Do you still remember him?



Do you remember him? That boy? do you remember the video? That date of 30 September 2000 when if you didn’t cry for the Palestinians before, you learned to cry then. 

Muhammad Al-Durrah? The 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot dead in his father’s arms and over his lap by Israeli gunfire in Gaza? The boy that became an icon for the Intifada, the boy who made the world slowly realise that maybe there were no “two sides”, that there was an occupier and an occupied.   

I will not take up space repeating what happened nor the contested claims of who killed him. That has already been done, nor will I entertain Israel’s obfuscation of the issue. 

At a time when the world still desperately grasped onto the mesmerising millennium hangover and its promise of a new dawn, this tragedy snapped us back to deal with a disturbing omen. 

We praised the cameraman from the France 2 network at a time when cameras couldn’t stretch themselves wide enough to capture the ruining of Palestine. We hoped the camera would from now on hold the oppressor to account. But we were deceived.

We now got our wish of having crimes filmed, but it left out the desired response of accountability and accompanying moral questions. Every fortnight in this age, the camera captures a Palestinian killed by an Israeli soldier, but such videos will not get international condemnation, but it will get a retweet, subtweet if someone really cares. This is not including the invisible Palestinians who die daily and away from the camera’s lens. 

Al-Durrah was killed at a time when the Israeli government could at least partake in a charade that it gave a damn for the innocent killed and would address the matter. A time when traces of a moral crisis could be seen in then Prime Minister’s Ehud Barak’s words. When the IDF could actually apologise, even if they would later retract it. We knew the Israeli state was lying, but they had to make an effort to lie, they had to make an effort to explain to the west why they were still part of the west,  they had to explain why torture was legitimate. Now the world accepts this as normal, and therefore no need for further explanations from Israel. It’s raw unadulterated brutality.  

In fact, Israel can even deny the reality when its officialdom came out in 2013 and proclaimed the whole tragedy was “staged.”

The Palestinian death toll since 2000 has reached 9511 as of 26 September 2017, out of that figure, 2167 have been children. That is, 2167 Al-Durrahs who will not be remembered because pie charts and bar graphs do not sing nor weep to the human heart. 

The hyper-wired world has driven societies toward outrage fatigue, and Palestinians pay the price. Again. 

But we continue to raise our voices and hope for the tone-deaf cries to cave into, and be subsumed by, a resurgent and dynamic voice of justice that reanimates the moral landscape. Because the current state of indifference can only mean the self-inflicted shattering of our souls.

We march on.