My Friend Greg

My friend Greg was a teacher
He showed me how to bandage a foot in the middle of the street
And which public spaces are best for naps
Greg taught me how to roll my first cigarette
And recommended I didn’t have second
He didn’t speak often
But he had a lot to say
Like how we Americans apologized too much
Embellished every accidental bumb with an unnecessary sorry
When there’s no need to ask forgiveness when no one’s hurt

A month and 5500 miles away
I wonder if he’s apologizing now
Saluting sorrys as bombs shudder on the Gaza strip
Load his rifle with regrets
As he patrols Israel for incoming rockets
When you put on that uniform, Greg
Do you wonder what the letters IDF really stand for?
You know what they’re calling us
We’re used to worm, plauge, kike
But Mass Murderer never came to mind as the next trendy anti-semitic slur
And now you must be wondering why I’m saying we
Because I’m in America
I’m in American
The cardboard box and all its layers I’m supposed to call home
But when you're Jewish, your revolutionary war started 2000 years ago

Today 119 rockets plummeted towards our villages
Our homes
Our children
Today there were 119 attempts to murder us
Yesterday they found that a terror tunnel destination was a dining hall
That the underground passageway’s machine guns led to dinner
The media starves for stories of the attacks of civilians
but fails to venture past the strip

The other night I found one of my old notebooks
engraved with anti-gym rants
My fastest mile was 15 minutes
You know that’s all we have 
15 minutes
sorry, my facts are skewed--
I meant 15 seconds
To scurry to a bomb shelter or be obliterated
Become one life closer to Hamas’ mission
Not to #freepalestine
but #killallthejews
I guess what sounded good in their charter
Doesn’t sound as nice on Facebook

But because Israeli 5th graders are faster than me
They don’t die
Just apologize
I’m sorry I survived
that my life doesn’t balance the statistics
that the New York Times, CNN, BBC
Can’t make me the sob story
I’m sorry my splattered skin will not decorate a call for humanitarianism
That my father built shelters for me instead of the weapons
That it was more important for us to live
Than to make you die

Is that what you’re saying Greg?
Are you the soldier who doesn’t thank God for breath
But exhales apologies, losing bits of your lungs with each victory
Because Jews are not allowed to win
We’re only the good guys when you can feel sorry for us
America doesn’t find us so cute when they’re not scooping up our bones
If we grow strong
Clenching never again in our hearts
We’re committing a genocide
But last time I checked
Wounded civilians left the Nazi’s hospitals
Not the other way around
They drenched us in lethal gas
Not evacuation warnings
We sweep up ashes hoping to hold our grandparents for the first time
And I know that I’m not supposed to talk about the Holocaust
That this is not about the Holocaust
Or pogroms
Or the exiles, inquisitions, the denial or degradation
Because that is the past
That is ancient history

But last time I checked
Night wasn’t written by Moses

I know this is about today
the middle east
Emotions weaken my argument
This is about numbers
But what are digits than how we count pages in the story of us
the text is out of context
I know that
But I also know that 8 year old me
Shouldn’t have bragged about her blonde hair
Because it meant survival in the next Holocaust
Palestinians call Hamas freedom fighters
Who believe homosexuals should be exterminated
Women should be subjugated
when 3 Jewish boys younger than Travyon Martin 
were abducted and murdered
they handed out candy in the streets
like it was 9/11
a national Holiday

I wonder how my classmates who post pictures of the violence of Syria
Linked to articles of about a massacre in Gaza
Would feel if they knew who they advocate for
Toasts to the death of their parents

But it’s not terrorism if the people you are trying to kill
Don’t have the right to be alive in the first place

I know that Palestinians are dying
That we are killing them
Do you know
when we notify an area to evacuate
Hamas orders
run to the target
Degrading bodies to rocket shields
valuing casualties
devouring off statistics
Each corpse an increase in legitimacy
The people you are giving legitimacy to
Are the 1%
The 1% as in billionaires
1% inside bomb shelters
bound in fresh food and warm fabric
wrapping the Palestinian struggle
Which is every bit as painful as ours
In an hateful, anti-semitic, murderous blanket

I’ve walked through the crematoriums in Birkenau
Examined claw marks stained on gas chamber ceilings
But when I read about burning temples
bomb proof playgrounds
or blood drenched kosher supermarkets
I wonder if this is the existence my grandparents survived for

I don’t understand using the oppression of one people
To crucify another
I know that we don’t look like the good guys
That we have an army
mowing down their child calvary
I know they deserve every breath
But when I think of Greg putting out that cigarette
I can’t see a baby killer
I know Gaza’s civilians are falling
And it’s not the same as the loss of our soldiers

But do you know my friend Greg?


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