I answered the call — the call to help bring the names and the faces of those killed by the State of Israel since October 2015 to the public. We need to do what the politicians are unwilling to do; we need to do what the press is incapable of doing. We have an obligation to expose; to bring into the mainstream the horrific acts of a state; a racist state and its unconscionable treatment of another people. Some of these victims are citizens, some of them neighbours, all of them human and dammit, some of them are my friends.
I came into Toronto to participate. I came to make a statement. I came because there is something terribly wrong with living in a country where not only the ruling party, but the party that it replaced were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in parliament decrying the nerve of those who would question the actions of a state; that state being the state of Israel.
I had promised my Palestinian friends, much like the parliamentarians appear to have promised their Israeli friends, that I would talk about what I had seen and experienced everywhere I went. The only difference between my promise and the Parliamentarians is that my eyes were open and I had actually spent time in Israel and in Palestine. I witnessed first hand the brutal occupation. So I joined those gathered in Toronto to put names to faces; to put faces to names and to expose the face of the state of Israel.
While we were standing there, one hundred plus, forming a line down Yonge Street along the edge of Dundas Square; it occurred to me that there was no media. I had this realization (though nothing new), after a pedestrian came up to the woman next to me, looked at the placard with a picture of the murdered child she had hanging around her next, and smiled.
She asked him what he thought was so funny. Why was he smiling at a picture of a dead child. He stood and stared at her, then at the picture and back at her again. His smile widened. Again she asked, “Why? Why do laugh at a dead child?”
“I am not laughing.” he said, ” I am from Israel. I am smiling because out of all these pictures, I don’t see any dead Israelis.”
This was not the first time I had heard this type of comment, and I am sure it will not be the last. I wanted to tell him that the reason there were no Israelis in the line up was because we already knew who they were. Each Israeli death received ample coverage; far more coverage than those Palestinians that were killed; Palestinians whose pictures were hanging around our necks. It was now a time to remember the Palestinian victims.
This whole exchange reminded me that there was no media covering this action, an action that remembered the Palestinians that had been killed; that were being killed.
I decided to tweet and asked the question, “We have the faces with names. Where is the press?” I sent it out to The Star, The Globe and Mail, CBC News. It was retweeted by others and more news outlets were added.
I told others that I had sent the tweet. I told them that the media would surely appear. We waited. About half an hour passed when down the street, from the top end of the line, came a camera man and a reporter from Global News. They walked the length of the line. Once they reached the end, I was sure they would turn around; start filming the lineup, and ask us what we were doing there. They did not turn around rather, they stood a few feet from the bottom of the line and started interviewing people on the street. I was overcome with curiosity and made my way to the bottom of the line hoping to determine what it was they were doing.
I watched them interview a young couple. It was a short interview. As the couple left, I approached them to ask them what was it that the reporter asked them.
“If pit-bulls should be banned.” the girl answered while scurrying away.
I smiled to myself, much like the Israeli had at the picture hanging around the neck of the woman I had been standing next to. Had he still been there, I might have said, “And there you have your answer!” but I am sure he would not understand; would not want to understand.