Here’s Atef Abu Saif’s diary piece in Slate.com. It’s one of several missives we’ve had from Atef about life on the ground in Gaza during the terrifying invasion and arial bombardment by Israeli forces. At Comma, we’ve been working hard to help him get the word out to the press (particularly in the US and UK), so his side of the story can be heard.
“Eyad told me that one of the dead girls vanished completely; they found no sign of her body. No bones, no arms, no legs. Nothing that might suggest it belonged to her, that a little girl of 9 years existed in this place just a few seconds ago…
…Imagine it. Imagine what it must be like to be converted into a number. That you are not “Atef Abu Saif” any longer; you are “victim No. 568.” You are merely a digit in a much larger number, one that just keeps on growing. Your entire life is reduced to a number. In a crowd of other numbers, the importance of every number disappears, because what is important is the Big Number. Every time the sum increases, the unwritten exclamation mark that accompanies it grows bigger, and the unheard screams that accompany each one grow louder.”
I find it astonishing and humbling that he’s able to write so beautifully, and with such clarity, while he and his loved ones are in imminent danger. I guess that’s what really great writers do.
Many of the comments posted below the article make for depressing reading. But we’re trying to take heart from this, as it means Atef’s story isn’t just preaching to the converted, but reaching people who, for whatever reason, feel that the callous slaughter of Gazan civilians is somehow justified. I hope that Atef’s writing will plant a seed of compassion in their hearts.