feels a bit like a waste of time.

Sometimes the feeling of impotence in the face of global dilemmas is just excruciating.

This is one of those times.

It seems to crop up every so often. It’s like tensions build and build in Israel and Palestine, and they start fighting, and people start dying.

And slick Israeli spokespeople get on news shows with their thick Israeli accents (that actually sound kind of German in a way) and they all say the same thing: Israel has a right to defend themselves.

And who can really argue with that?

And they’re right that no country on earth would tolerate rockets raining down on their cities… but they NEVER SAY WHAT THEY DO to instigate it.

They never talk about the way they keep the people in Gaza on the edge of starvation–calculating carefully, doling out just enough food per capita so that the people of Gaza don’t exactly starve–in an eerie reflection of what was done to Jews in the Warsaw ghettos by Nazis.

They never talk about how Israeli soldiers, during the last invasion, stole kidneys and other body parts from dead Palestinians because they could sell them for such a high price in Israel.

They never talk about how Israel rained down white phospherous on the luckless Gazans, in violation of international law.

They never talk about all the cluster bombs they dropped in southern Lebanon, that would burst as they fell, and drop little bomblets, the size of pommegranates or smaller, that were wrapped in shiny decorative foil so that kids would pick them up thinking they were toys and the bombs could do more maiming that way.


They don’t talk about these things. They ignore these things.

They’d like to pretend these things never happened.

They rely on a fickle public that has a VERY short attention span!

Instead they talk of PRECISION strikes. Of PINPOINT ACCURACY and their desire to SPARE casualties.

But I don’t believe them.


They don’t talk about the drones and missiles and random shots over heavily barbed fences that kill Palestinians on a regular basis–as if Palestinian life is cheap and we should only mourn when an Israeli dies.

And it will get worse.

And worse.

And in order to save my sanity I will avoid watching the news…

And yet I won’t be able to stay uninformed.

I will listen at the periphery, like I did with the tsunami, because part of me cannot bear to witness the carnage and yet the rest of me knows that it is wicked to live my life in safety and amusement while people are suffering so horribly.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the whole Muslim community is like one body, if one of it is hurting, the rest of it will feel the pain.

That’s what West does not seem to understand about us Muslims.

How can we sleep sound in our beds when the people of Gaza tremble in terror?

How can we fill our bellies with food while the people of Gaza, or Somalia, or Darfur, or Chechnya or the Rohingya in Myanmar or the Huigar in China, are constantly being slaughtered and persecuted?

How can we live our lives and not be affected?

And it isn’t just Muslim suffering either.

I watch the devastation of Sandy in New York, and I think of the people there suffering in the cold, without heat, without power, without water.

Without even the ability to flush their toilets.

And I rejoice at the 130 million they raised to alleviate their suffering and yet part of me wonders about that because they raised 40 billion for the people of New Orleans after Katrina.

And I pray for them too.

Last night I wrote about being blown away by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and today I’m wondering if that’s right.

Is it right to be reading literature at a time like this?

But then I think that this too shall pass.

And we must be prepared.

What can I do for the people of Gaza, except pray that God makes it easy for them. Pray that God gives them victory.

There is power in prayer.

And I can continue to try and write stories that humanize us Muslims, so it gets harder for Israelis and other nations to slaughter us so indiscriminately.

God says that oppressors should beware the prayers of the oppressed because there is no veil between the prayers of the oppressed and God. He hears them clearly. And He listens.

The last time Israel invaded, I was not at peace until the ceasefire had gone into effect, and I’m pretty sure it will be the same this time.

It breaks my heart.

And yes, I think it may indeed be appropriate to read Dostoyevsky.

Dostoyevsky deals with the poorest of the poor, with horrible conditions, with the injustice of life. He deals with the frustration of the weak in the face of gross misconduct, and the arrogance of Raskolnikov who thought he was justified in killing an old woman, because she was despicably cruel and exploited the misery of the poor.

Raskolnikov thought the ends justified the means.

And he thought that all men of greatness used bloodshed to destroy the societies before them, they broke the previous societies’ laws and were lauded for it, and he named in particular Napoleon and “Mohamat” which could only be a reference to my beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). He was so wrong in his characaterization of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and especially with lumping him together with Napoleon. And boy was it jarring to read such a passing reference, and read it in such derogatory terms–but then in 1886, how else would a Russian have viewed him?

You have to read Dostoyevsky with a certain amount of patience because it was written so long ago.

The writing is a translation–and you have to wonder how faithful it is. That’s one thing.

But also you have to remember that he’s writing about his country men, and all the snide comments the people make about Germans and Poles are nothing to the horrible things he himself says about Jews. And you nod your head and you think, “Ah, yes. We must forgive him because it was a different time. And every man is a man of his time.”

But we only forgive him because we like him.

When we like someone, when they have impressed us with their wit and insight, we can forgive them anything, it seems.

And isn’t that the way with things now?

‘We’ in the west do not ‘like’ the Palestinians as we ‘like’ the Israelis. We have not seen movies of the suffering of Palestinians like we have seen movies of the suffering of Jews in the holocaust.

And so the world looks the other way when an entity, as heavily armed as Israel, beats the crap out of tiny little Gaza.

And doesn’t that have everything in the world to do with Dostoyevsky?

And I read Crime and Punishment because I greatly admire the way Dostoyevsky was able to make such a flawed and arrogant character as Rodian Ramonovitch Raskalnikov as sympathetic and understandable as he did, because the Palestinians are flawed too. They are guilty of flagrant Islamic violations and it’s hard for me to approve of their tactics.

No matter what, Islam says, you do not attack civilians. You do not launch rockets at civilian populations. You do not rain terror down on people who are not actively fighting you.

It nullifies the legitimacy of your struggle.

Kidnap all the Gilad Shalits you want, but do not inflict TERROR! Even if the Israelis do that to you.

You MUST not stoop to their level.

Islam demands it.

But they don’t listen.

And part of me wonders, if I had suffered what they had, what I would do.

And I think that I have no right to judge.

And if it weren’t for my belief that God has power over all things, and that nothing happens, no one suffers, except that there is a reason for it and it is part of God’s plan–I think I would go nuts.


We must have patience.

And we must continue to strive. We must persevere.

And I will continue to pray.

And I will read Dostoyevsky, to learn. To figure out how he did what he did.

And maybe one day, I will have the wisdom to write as powerfully too.

Insha Allah.