A Massacre is Not a Massacre

Earlier today, I came across a short poem-essay on Electronic Intifada by Ghassan Hage, a professor of anthropology at the University of Melbourne.  He  writes, with palpable irony, about the inverted narrative of Palestine – an inversion that manifests itself in a form of  ‘truth telling’ that is tantamount to lies.

A Massacre is Not a Massacre

I don’t write poems but, in any case, poems are not poems.

Long ago, I was made to understand that Palestine was not Palestine; I was also informed that Palestinians were not Palestinians; They also explained to me that ethnic cleansing was not ethnic cleansing. And when naive old me saw freedom fighters they patiently showed me that they were not freedom fighters, and that resistance was not resistance. And when, stupidly, I noticed arrogance, oppression and humiliation they benevolently enlightened me so I can see that arrogance was not arrogance, oppression was not oppression, and humiliation was not humiliation.

I saw misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp. But they told me that they were experts in misery, racism, inhumanity and concentration camps and I have to take their word for it: this was not misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp. Over the years they’ve taught me so many things: invasion was not invasion, occupation was not occupation, colonialism was not colonialism and apartheid was not apartheid.

Continue reading “A Massacre is Not a Massacre”