I Am Not a Jew

POETRY FORMAT, 28 Jul 2014

Maung Zarni – TRANSCEND Media Service

A poem in honor of the indomitable spirit of fellow humans who are being killed by Israel while being locked up in the Zionist concentration camp – called Gaza.

I am not a Jew.
But I felt the pain listening to my German friend telling me of how 1,000 Jews in Munich became among the first victims of Hitler’s regime in a single night.
I am not a holocaust survivor’s relation
but I felt the pain walking around Ravensbruck
where thousands of Jewish women and girls perished in gas chambers.

I am not a Khmer.
But I felt the pain where I walked around Killing Fields
I am not a Khmer Rouge survivor,
but I felt outraged listening live to Pol Pot’s Brother Number Two pleading not guilty of mass atrocities.

I am not a Rohingya
But I felt the pain when they shared their life stories with me of how ruthlessly and inhumanly Burmese/Myanmar officials and local racist Rakhine have treated them – or how children were burned alive.
I am not a genocide-fleeing refugee
but i am equally outraged by what how “Buddhist” society has sleep-walked into a slow burning genocide.

I am not a Chinese
but I loathed the Japanese fascist occupiers in Nanking who practiced their Kendo (Samurai-style swords) on the actual necks of Chinese victims
I didn’t live through the Japanese occupation as a Chinese
but I felt for those who did.

I am not a Tamil
but I felt the piercing pain when I heard a testimony of a Tamil surgeon
describing how he had to let the wounded and the pregnant die as Sri Lanka troops kept on shelling into hospitals in the paradoxically named “No Fire Zone”.
I am not a member of Tamil Eelam liberation movement
but I felt a genuine solidarity with their desire to live life as free and dignified people, not subject to ultra-racist “Buddhist” genocidal policies of Colombo.

I am not a Karen or Shan of Burma
but I felt the pain when I witnessed how two generations of Karen, Shan (and other minorities) in the war zones of Eastern Burma have been subject to the internally colonial wars of greed, aggression and delusions waged by the neo-Fascist Tatmadaw (or feudal military)
I didn’t suffer civil war in my country of birth
but I felt the fear and terror of those vicariously through victims’ narratives.

I am not a Rwandan Tutsi
but I felt the pain when I heard stories of the survivors of their genocide.

But …

Do I have to be a Jew, a Khmer, a Rohingya, a Chinese, a Tamil, a Karen or a Rwandan
in order to empathize with those who have suffered immensely?

Do I have to be a Palestinian, an Arab, or a Muslim to feel the pain and rage of being robbed of one’s non-Biblical land by those deluded enough to see themselves as “chosen people”?

Do I have to be a Gazan to feel the pain of being locked up in a vast concentration camp by those whose ancestors themselves were exterminated in similar camps thousands of miles away?


Dr. Maung Zarni, Associate Fellow, the University of Malaya, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment,founder and director of the Free Burma Coalition (1995-2004), and a visiting fellow (2011-13) at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, Department of International Development, London School of Economics. His forthcoming book on Burma will be published by Yale University Press. He was educated in the US where he lived and worked for 17 years. Visit his website www.maungzarni.com.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Jul 2014.

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