Sorry Is the Hardest Word, But Only If You Mean It
By Margo Sabella for MIFTAH
August 01, 2006

The problem with the world today is that words are fluid and resonate empty. There is no excuse for the mass murder of civilians and innocent children other than the fact that world leaders seem to think that Lebanese and Palestinian children are easy currency in this conflict.

The images of dead children flashed across Arab TV screens all day Sunday and showed nothing but dusty lifeless children, who just a day before may have been flying their kites and enjoying ice-cream in the Lebanese village of Qana. Normal children in abnormal circumstances. The luck of the draw and they were born into a life barely lived and conflict is all they knew of it.

Even if families were forewarned about a military strike, why is it so hard to fathom that a family would rather risk staying in their home, than become refugees somewhere unknown to rely on the mercy of relief organizations and the kindness of strangers? Not only did the house cave in in yesterday’s Israeli operation on Qana, killing children and women, but the blame is somehow laid flatly at their feet; they were told to vacate, yet they stayed, so they must be a legitimate target – and those who issued the ultimatum are thus vindicated! What compelled these people to knowingly stay in their village, despite the certainty of an air strike? Was it faith in God? Was it faith in humanity? Ordinary people sadly believing that the hollow compassion of decision makers and world leaders actually amounts to anything? The romantic notion of leaders standing for the rights of the downtrodden is sadly the substance of legends and fairy tales.

It is hard to breathe sometimes, hard to imagine a world where injustice is so prevalent and yet every press conference, whether by American, Israeli, European or even Arab officials could have been written by any one of us, almost verbatim. The rhetoric of “we are doing this for your own good,” does not go down well with the Arab masses. What of the European public? I hardly believe that masses in the UK or France, or elsewhere in Europe are as naïve as their governments imagine them to be – the American public is another matter, sometimes they seem to be irredeemable. How does one react to atrocities that say one thing loud and clear, while words put a spin on these events that is so falsely transparent we can only suppose that these officials must be living somewhere on another planet and only come down to earth, occasionally, to save us from our own folly, or so they would think?

War is nothing but a test field; that is what one of my old history teachers used to say in class. He always got his wrist slapped by the school administration for veering off the curriculum and actually teaching us something worthwhile; a lesson we could carry with us for a lifetime. Things are not as they seem. There is a reason for the war; or better put there is a reason not to have peace and not to use diplomacy. Today, the perversity of world leaders has lead us to believe that they do not wish for peace, that they never did and possibly never will.

The stores in Ramallah and Jerusalem have decided to shut in protest Monday, people in Palestine are outraged at what is happening in Lebanon and can only wonder that once Israel has satisfied its thirst for violence and killing there, when will our turn be again. The loss of life and destruction we see on TV is so graphic that you can almost smell the decaying bodies in the dusty Middle Eastern air traveling from the South of Lebanon to the heart of Palestinian territory. Palestinians, as everyone else watching Al Jazeera, are incredulous, but not entirely surprised, as to why no one has intervened to stop Israel from inflicting more destruction on the innocent.

Sorry, like peace, is just another word that has been recycled too many times to mean anything to anyone anymore. If you were truly sorry, then would you not demand an immediate unconditional ceasefire? So, spare us the contrived apologies and the artificial outcries and rage; we do not want to hear your supposed words of compassion, for they ring hollow in our ears. When you are ready to become a human again, please inform us, until then, no one wants to hear another peep out of you.