Tragedy OR Travesty?

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Another Headline from the United Palestine Appeal this time, of all people.

“Statement on Tragic Events in Palestine and Our Response”

What do we usually call a tragedy? Usually in classical terms, it is when the hero oversteps because of hubris and does himself fatal damage. The Everest Climber who stays too long at the summit, overestimating his strength- that is a tragedy. The Titanic speeding through a field of ice bergs, that ends in tragedy. Or the tightrope walker who overbalances over Niagara Falls, that too is a tragedy.

In every case, the hero is not intending harm to himself or to others. The tragedy is because noble intentions have gone awry. That is what makes it so tragic. But tragic is the suffering the hero mostly brings to themselves. Look for a tragedy and a flawed hero is not far away.

When Charles Manson hypnotized his followers to brutally murder Sharon Tate and friends, was that a tragedy? Not at all. It was a deliberate act of terror and murder. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, was that a tragedy? Not at all. Imagine FDR’s speech being “A tragedy that will live in infamy.” No, when someone deliberately sets out to do harm to another, it might be tragic for the victims but “tragic” is not the correct term. They had no say in it.

If by tragic we mean “sad”, OK but that is pretty lame. We don’t call the Holocaust tragic or the Vietnam war tragic. Slavery was not tragic. We denounce them as travesties, and call out the perpetrators.

So “Tragic Events in Palestine” is a euphemism for torture, terror, and trauma. Call it any of these names but please, do not call it tragic. There is nothing tragic about it. To call it that is to minimize it the way Palestinian suffering is usually treated, as their own fault, or something no one could help, or not worth as much as others suffering so we can discount it. One Israeli dead is worth 9 dead Gazan kids, kind of exchange we see so often.

The events in Palestine are a lot of things but they are not “tragic.” They are not the result of hubris, overconfidence, or an Achille’s heel. They the the deliberate results of government policy of ethnic cleansing that goes way back to Jabatinsky, to silence the people they are oppressing and occupying and eventually drive them from their homes. To finish the Nakba project, in other words.

Tragic does not cut it. Try on something else for size: “Statement on disturbing Events in Palestine and Our Response” NO, too tame. “Statement on Anti Palestinian Events in Palestine and Our Response.” Maybe “Statement on Travesty in Palestine and Our Response” That sounds stronger. “Statement on Nakba-2021 Events in Palestine and Our Response” Even better.

But folks, keep tragic for the COVID nurse who dies nursing his mother, or the firefighter lost to flames in Colorado. Nothing that Israel is doing to Palestine is tragic. Nothing. And what the Palestinians are suffering? There is nothing tragic about that. It is a diabolical event and needs to be called out as such.

5Loai Ahmed, Nan Whalen and 3 others1 CommentLikeCommentShare

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