You might think I am crazy because I chose to write about animals and their rights in Gaza while humans have no right, well you might be surprised how both are closely linked together.Many have this misconception that the word “humanity” concerns humans only which is totally wrong, being human –in my opinion- means treating everything with humanity.
I have been fancying about the crazy idea of writing about animals for a while now, what brought it up is a poor little black puppy that suffers from a broken leg and came to settle down under the building I live in. This poor puppy thought he is at a safe shelter, he didn’t know he would be the target of every passing person and the target of huge wild dogs at night.
I was born and raised in Europe where people and animals have nearly equal rights (I bet you thought I was about to talk about the equality between genders here, but what I am saying is that humans and animals nearly have the same equal rights). Animals are respected and treated in such a way that animal brutality is considered a “crime”. But animals in Gaza, well that’s a different story to tell.
When I first came here I was shocked with the amount of donkeys I saw. I was used to horse carriages but never saw donkey-carts before so it was all new to me. We brought back our cat with us to Gaza so it’s clear that my family and I are animal lovers.
I wouldn’t generalize my accusation by saying all Gazans are brutal to animals, some are animal lovers too and they own one pet or more but you do witness animal abuse here not because the people love to abuse animals but because they think it is okay and it is the way to do things.
Seeing children chasing cats and dogs to throw rocks at them or pull them from their tails or perhaps smack them against something was very shocking to me, also most of the donkeys pulling those heavy carts are either ill with skin diseases or dirty or suffering from animalistic anorexia. (Animals do suffer from Anorexia too, am not making this up I googled it).
Then as I started growing up I decided to learn more and dissect those facts to see what stands beside them and you will be shocked like I was shocked when I thought about it. To make it simpler, yesterday I asked a little boy about the reason behind his torture to a helpless injured black puppy in the street. I thought the boy was 13-15 years old but later found out that he was younger but sounded and looked older. He looked at the sky and had no direct answer for me, when I pushed for an answer he started laughing and being sarcastic but when I pushed some more and acted serious he just looked down. He kept playing with a rock by passing it between his hands until he answered me back with a question : “What else do you expect from me?”.
He continued, “I see people dying every day here In Palestine, animals are killed too so why should I care? Why cant I just do like everyone else and torture that dog? So what if he dies? Who cares? Why isn’t his mother protecting him? Who will stop me?”. And the questions never ended. I asked him why he considered Gaza as Palestine when Gaza alone isn’t Palestine and his answer came in such a sarcastic way which clearly indicated he was making fun of me when he said., “isn’t Gaza Palestine?”. After asking me about the west bank he claimed he never saw it, all he saw was Gaza so why would he care about the west bank or other countries, I asked him: “Do you believe in God”, he nearly punched me while answering “FOR SURE”, I told him we don’t see god yet we believe in his existence. He went silent for 2 seconds and then started shouting, “Why do I have to keep hearing about stuff, the world, countries, dolphins, life, freedom, safety, traveling and so many stuff that we will never ever ever see or experience ha?”. Honestly, I was shocked and I didn’t know what to answer. “I saw my cousin, his wife and all of his kids and neighbors die in 2009 so why should I care about a lousy animal? People die and you care about your damn dog? I don’t care if he dies right then and there”. He was very angry and decided to leave running in the opposite direction.
How could I ask Gazan children to treat animals in a humane way when animals abroad are treated in a better way than them? How could I ask them not to torture animals when Israel tortures Palestinians everyday and they even kill animals? How could I ask them to be human when everything in their life teaches them to be tough and cruel? How could I teach them to be fair to animals when Israel and the world aren’t being fair to them?
How could you expect a child to be good to a dog when he witnessed the genocide of many people whom he loved and care for and the world did nothing to protect him or them? How could I tell him not to torture animals when Israel killed even animals during Gaza’s assault in 2008-2009?
There is an Arabic expression that says: “He who doesn’t have a certain thing, cant be a giver of this same thing”. Give us humanity and be fair to us then come tell us to be humane. Why would you care for an animal when you saw your whole family murdered by Israel for no reason? Why would care for an animal when Israel shoots animals all the time? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
But I do believe in small things and that being humane cant be partial, if you want to be a human you have to be humane towards everything. Maybe if we open the first huge animal rights organization in Gaza it can make a change or an impact. Maybe this will lead us to opening a huge humane organization in Gaza that protects humans. Maybe the animal rights organization will attract more western attention that will be linked to the protecting-humans organization which will lead for more powerful pressure. Its sad and pathetic, I know but what other choice do we have?
Why cant Gazan children experience freedom? Or humanity? Why cant they sleep feeling safe? Why cant they be free to travel and experience touching a real dolphin rather than seeing a foreign child touching this dolphin? Dont they deserve to be happy and secure like the rest of the children around the world? Why do you blame them for not being humane enough when you showed them all the reasons not to be human for? Why ask them to be more humane when you’re killing them and killing their loved ones? Why kill their humanity then ask them to revive it? Its like swamping a recovering alcoholic with ridiculous amount of booze.
Here is a video showing Gaza Zoo after Gaza war 2008-2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUH29KVz7Rk
All the pictures above -except for the fake zebra- show animals killed during Gaza war 2008-2009 by Israeli gunshoots and tanks. Even animals werent safe.
Two years ago (2009), a story surfaced from Gaza that left the world laughing at us but left us crying at ourselves and the level of desperation we have reached. A zoo owner decided to paint a few donkeys with black stripes to make them look like Zebras. This man wanted to make Gazan children smile and feel that they aren’t forgotten, he wanted them to experience something new, something other children around the world take for granted. He knew he was faking Zebras but all he cared about is making those children smile after being traumatized by Israel’s war on Gaza that same year. The memories were so fresh and vivid that he wanted to help those kids move on so bad. He lied and pretended that those were real Zebras.
See The video here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNjidijtL1I
When will Gazans have equal rights with animals around the world? Ooooops sorry let me rephrase that: when will Gazans have equal rights with humans around the world? I remember reading Vittorio Arrigoni’s first blog posts from Gaza, he asked why does the world go crazy if a child trapped a cat in a box and smashed that box and care more than caring about the children of Gaza who get slaughtered in awful ways while the world watches?
Should you care about them just like you care about an injured puppy if u were a real human?
Vittorio was clever enough to come up with this title for one of his books about Gaza: “Stay Human”. He knew that humanity is missing in Gaza, not missing from people’s hearts but missing in how Gazans are treated.
May you rest in peace Vik.