Sunday, July 18, 2004

The New York Times Magazine > The Maimed

The New York Times Magazine > The Maimed:
"One of the more shaming paradoxes of war and terrorism is that it seems easier to honor the dead than to acknowledge the wounded. Newspapers print the names of the dead, names that eventually make their way onto memorials -- cold comfort though it may be to those that loved the dead and ache for them. But the wounded -- at least the civilian wounded, who are shown here -- are listed by number, and there is not even any public tally of who has suffered some passing injury and who has lost a kidney, who has been blinded, who has lost a limb.

As of June 23, according to the United Nations, 3,437 Palestinians have been killed in the uprising that began in late September 2000, while 33,776 have been wounded. The Israeli Magen David Adom emergency service reports that as of July 1 it has taken care of 864 dead, most of them killed by terrorists. (The figure does not include the many soldiers either evacuated for burial or treated by the Israeli Defense Forces.) Of the 6,399 Israeli wounded, Magen David Adom estimates that 556 have been severely injured. "

Anyone who has spent time in Israel and Palestine knows all too well how commonplace the maimed have become in the streets of Jerusalem, Haifa, Ramallah or Nablus. Yet even there, the dead take pride of place. The stock image of the aftermath of a terrorist incident is of members of ZAKA, an Orthodox Jewish group combing the site for body parts. On the Palestinian side, the image endlessly repeated on television and wall posters is of the shaheed, the martyr -- usually a suicide bomber in a heroic pose, armed to the teeth in front of a picture of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Those images may tell us a great deal about faith or about politics, but they tell us nothing about what it is to be maimed. Perhaps that is to be expected: it is easy to romanticize death and almost impossible to make an ideological fable out of having one's legs blown off or one's face burned.
con·cept: The New York Times Magazine > The Maimed