What is a Mother to Do?

What is a Mother to Do? November 26, 2012

As a human being, the widespread violence in Gaza is distressing, to say the least.  As a mother, it is utterly heartbreaking. To see picture after picture of young infants and children, dead or gravely injured will shatter any mother’s heart. I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare that child’s own mother must be going through.

Often, when the Palestinian plight is mentioned, we are told “Keep them in your prayers,” yet it never seems like enough.  As I sit here in my own warm, safe home, and prepare for my cushion top, down filled nighttime abode, I am disappointed in myself. How can I just shut off the lights and fall asleep, as if nothing is happening?

Here I reside, a world away from the war torn terror that is home to countless Palestinians.  I have my own problems, to be sure. But there has to be more I can do for these people, who may not be my blood, but are nevertheless my brothers and sisters.

I lie awake thinking, trying hard to come up with something. But with two kids, I feel constantly stretched for time and energy. And, like many others with limited finances, I have neither the means nor the conviction to throw money at the problem.

Maybe the solution to this humanitarian crisis lies in the hands of mothers.

It started in 1948, with the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. What did those early Zionists learn from their own mothers? What made them think they could walk into someone else’s home, and simply take it by force? My own daughter is two years old, and she knows very well that she is not allowed to grab anything from her 9-month-old sister. It is simply unacceptable.

For the next 60+ years, violence became a way of life.  While the world watched, Israel continued its brutality, all the while making empty promises to appease humanitarian groups. They have come under criticism for their use of highly advanced military tactics and weapons against the under-armed, under-manned Palestinian “army.”  Over the decades, Israeli leaders have agreed to many cease-fires. And every single time they broke their agreement.  Did these leaders not learn to be truthful, and keep their promises? Isn’t lying considered a sin?

It is no secret that the Palestinians stand no chance against the strength and might of the Israeli army. A homemade Palestinian rocket is met with a military missile strong enough to wipe out countless homes, and kill entire families. These military leaders should have learned to play fair from a young age. You don’t pick on someone smaller. An eye for an eye is an axiom for all of mankind to live by. And yet, we hear accounts of soldiers coming face to face with women carrying infants, children, and elderly men and women in their own homes.  Can this even be considered a fight?

Notable Columbia University professor and cultural critic Edward Said wrote in 1999 “Violence, hatred and intolerance are bred out of injustice, poverty and a thwarted sense of political fulfillment… Palestinians are treated as inferior, as basically a sort of underclass existing in a condition of apartheid.”  Said was merely pointing out the obvious: that Israel looked down on Palestinians. This popular view is constantly perpetuated by its leaders, like former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who said in 1981, “[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.” The most effective way to convince a population to oppress a people is to dehumanize them.

I will teach my own children and I will pray hard for them to take these lessons to heart. They will learn not to take by force. Not to steal, or lie. Or hurt an innocent. Not to hurt anyone, or kill or destroy. Not to be proud, and know that we are all equal in God’s eyes. Perhaps if the mothers of our world leaders taught them these lessons, we would be facing far fewer problems. Allah knows best.

 Sameera Iqbal

Mother of two rambunctious girls under three. Went from producing network television to wishing there were two minutes in a day to sit down and watch it.

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