Today is the one-year anniversary of the first day of the Gaza siege. Many of us can clearly remember the horror: the first bits of news trickled in and protests exploded around the world out of solidarity and, possibly, guilt for not having acted sooner. Day by day, the death toll rose; I myself can remember climbing out of bed in the morning in fear of the new numbers I would read.
We were uninvited spectators; that I knew. We had forgotten about our suffering Palestinian brothers until the very moment they needed us the most, and even then our passion faded as the last gunshots left their barrels. Quietly we would wring our hands, whisper to each other in appropriate monotones, dig the last $10 out of our bags and leave them in the donation bin. Journalists and news networks couldn’t ignore us for our outspoken sincerity, for our solidarity and determination to make right by what was wrong and improve that which was broken.
But in the long run, what have we really done? Do we now remember the 1,205 killed? The 5,300 wounded? The countless families torn apart? The sobbing widow, the bereaved son, the grief-stricken orphan?
The pictures are what I look for now. Not ones of the dead, but of the living. The unwounded with dead eyes, who suffer empty, broken hearts still beating. What do they think, I wonder, when they hear of the rest of the Muslim world that casually turns a blind eye? Do they feel saddened? Outraged? Or perhaps they are accustomed.
As soon as the siege ended, we forgot, not because we didn’t care but because our apathy regrew. Year after year, Palestine needs us more than ever and we remain passive, convinced of our own helplessness. What could we have accomplished had we remained as unified as we were this day last year, December 27, and the 23 days that followed? It should be our goal to strengthen our resolve, the Muslim Ummah, and most of all, inspire the flickering light of hope in those who have seen nothing but darkness.