An open letter to Israel

Man and woman look at bombed-out crater where home once stood

Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, 11 August.

Basel Yazouri ActiveStills

He who fights monsters should see to it that, in the process, he does not become a monster. — Nietzsche

Tell me, what steel entered your heart,
what fear made you rabid,
what hate drove out pity?

How could you forget
that how we fight a battle
determines who we become,
when did you grow reckless
with the state of your soul?

We are responsible for our enemy,
compassion is to consider the role
that we play in their creation.

If you prick us, do we not bleed?
… If you poison us, do we not die?
and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Strange, how one hate enables another;
how they are like unconscious allies,
darkly united in blocking out the Light.

Yes, we can lend ideas our breath, but ideals —
Peace, Justice, Freedom — require our entire lives
and, all who are tormented by such ideals
must learn to make an ally of humility.

Truth, and conscience, can be like large, bothersome flies
— brush them away and they return, buzzing louder
nearly 2,000 dead, in Gaza, 500 children
no, these are unbearable casualties to ignore

To speak nothing of the intangible casualties:
damage done to our collective psyche, trust, and sleep
no more nightmares, please, give us back our dreams
we can still begin, again, and must
wisdom is a return to innocence.

Yahia Lababidi, an Egyptian-American thinker and poet, is the author of five books in four genres ( Nominated for a Pushcart Prize by World Literature Today magazine, Lababidi has been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, and in The Guardian, among other places.