y, es seguro, hay especialistas sobre el llamado ?conflicto en Medio Oriente?, pero desde este rincón algo tenemos que decir:

Según las fotos de las agencias noticiosas, los puntos ?neurálgicos? destruidos por la aviación del gobierno de Israel son casas habitación, chozas, edificios civiles. No hemos visto ningún bunker, ni cuartel o aeropuerto militar, o batería de cañones, entre lo destruido. Entonces nosotros, disculpen nuestra ignorancia, pensamos que o los artilleros de los aviones tienen mala puntería o en Gaza no existen tales puntos militares ?neurálgicos?.

No tenemos el honor de conocer Palestina, pero nosotros suponemos que en esas casas, chozas y edificios habitaba gente, hombres, mujeres, niños y ancianos, y no soldados.

Tampoco hemos visto fortificaciones de resistencia, sólo escombros.

Hemos visto, sí, el hasta ahora vano esfuerzo de cerco informativo y a los distintos gobiernos del mundo dudando entre hacerse patos o aplaudir la invasión, y una ONU, ya inútil desde hace tiempo, sacando tibios boletines de prensa.

Pero esperen. Se nos ha ocurrido ahora que tal vez para el gobierno de Israel esos hombres, mujeres, niños y ancianos son soldados enemigos y, como tales, las chozas, casas y edificios donde habitan son cuarteles que hay que destruir.

Entonces seguramente los fuegos de artillería que esta madrugada caían sobre Gaza eran para proteger de esos hombres, mujeres, niños y ancianos el avance de la infantería del ejército de Israel.

Y la guarnición enemiga a la que quieren debilitar con el cerco y sitio que se está tendiendo en torno a Gaza no es otra cosa que la población palestina que ahí vive. Y que el asalto buscará aniquilar a esa población. Y que cualquier hombre, mujer, niño o anciano que logre escapar, escondiéndose, del asalto previsiblemente sangriento, será luego ?cazado? para que la limpieza se complete y el mando militar al mando de la operación pueda reportar a sus superiores ?hemos completado la misión?.

Disculpen de nuevo nuestra ignorancia, tal vez lo que estamos diciendo no venga, en efecto, al caso, o cosa, según. Y que en lugar de estar repudiando y condenando el crimen en curso, como indígenas y como guerreros que somos, deberíamos estar discutiendo y tomando posición en la discusión sobre si ?sionismo? o ?antisemitismo?, o que en el principio fueron las bombas de Hamas.

Tal vez nuestro pensamiento es muy sencillo, y nos faltan los matices y acotaciones tan necesarios siempre en los análisis pero, para nosotras, nosotros, zapatistas, en Gaza hay un ejército profesional asesinando a una población indefensa.

¿Quién que es abajo y a la izquierda puede permanecer callado?

¿Sirve decir algo? ¿Detienen alguna bomba nuestros gritos? Nuestra palabra, ¿salva la vida de algún niño palestino?

Nosotros pensamos que sí sirve, que tal vez no detengamos una bomba ni nuestra palabra se convierta en un escudo blindado que evite que esa bala calibre 5.56 mm o 9 mm, con las letras ?IMI?, ?Industria Militar Israelí? grabadas en la base del cartucho, llegue al pecho de una niña o un niño, porque tal vez nuestra palabra logre unirse a otras en México y el mundo y tal vez primero se convierta en murmullo, luego en voz alta, y después en un grito que escuchen en Gaza.

No sabemos ustedes, pero nosotros y nosotras, zapatistas del EZLN, sabemos lo importante que es, en medio de la destrucción y la muerte, escuchar unas palabras de aliento.

No sé cómo explicarlo, pero resulta que sí, que las palabras desde lejos tal vez no alcanzan a detener una bomba, pero son como si se abriera una grieta en la negra habitación de la muerte y una lucecita se colara.

Por lo demás, pasará lo que de por sí va a pasar. El gobierno de Israel declarará que le propinó un severo golpe al terrorismo, le ocultará a su pueblo la magnitud de la masacre, los grandes productores de armamento habrán obtenido un respiro económico para afrontar la crisis y ?la opinión pública mundial?, ese ente maleable y siempre a modo, volteará a mirar a otro lado.

Pero no sólo. También va a pasar que el pueblo Palestino va a resistir y a sobrevivir y a seguir luchando, y a seguir teniendo la simpatía de abajo por su causa.

Y, tal vez, un niño o una niña de Gaza sobrevivan también. Tal vez crezcan y, con ellos, el coraje, la indignación, la rabia. Tal vez se hagan soldados o milicianos de alguno de los grupos que luchan en Palestina. Tal vez se enfrente combatiendo a Israel. Tal vez lo haga disparando un fusil. Tal vez inmolándose con un cinturón de cartuchos de dinamita alrededor de su cintura.

Y entonces, allá arriba, escribirán sobre la naturaleza violenta de los palestinos y harán declaraciones condenando esa violencia y se volverá a discutir si sionismo o antisemitismo.

Y entonces nadie preguntará quién sembró lo que se cosecha.

Por los hombres, mujeres, niños y ancianos del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
México, 4 de enero del 2009.

Tony Herrera said...

Gracias Kristin! You are awesome.

: )


Anonymous said...

"... Zapatistas are on the side of the oppressed everywhere.."

What about the Palestinians in Gaza who are oppressed by Hamas, such as the teachers whose unions were destroyed by repressive measures?

"the freedom of Palestine will take the liberation of Chiapas, and the freedom of both these places will take the destruction of international capitalism.

And be replaced by the nationalist capitalism of Hamas?

Anonymous said...

The palestinians elected Hamas.

Anonymous said...

Marcos wrote: "According to the news photos, the "strategic" points destroyed by the Israeli government's air force are houses, shacks, civilian buildings. We haven't seen a single bunker, nor a barracks, nor a military airport, nor cannons, amongst the rubble. So--and please excuse our ignorance--we think that either the planes' guns have bad aim, or in Gaza such "strategic" military points don't exist."

Please let Marcos know that Hamas hides weapons in Mosques:
"Israeli ground forces who entered the premises following the attack found a mass stockpile of weapons, including Qassam and Katyusha rockets."

source: http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054778.html

Unknown said...

That Haaretz article is flimsy at best.

Haaretz' editorial line is laid bare by all of the surrounding op-ed columns and "news" quoting "experts" who say Israel isn't using disproportionate force.

The article leads off saying that the IDF discovered a tunnel meant to transfer suicide bombers across the separation wall. Palestinians jump that wall every day to get to school and buy necessities. The discovery of a tunnel under the border wall during an Israeli blockade that has cut off supplies to Gaza and is slowly starving people to death does not mean that it's a tunnel for suicide bombers, and neither the IDF nor Haaretz provide any sort of evidence that it was for suicide bombers. As for that woman killed for "trying to harm a soldier," it doesn't say what harm she was trying to do to the soldier. Vague and suspicious. It's a common war tactic, utilized by most invading armies like the US or Israel, to call everyone they kill an insurgent.

As for the "mass stockpile" of weapons recovered from the mosque, how many comprise a "mass stockpile"? In Mexico, when the government seizes weapons or drugs, they hold a press conference and display all of the weapons and drugs they seized, and they always state the numbers. Where are the numbers in this story?

I didn't even read the rest of it because its cheerleading was making me ill.

Please don't start pro-IDF, pro-war trolling on my blog. This is not a forum for supporting the large-scale slaughter of innocent people. You'll find friendly reception for your views in just about every massive media outlet in the world. Not here.

Anonymous said...

Well the trolls are Israel's fifth column, and the foreign ministry has called up its reserves of laptop bombardiers to fight electronic wars on behalf of Israel.

I think most of Latin America commiserates with Palestine, which has been at the receiving end of US-made weaponry of the most advanced and destructive calibre. The US used Vietnam and Panama as its testing grounds for these weapons, and Israel did the same in Lebanon, and is continuing the evil in Gaza. It's like Josef Mengele writ large.

An even darker history is Israel's dirty arms dealing and training of genocidal armies such as that of Argentina in the 1970s, and El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s. In both cases, Israel was a major arms supplier at the height of the dirty war and the Mayan genocide. This was happening even when Argentina's torturers were targetting a large number of Jews, given their fascist roots and Nazi sympathies. In Guatemala, Israel actively maintained its relations with the military dictators, training Guatemalan armies in counterinsurgency techniques, thus linking the atrocities against the Mayans to the slaughter in Sabra and Shatila that happened at around the same time.

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