When I was a little Babe I shared a room with SOBB, my little sister, two years younger.
My chief occupations as a young girl/boy were reading books that were at least a decade too old for me and often sexually frank, if not pornographic (ie -- The Godfather, Candy, Blue Movie, Tropic of Cancer, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care) writing adventure stories and suicidal poetry, practicing my spying skills and fantasizing about running away from home.
My sister's chief occupations were playing school, playing mother, singing and talking to her dolls.
Aside from the basic fact that as my younger sister she barely deserved to live, SOBB -- who is my best friend today -- was absolutely the world's most annoying person. I, on the other hand, was a budding sophisticate. As a result, most of our discourse was nasty. Yelling, shouting, insulting and name-calling were our main modes of communication and there was plenty of hand-to-hand combat as well.
When things reached a certain pitch we approached our mother to mediate. Instead of offering cool diplomatic conflict resolution, her reaction invariably was something along the line of "Go ahead and kill each other for all I care!" delivered between bared and gritted teeth.
Which invariably shocked us into declaring an immediate ceasefire.
I am reminded of my mother's reaction as I read the headlines out of Gaza, which get more and more horrific by the minute. Instead of building an infrastructure for their oppressed people, the Palestinians have decided to turn on each other -- Fatah vs Hamas, brother against brother -- each vying for leadership of their fragile nation, executing each other in the street, tossing handcuffed prisoners off highrise buildings, killing UN workers, lobbying grenades, missiles and mortars at key installations in a nihilistic bid for supremacy.
Also, conducting a form of torture -- according to today's front page New York Times article -- known as "kneecapping," which I had to look up on-line. So, what is kneecapping? Shooting someone through the back of the knees.
Watching from the West, I cannot help but recall the words of the great Abba Eban who famously quipped that the late, corrupt PLO chairman Yasser Arafar "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
After conducting a fairly successful decade-long public relations campaign where they managed to explain their lack of social infrastructure by portraying themselves as victims of Israeli aggression and occupation and even raise support for an obscene lie -- that the suicide bombers they were producing were but a symptom of an oppressed, desperate people, hence, morally defensible and ultimately Israel's own fault -- the Palestinians have fallen down on the job, severely wounding their own image as victim of imperialistic outsiders.
Turns out that they are their own worst enemy.
I just tuned into Haaretz.com to see the latest in this explosive situation, which has not yet been called a civil war by observers, but is surely that, if not the Palestinian version of Armageddon. What I learned, in addition to the escalation in fighting and the threat by Hamas to invade Abbas's compound, is that Israeli security forces revealed that in late May it caught two Palestinian women on a suicide bombing mission to Tel Aviv and Netanya.
Both are mothers. One is pregnant, with eight other children. The other fabricated a medical reason for her travel to Ramallah to be fitted with an explosives belt. Both hail from Gaza.
Mazel Tov, btw, to Human Rights Watch, who woke up to brand the activities of Fatah and Hamas over the past few days as crimes against humanity and war crimes. It was the gun battles that were being waged near hospitals, the tossing of shackled people off of rooftops, the misappropriation of press markings on a vehicle to be used in an attack against the IDF, the habit of killing civilians and other such activities which led HRW to speak out.
The long-ago battles I used to wage with my little sister are the stuff of stories we both tell our our children, much to their amusement. The stories are funny now because it is obvious that we have grown out of that primal rivalry/hatred into soul-sisterhood. The stories are also funny because of our mother's un-PC reaction to our warring...and our own penchant for offering intervention services to our own children.
What is not funny in the least is what is happening in Gaza. Brother versus brother, a fight to the death. A twist in the Palestinian narrative that somehow reveals an uncomfortable truth that lies beneath the other narrative that has been neatly presented to the West, a narrative in which the chief offender has been Israel, a narrative in which it all might have turned out differently if only....
Within the bedroom of Gaza, Palestinian brothers have marked each other for destruction. Within the house of Gaza, young mothers leave their children to strap on belts of death and devastation This is not a story with a happy, heartwarming ending. No one is going to laugh when they look back at this scene.
Watching from the West, I hear the long-ago message of my mother, delivered through gritted, bared teeth telling the warring siblings to go ahead and kill each other for all she cares.