30 November 2023

Open Letter to Jewish Voice for Labour – Palestinian Resistance Is Not Criminal Nor Is the Taking of Israeli Captives

What is Criminal is the Incarceration of Thousands of Palestinians and the Hannibal Directive Under Which the Israel Army Killed Hundreds of its Own Citizens

Prison Breakout October 7

Dear JVL,

I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. Nonetheless I consider myself a critical supporter. It is in that spirit that I view with dismay the motion that JVL’s Executive has proposed on the ‘Gaza War’ at your AGM this weekend.

I know that it is a minor point but it is important to point out that in the language we use we don’t unwittingly lend support to the Zionist narrative. There is no war between the people of Gaza and the Zionist state. What has been taking place since October 7 is a one-sided slaughter in which thousands of non-combatants, including children, have been slaughtered in a campaign that has defied every tenet of international law.

Socialists have always supported unconditionally the right of people under occupation to resist their occupiers. That does not mean that that that support is uncritical but any criticism which we make is premised on our support.

Contrary to the lies of the mass media that babies had been beheaded, no baby died on October 7th, unlike the incubator babies that Israel killed in Al Shifa Hospital

I was therefore astounded that JVL’s Executive sought to characterise the attack on October as ‘criminal’. According to whose law? Israeli law? Of course the colonial occupier characterises resistance to its occupation as criminal but I am surprised that JVL should join them.

The right to resist is recognised in numerous resolutions of the UN General Assembly as well as the Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions (1977). Article 1(4), classifies conflicts in which peoples are fighting against alien occupation and racist regimes as armed conflicts in which individuals engaging in such “fighting,” if captured, should be afforded the status of prisoners of war.

Israeli forces shot their own civilians, kibbutz survivor says

It is not necessary however to resort to international law to understand that just as the French and Czech people had the right to resist the Nazis, just as the American colonists had the right to resist the British and the African slaves had the right to resist their overseers, so the Palestinians too have a right to resist Israel’s Apartheid regime.

Between 1791 and 1804 slaves in Haiti and Santo Domingo overthrew slavery, in the course of which they slaughtered every single French white person. I would hope that if the JVL Executive had been around at the time that you would have supported the slave uprising even if you had deplored much of the killing that resulted. The same is true of October 7 when the Palestinians of Gaza broke out of their prison.

As you are well aware Gaza has been occupied for over half a century. For the past 16 years Israel has imposed a starvation blockade and bombed the territory regularly (‘mowing the lawn’) causing thousands of deaths. What right have we to call an uprising of Gaza’s people ‘criminal’?

In 2018 when Palestinians in Gaza took part in the peaceful Great Return March over 300 were mowed down by Israeli snipers and thousands more were disabled by illegal Israeli ammunition. We all remember Razan al-Najjar, the 21 year old medic gunned down by Israel as she was tending to the wounded.

Great Return March

Israel holds approximately 8,000 Palestinian prisoners, 3,000 of whom have not even had the luxury of a ‘trial’ in a military court where the conviction rate is over 99%. By what feat of intellectual gymnastics are Palestinians forbidden to take Israelis prisoner when so many of them are imprisoned? This sounds very much like Jewish Exceptionalism. We support the Palestinians whilst they are nobly suffering but the moment they fight back we call them criminals.

The motion from the JVL Executive, which talks of ‘Hamas’s killing of up to 1,200 Israeli residents, mostly civilians’ is simply wrong. According to the Times of Israel approximately one-third of those killed were either soldiers or police.

It is an open question as to how many of the remaining 800 civilians were killed by Israel itself as part of the infamous Hannibal Directive which decrees that it is better to kill an Israeli captive than have them taken prisoner and later swapped for Palestinian prisoners.


Israelis in Tel Aviv 26 7 2014 There's no school tomorrow,there's no children l

We know for a fact that at Kibbutz Be’eri tanks were brought in to shell the houses where Israelis were being held captive with the result that those held hostage died along with their captors.

There is also considerable evidence that Apache helicopters strafed concert goers and cars indiscriminately. How then can the motion ascribe the deaths on October 7 solely to Hamas when Israel acknowledges it bombed its own bases when they fell under Hamas control?


Israeli forces shot their own civilians, kibbutz survivor says (Full with subtitles)

I also find the sentence ‘Israel’s military onslaught is no surgical operation targeting the militants responsible for October 7’ (my emphasis) very strange. It implies that if Israel had launched a surgical as opposed to a genocidal attack on Gaza then JVL would have supported it!

In the list of demands in the bullet points at the end of the resolution JVL calls for the release of the (Israeli) ‘hostages’ but refers to Palestinian ‘detainees’. Why the difference? Are you implying that Palestinian prisoners are lawfully detained? That they are not  hostages?

It is to be hoped that this resolution falls or is withdrawn. Israel’s siege and occupation of Gaza are unlawful and it is therefore the right of Hamas and any resistance group to resist that occupation.


Tony Greenstein

See Israeli forces shot their own civilians, kibbutz survivor says

What really happened on 7th October?

Starmer’s Double Standards

Emergency motion on the Gaza War

This AGM rejects attempts by Israel and its Western backers to portray the death toll inflicted on Gazans since October 7 as justified by Israel’s claimed “right to defend itself”. Hamas’s killing of up to 1,200 Israeli residents, mostly civilians, and the taking of more than 200 hostages were criminal acts. But Israel’s military onslaught is no surgical operation targeting the militants responsible for October 7. It is a vengeful retaliation by a government openly bent on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

This ongoing catastrophe stems directly from the consistent policies of the Israeli settler-colonial state for decade after decade. It has stolen Palestinians’ land and their water. It has demolished their homes. It has imprisoned, tortured and murdered them and attempted to obliterate their culture. It has created a vast open-air prison in Gaza and now turned it into an open-air grave. Israel wants Palestinian land without Palestinians.  In closing off all forms of non-violent resistance to their apartheid policies the Israeli state has set the conditions for the current disaster.

We deplore the proliferating attempts to silence Palestinians and those who stand in solidarity with them by accusations that they are motivated by antisemitism. It is Israel, a state, not the Jewish people worldwide, that is carrying out the shamefully indiscriminate butchery in Gaza.

We reject the hypocritical arguments from politicians, Tory and Labour, who talk of international law while ignoring obvious war crimes, and who propose only temporary interruptions, so-called “humanitarian pauses”, in the genocide. We welcome the negotiated release of some hostages and detainees and any easing of the blockade. But only a permanent ceasefire can open the way for an end to decades of injustice. A lasting peace, bringing security, dignity, equality, justice and freedom for both to Palestinians and Israelis, requires: (Bold is my emphasis)

·          an end to the Israeli bombardment and siege of Gaza

·          release of the hostages

·          release of Palestinian detainees in Israeli gaols, many held without charge or trial

·          an end to Occupation and Apartheid

·          the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Moved JVL Executive Committee 

27 November 2023

Stop the Genocide Stop the Ethnic Cleansing

Brighton & Hove Trades Council Demonstration Against the Silence of Brighton & Hove Council in the face of Israel’s Nazi style murder campaign 

The Genocidal  'Friendship Song' which Calls to Annihilate Everyone in Gaza

Two weeks ago, Brighton and Hove Trades Council held a demonstration outside Hove Town Hall against the Council’s silence over the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

So far 15,000 Palestinians including more than 6,000 children have been murdered in Gaza. Another 23,000 at least have been injured. This does not include those who are buried under the rubble. This is equivalent to one and a quarter million if it were Britain. 

Not to be missed - Max Blumenthall Interview on Going Underground – What Really Happened on October 7

The Guilty Ones - Not one of these 38 Labour Councillors Has Condemned Israel's Genocidal Attack on Gaza or its Ethnic Cleansing - You Can Contact Them By Email

In response the Labour Group issued a mealy mouthed statement calling for a ‘humanitarian’ as opposed to a permanent ceasefire. Whilst condemning the Palestinian attack on October 7th the statement had nothing to say about Israel’s genocide in Gaza or the open declaration of its leaders that the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza was its objective.

This is in contrast to the over 600 Labour Councillors nationally who had written to Starmer demanding that he call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

If anyone was in doubt about this then the article by Gila Gamliel, Israel’s Intelligence Minister in the Jerusalem Post on 19 November, Victory is an opportunity for Israel in the midst of crisis, should have laid any doubts to rest.

The statement had nothing to say about the calls for extermination of Palestinians in Gaza such as the video on Israel’s main broadcaster Kan by Israeli school girls that called for the annihilation of all Palestinians in Gaza which included a host of Nazi themes such as love sanctified by blood. There was Netanyahu’s comparison of Palestinians with Amalek who god commanded should be wiped out to the last child.

Despite the fact that large numbers of the Israelis killed on October 7th were killed by their own military – see here, here and here – under the Hannibal Directive, Israel has called the 1,200 Israelis killed as the largest massacre since the Holocaust.

This deliberate weaponisation of the holocaust in the service of ethnic cleansing defiles the memory of Jews who died in the holocaust, not because they were ethnic cleansers or oppressed anyone but because they were Jews.

Israelis who were the target of Hamas on October were attacked because Israel has been in occupation of Gaza for 57 years and has laid siege to the territory for 17 years.

It is also not true that October 7 was the biggest death toll of Jews since the holocaust. 6,000 Israelis died in the 1948 War of Independence or Nakba and more died in 1973 in the Yom Kippur War. The holocaust has been weaponised in order to justify genocide.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has refused to condemn the genocide, quite the contrary, he supported the blockade of food, water and fuel in his notorious interview with LBC.

This is why Brighton and Hove Trades Council are organising a demonstration outside a full meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council on Tuesday 28 November at 4 pm.

Tony Greenstein

26 November 2023

The Metropolitan Police Have Taken it Upon Themselves to Decide What We Can & Can’t Read as Books are Seized & Those Selling It Are Arrested

 It Must Have Been Something I Said! Jo Wadsworth of the Anti-Palestinian Brighton and Hove News Threatens to Report Me to the Police!

The Met arrest stall holders selling a book with a Swastika and Zionist Star of David Intertwined - Who the Hell are These Thick Bastards to Decide What We Can and Cannot Read?

All I did was to send Jo Wadsworth of Brighton and Hove News an email giving a link to my blog. True I headed it ‘ENJOY RACIST SCUMBAG’ but that was no reason to respond in the way she did:

Oh no, Tony "notorious antisemite" Greenstein has called me a bad name. How will I ever recover?

To which I responded that this was a good question.  I suggested that the answer lay in Wadsworth ‘Probably (by) gorging on the blood of the children in Gaza.  I should think that would be good recipe for you to try’.

 She had after all been perfectly happy with a multitude of comments defending Israel’s bombardment of hospitals, ambulances, homes and schools, its food, water and fuel  blockade and the murder of over 6,000 children and thousands of adults. In other words collective punishment, a flagrant breach of international law.

Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews in Jerusalem's Mea Sharim Display the Palestinian Flag - If they had been Palestinians the Police would have opened fire

It appears however that Ms Wadsworth is a more sensitive soul than I had given her credit for. She didn’t seem to take my comment that she was wallowing in the blood of thousands of children at all well.

Okay Tony I usually find your insults entertaining in a pathetic kind of way. But that's crossed a line. I'm now asking you not to contact me again and if you persist I will report you to the police.

It seems to have become the latest fashion amongst Zionists to report anything I say to the police. In fact I’m thinking of saving them the trouble and time by designing a handy form which they can email to the Police explaining why they have problems with freedom of speech.

First there was Heidi Bachram and now Jo Wadsworth. Who will be next?

At the same time the Metropolitan Police have decided that they have the right to decide what literature can be openly sold on Zionism at today’s demonstration and what posters can be displayed. According to the Met:

Images were shared on social media showing literature being distributed which featured a swastika inside a Star of David. Officers later spotted the same literature at a stall in Whitehall and arrested four people on suspicion of distributing material likely to stir up racial hatred.

The people they arrested were from the Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist Leninist  [@cpgbml]

I wasn’t aware that intertwining a Swastika and a Zionist Star of David graphically was a criminal offence. As I wrote in my book, Zionism During the Holocaust:

In the spring of 1933, Baron Leopold von Mildenstein, a member of the SS, and Kurt Tuchler of the ZVfD [German Zionist] Executive and their wives, boarded a train at Berlin to travel to Palestine. Tuchler had tried to persuade Mildenstein to write ‘something positive’ about Palestine in the Nazi press. Mildenstein agreed, provided that he was able to visit Palestine first. He stayed for six months and was clearly impressed by the “new Jew.

On his return, Mildenstein published a series of 12 articles in Joseph Goebbels’ paper, Der Angriff, from 26 September to 9 October 1934 under the by-line von Lim’ [Jacob Boas, ‘A Nazi Travels to Palestine’]. This trip was the subject of an article in the eminently respectable History Today of January 1980. Mildenstein served as head of Abteilung 112/II, the Jewish department (Judenreferat) of the Sicherheitsdienst, [SD] from the summer of 1935 to August 1936. Indeed so pleased were the Nazis with the trip that they struck a medal to commemorate the trip.

It is perfectly legitimate to argue that Zionist ideology and Nazi ideology share a lot in common. The Zionists admitted this themselves. On 21 June 1933, the German Zionist Federation wrote a letter to Hitler in which they explained that:

Zionism has no illusion about the difficulty of the Jewish condition which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one’s own tradition… an answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural and moral renewal of Jewry… On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race... fruitful activity for the fatherland is possible. Our acknowledgement of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we don’t wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we too are against mixed marriages and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group… The realisation of Zionism could only be hurt by resentment of Jews abroad against the German development. Boycott propaganda… is in essence fundamentally unZionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build.’

The full letter can be found in Lucy Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, pp. 150-153.  Who the hell are the Metropolitan Police to decide we can and cannot read? Of course it will give offence to Zionists to be reminded of the times when they had close fraternal relations with the Nazi State. However this is part of the historical record and only in Police States do thick coppers decide what people can and cannot read and see.

25 November 2023

Brighton School Students Strike Against Genocide & the Murder of Children in Gaza

Young People in Brighton Protesting Against the Murder of Children in Gaza had to Put Up With an Attack by their Own Headteacher Shelly Baker 

It is remarkable how age does not confer wisdom. As Shelley Baker, Headteacher of Brighton’s Varndean School demonstrated, sometimes people immature with age.

I came down at about 10.30 to Jubilee Square in Brighton, where the Library is situated, to find  about 200 school students sitting in a square listening to speakers talking about how children, 40% of Gaza’s population, had died in their thousands because of Israel’s genocidal attack.

These youngsters had taken half a day off school to express their solidarity with their compatriots in Gaza. The strike had been organised by, amongst other groups, Parents4Palestine.

You might think that any Headteacher worth their salt would have expressed their support and admiration for the courage and integrity of these young people. Unfortunately this was not the case.

In her Welcome and School Ethos Shelly Baker explains that

Varndean School is a place where all people matter…. A school where individuality is welcomed, celebrated and shared amongst our whole school community…. Student leadership, democracy and student voice are central to the way our school works. We believe that developing leadership skills in all students will help us nurture young adults who, in turn, will become respected, trusted and kind citizens.

Unfortunately these fine words were just that – words. As Neil Young wrote they are ‘words between the lines of age’. Meaningless interruptions of thought signifying nothing as is often the case with mission statements.

In her letter addressed toVarndean families Baker paid tribute to

‘young people’s involvement in democratic processes (but) we do not support students leaving school to strike

Perhaps someone should explain to Baker that striking is part of the democratic processes she refers to!

The rest of the letter went from dismal to dire to execrable. A school students strike to protest against the genocide of children in Gaza was turned into a ‘safeguarding’ issue. Who was to be safeguarded? Jewish and Israeli school students apparently. Baker wittered on:

We have been working hard in school to educate students in being sensitive to all students and understand how this impacts Jewish and Israeli students.

Shelley Baker - Head Teacher Varndean School

This is a classic example of anti-Palestinian racism. Whenever colonial violence is mentioned or referred to then immediately ‘anti-Semitism’ is brought up. As if that is what Jews now stand for. Israel is not a fucking Jew. It is an American sponsored Rottweiler in the Middle East. As Joe Biden put it, if Israel was not there it would have had to be invented. That is why the United States supports Israel, whatever it does, through thick and thin.

Baker went on about ‘the significant rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents.’ as if there is a connection between opposing genocide of Palestinian children and anti-Semitism in Britain.

Indeed, unwittingly, Baker herself was giving an excellent demonstration of the very anti-Semitism she was purportedly opposing. Her letter assumed that opposition to the murder of Palestinian children and anti-Semitism went together. In other words that Jews support the murder of Palestinians.

If that was the case then so what? It would be tragic that those who were the victims of extermination 80 years ago had now become the supporters of genocide. But if Shelley Baker were to open her eyes she would see that thousands of Jews worldwide have expressed their opposition to what is being done in their name.

Jewish Voice for Peace in the United States has led the sit-in and demonstrations of thousands of Jews in Congress. In Britain there is a host of Jewish organisations – from Jewish Network for Peace, Jewish Voices for Labour, Jews Against Genocide etc. – who formed part of a thousand strong bloc on the last demonstration in London.

What Shelley Baker along with her New Labour/Starmerite friends is doing is repeating the racist tropes of the now discredited Suella Braverman, the most racist Home Secretary that Britain has ever had the misfortune to experience. It is of note that all the racist schemes such as the Rwanda Project and the Public Order Act 2003 were supported by Keir Starmer and his supporters.

What Baker was saying was that if you oppose racist murders then you are a racist because the racists might take offence! We should turn a blind eye for fear of offending the racists.

If there are Jewish people who support what is happening in Gaza and unfortunately there are who go by the name Zionists, then shame on them. They should not be pandered to but condemned outright. However it is not anti-Semitic to oppose genocide.

I therefore wrote a letter to Shelly Baker asking her if she ever considered that the ‘reported rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents’ might have something to do with people like her. I wrote:

Has it never occurred to you that it is the association, by people like you, between British Jews and what Israel does that is responsible for the increase in anti-Semitism which you mention in your letter?

Are you not aware that every single human rights organisation from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch to Israel’s B’tselem have described Israel as an apartheid state? How come someone so ignorant of the world around her is head teacher of a major school in Brighton? …

Yes Israel describes itself as a Jewish State. South Africa 40 years ago described itself as a White State. Did that mean that every White person outside South Africa was implicated in the crimes of Apartheid? So why do you associate Jewish people in this country with what is a Jewish Supremacist state called Israel?

In the 1930s the pro-Zionist Daily Mail campaigned vociferously against the 'bogus' Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany - today they attack other refugees and asylum seekers

You mention the presence of Israeli students at your school. If you had had White South African students studying at the school would that have been a reason for keeping silent on apartheid? Would the presence of German students in British schools in the 1930s have been a reason for keeping quiet about the Nazis’ anti-Semitism?

Large parts of the British Establishment 90 years ago thought exactly like you do now and refused to even mention the Nazis’ policies towards Jews.  I refer to the BBC and The Times, to say nothing of the Daily Mail and Express  which campaigned against the entry of Jewish refugees from Germany.

I continued to explain that it was people like Shelly Baker who were in part responsible for any increase in anti-Semitism.

It is ironic that a letter that talks about ‘sensitivity’ towards Jewish students ends up repeating the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews are responsible for Israeli war crimes.

I concluded my letter by saying that

instead of pouring cold water on democratic initiatives on the part of your students it might be better to welcome them as a sign of their maturity. Would that the same could be said for some of their elders.

I asked Baker to withdraw her letter and apologise. There were by all accounts very many letters, not least from parents, along similar lines.

Taken aback by these letters Shelley Baker apologised, not for what she had written but for ‘giving offence’. In so doing she compounded her original crime, writing that the letter was written in haste but

It was important to address our immediate safeguarding concerns about an event organised outside of our school

You can take a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. There were no safeguarding concerns. Certainly not in respect of Jewish students and the insinuation that Jews were  put out by a strike against genocide was both racist, anti-Semitic and insulting.

Yet Shelley did not seem to understand, in her slow-witted, insensitive response. Instead of seeing her role as one of encouraging participation and debate, she sees herself as a controller and manager. An administrator reacting to the disruption of normal rhythms and routines by finding Jews as a peg to hang her frustrations upon.

I therefore wrote back to her tonight saying that the problem with her letter was not that it caused offence. This is the language of the enemies of freedom of speech. As Sir Stephen Sedley ruled in Redmond Bate v DPP (2000)

“Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having”.

I pointed out to Baker that

sometimes it is necessary to give offence if justice is to be done. If Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks hadn't offended White racists in Alabama and the Deep South Black people would still be segregated in cafes and buses.

If Palestinians don't stand up to the neo-Nazis in Tel Aviv, the ones who march to the chant 'Death to the Arabs', in just the same way as my grandparents faced mobs chanting 'death to the Jews' in Poland, then the Palestinians will suffer a second Nakba… My grandparents were lucky to escape Poland in 1912 and thus avoid the Holocaust. Thousands of Palestinians are dying and have already died in Gaza and your students should be praised, not admonished, for having stood up for them.

What I take exception to is the way it is assumed that school students who have the courage and integrity to stand up against genocide taking place today in Gaza are attacked, by their head teacher no less, for posing a safeguarding threat to Jewish students. That is intolerable….

you have no business equating opposition to genocide, bombing of hospitals, medics, ambulances etc. with anti-Semitism. Are you really saying that Jews bear a responsibility for the actions of the Israeli state? 

I finished by asking Baker to withdraw her letter and apologise

‘not for the offence it caused but (for) its contents. We all live and learn and I hope that you do so too.

The demonstration was also reported in the on-line Starmerite Brighton and Hove News Scores of children skip school to call for Gaza ceasefire. If the article was not bad enough then the comments below it were vile. Despite being organised by Parents4Palestine one commenter wrote that it was  ‘Basically grooming children into taking one side over another in a foreign religious conflict.’

Grooming children is not normally associated with their parents. An even more vile comment, by Pink Mermaid asserted that  the attack on 7 October included ‘The Israeli babies that Hamas roasted in ovens. Or the 80% of children that were tortured 80% and beheaded.’

Needless to say this comment was also deleted

All of this atrocity propaganda has been disproven not least by Israel’s own statistics. No child under 3 died. Very few under 18 died. Compare this with the thousands of Palestinian children who Israel subsequently murdered. Perhaps Palestinian babies are also Hamas ‘terrorists’? That was the opinion of the vile commenters.

The paper is edited by an ardent Starmer supporter Genocide Jo Wadsworth who has supported every American war going – from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya and beyond. Unfortunately Brighton’s local paper The Argus doesn’t seem to cover local news anymore since it is produced mainly from Portsmouth.

I submitted a few comments all of which were removed by Genocide Jo. Clearly the only comments that are allowed are racist, bigoted and Islamaphobic ones. All in the cause of fighting ‘anti-Semitism’.

When I came to Brighton half a century ago Brighton and Hove had 3 Tory MPs and a Council controlled by the Conservatives. Today the  Tories are a rare species Two MPs are Labour (though Peter Kyle in Hove is to the right of most Tories) and the other is Britain’s only Green MP Caroline Lucas. Brighton & Hove is a liberal city which is known as Britain’s Gay Capital.

It would appear that all the racists and reactionaries that we spent time evicting have found a home in Genocide Jo’s rag.

But we should be proud of the fact that though some of their elders are crusty reactionaries, young Brightonians are carrying on the tradition of radicalism which saw a 3,000 march for Palestine a couple of weeks ago and a multiplicity of activities in support of the Palestinians and against Genocide, including a sit in at the rail station and next Tuesday a picket of the clones in the local Starmerite Labour Group who control the Council and who have so far said nothing about the ongoing genocide.

Below is a story from a child in Gaza about what is happening.

Tony Greenstein

Jo Wadsworth, Gaza, School Strike, Brighton & Hove News, Shelley Baker, Varndean School, Suella Braverman, JNP, JVL, Jews Against Genocide, Stephen Sedley, Starmer, Genocide

I wake up. I'm still alive. And I ask myself, is that a good thing?

Nowar Diab

Gaza Strip

November 16, 2023

Noar with her grandfather’s battery-operated radio. Photo provided by Noar Diab.

The windows are always open, to avoid the danger of shattered glass. Every morning I am woken by an obnoxious fly buzzing around the room. It gets louder the closer it is to my ear. Sleep is very precious because I get so little. Therefore, it is annoying to be deprived of it by an insect.

I get up and feel irritated. I wonder how I managed to sleep at all through the sound of my grandpa’s annoying radio. Every Gazan family has the same battery-powered radio. It is our source of information when there is no electricity or internet. I really hate that radio because of what it represents. It makes me feel so tense, because we only use it during times like these: when we are under attack and when people we love are dying.

I go to the bathroom. I wash my face using a Coca Cola bottle that I filled with water. Then I go to the kitchen to make coffee with the small amount of water I have left in the bottle. I sit there in the kitchen alone and drink it with feelings of guilt — because water is very scarce and some people are going days without drinking anything.

Next is the hardest part of my daily routine. I contact my friends one by one to check if they are still alive. I have to prepare myself mentally before I start messaging them. I do this out of habit, although I know it is in vain. I feel very anxious wondering whether I will ever get a response back.

I keep calling my best friend Maimana because I heard that there had been a bombardment where she is staying. I try again for the thirtieth time but her phone is still not ringing. She has no connection. I feel afraid for her safety and my heart starts pounding. I repeatedly tell myself that it will be okay and she will call me back when she has a connection.

Eventually, the rest of my family wakes up. I am no longer alone. We sit together and have our daily conversation about which neighborhoods Israel bombed last night. It is our morning ritual to catch up on what happened during those precious three hours of sleep.

There are 14 of us staying together in a relative’s house. Each of us has a chore to perform in the morning. The men go to the bakery to try and find some bread. Then they take the empty bottles and tanks to the well to fill them with water. Meanwhile, the women start doing the dishes, cleaning the floor, and preparing lunch.

Lunch depends on whether there is bread or not. Mostly there is not. Our options are limited, but at least we have options. Some aren’t so lucky and we hear about people suffering from malnutrition.

My mom calls and sounds like she has been crying. I ask if she’s okay and she tells me that she is. I know she is lying to me. My uncle takes the phone and goes into another room. I immediately know that something is wrong. My heart feels heavy for the rest of the day. I have a feeling that my family is acting weird and holding something back from me.

We receive internet connection just for limited periods throughout the day. Each time we are reconnected, I rush to text my friends, check the news online, and post on social media about what is happening to us. We are bombarded with the same questions about Hamas and the seventh of October. This shows a complete lack of understanding from the Western media about what is happening to us.

The internet is disconnected again. So like every other normal Palestinian family living through this struggle, we play cards while the stupid radio tells us what is happening via news reports.

I have the urge to ask my family if they know something that I should know about. But I hold back because I am scared that the news will break my heart. Instead, I go to the balcony so that I can listen to my favorite song. Hymn to Gentrification by Faraj Suleiman. This song feels like talking to someone who understands my agony.

My solitude is interrupted by a phone call from a friend. I pick up but it doesn’t connect so I leave it. I kept listening to the song and telling myself that everything is okay. I know that is a lie. I have a dreadful feeling in my stomach.

Maimana and Noar. Photo provided by Noar Diab.

My phone rings again. It is the same friend. I pick up and this time we are connected. “Is it true that Maimana and her family have been killed?” My heart falls and shatters into a million little pieces. “No, no. Who said that?” I reply, while tears fill my eyes. “Everyone,” he said back to me. I scream and the tears start falling from my eyes.

She was my very best friend. I loved no one like I loved her. At that moment I feel like I have lost everything. It hurts how you can be talking to someone and they get killed the next day. The memories we shared start playing back in my mind. I can hear her laugh. I remember singing in the car with her mum. It is all too much, and I break down.

This is the second time in as many weeks that I get the news about losing a loved one. The first time was my dear friend Abraham. He was unlike anyone else: funny, clever and with such a big heart. I can’t describe the feeling when you get this type of news. It’s shattering – like when you drop a plate and it breaks into many pieces.

It always gets worse at nighttime. That is when the horror begins. We all sleep together in the same room, because it feels safer. I try to sleep through the noises of heavy bombing sounds and news reports on the radio. My eyes get heavier and heavier. And then my mind eventually gives up and I drift off to sleep.

The next morning I wake up. But this time there is no annoying buzzing around the room. The fly had been scared away by the bombing overnight. And I get up to face another day of heartache and listening to my grandfather’s radio.

Correspondence Below