A Moment of Truth

by Susan Abulhawa

Dissident Voice

March 18, 2003


Until eight o’clock last night I fantasized, no I prayed, that George Bush would indeed grant us, the people of the United States, a ‘moment of truth.’ 


The truth that this is not really a war because the world’s only super power pitted against a nation ravaged by twelve years of starvation, sanctions and relentless ‘low scale’ bombing, cannot be called a war.


I wanted to hear the truth that Iraq has done nothing to provoke our aggression.  I closed my eyes and begged that Bush would tell us the truth why he wants to pull out all journalists, because this invasion will mean bombs raining down on human beings who crouch and cower over their terrified children in whatever place they might guess to be a refuge.


Perhaps, I thought, there is still a chance to do the right thing.  Fess up George.  Israel has violated more UN resolutions than any other nation on the face of this planet and we have used our veto 76 times (half of those to shield Israel’s war crimes). Tell us, Bush, how you vetoed a resolution that specifically aimed to convene on the topic of international terrorism, to once and for all, define the damn word.  Or the Resolution that would authorize an observer force in the occupied territories to tell the world what’s really happening there (what Israel doesn’t want anyone to know) 


Tell us that Saddam was our guy and the gas he used on the Kurds came from us.  Tell us that your outrage over the Kurds is hypocritical since our government gassed it own too, in 1960, on a marine ship to see how troops might withstand a biological assault.  Or how we intentionally let men die in a study when they could have been saved by simple penicillin.  Or how we lynched, laced blankets with smallpox, and enslaved.  Or what we did in Panama.  Guatemala.  Nicaragua. Cambodia.


Will you name your key advisors who are intimately connected with the Israeli lobby? Or that Paul Wolfowitz’s wife is on the board of an Israeli propaganda organization called MEMRI? 


My heart turned to pure nerves and I prayed shaking, I swear, to God, for the truth.  The American people have been lied to, by our government and by our corporate media.  Open their eyes, Bush.  Do the right thing.  Rise to the grand office you occupy and don’t disgrace it.


But no truth came.  It was a filthy moment brimming with the same old lies, all discredited by UN inspectors, the plagiarized British “intelligence,” or the uncovered forged US intelligence.   


In the first 24 hours we’ll drop thousands of bombs on an area inhabited by millions of people, half of whom are children, and you want us to believe the great lie of “smart bombs.”  But the United Nations predicts a conservative one million Iraqi children will die in this invasion.  This number is over and above the one million who have already died needlessly due to the sanctions and the bombing of Iraq’s water infrastructure. 


And for what?  So we can drive gas-guzzling SUVs?


Death of one million children is not collateral damage.  It is a massacre. 


On the outskirts of this mindless inhumanity, Israel will be operating with even more barbarism (as if that is even possible) and expediency to implement its nefarious designs against a beleaguered and besieged nation of civilians screaming for freedom into the deaf ears of the international conscience.  Unreported by our disgraceful media is a small bit of legislation recently passed in Israel to confiscate funds that are transferred from international charities to their offices in Palestine that distribute food and medicine to people surviving on the brink of death. Why not make a little money while committing war crimes, eh?


It is with this gangster government that our President is partnered and this band of thugs and unscrupulous businessmen have usurped the truth.  They have hijacked our great nation and sold us on apocryphal divinity.  Now they trample onward, over our Constitution, and a plethora of international treatises and alliances that previous administrations worked tirelessly to forge.  I tremble in fear before the new world order.  


Fifteen minutes, devoid of truth or humanity, chilled me in front of my television and I sat there, listening to Peter Jennings ramble matter-of-factly on the technical details of our military monstrosity.  “The Iraqis will be shocked and awed in the first hours,” someone said.   We are attacking an army that we expect to fall in the first hours because we think this army is a threat to its neighbors (neighbors, which incidentally, do not support this war)?


My five-year-old daughter brought me tissue to wipe the tears and then asked me if the war was going to come to our neighborhood. 


“Of course not,” and I assured her of her safety.  But I was lying.  Injustice festers into madness that will visit us in the aftermath.  I believe this.


I kept thinking about Chris Hedges, who covered the Gulf War, and a poem he recited over murky waters from which an Iraqi woman was quenching her children’s thirst after we obliterated Iraq’s water treatment plants.


It is appropriately called “Epitaph of a Tyrant” by W.H. Auden:


Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after

And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;

He knew human folly like the back of his hand,

And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;

When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,

And when he cried the little children died in the streets.


And they will die in the streets.  And for what?  And why? 


Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian living in Pennsylvania. She is the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a non-profit organization dedicated to building playgrounds and recreation areas for Palestinian children living under military occupation. Email:  sjabulhawa@yahoo.com 



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