Red shirt… blue jeans… little sneakers Not on a boat of asylum seekers. Not holding the hand of a hijab wearing mother. Not in the embrace of a brown skinned father. Not in the company of anyone that the world can demonize. Face down in the sand, with his eyes eternally shut he pries open our eyes. He looks familiar, like a son, a grandson, a nephew, a toddler in the playground. He looks like that kid at the grocery store who always manages to stare us down.
Red shirt… blue jeans… little sneakers. No papers, no visa, no ID. A victim of our policy. The wars we started over there have come to haunt us here. The voices we muted for so long have suddenly become loud and clear. A picture is worth a thousand words, but how many words do we need to erase our fear of the other? How many words does it take to affirm humanity?
The resort was the last place they expected to be confronted with this. The tourists were shocked. All they wanted was to watch the sun rise and make love on the beach. ‘He was not supposed to be here washed up on our shore’ . Red shirt…blue jeans…little sneakers…thoughtless refugee. Did he really have to drown in our sea?
Can we just take one minute to learn from history? Palestinians were the first wave of dispossessed in the Arab world, now they are a drop in the ocean of exile and grief. The lesson learned is this: When injustice is left to fester, it expands beyond the horizon. Everyone becomes a refugee. Red shirt…blue jeans… little sneakers…they were riding the waves along the shores of Haifa, desperate they climbed into wooden boats to escape from the Irgun. Face down in the sand. Nakba is infectious. Untreated and unopposed, Nakba grows past the checkpoints and the siege of Gaza, it spreads to Syria… Iraq …Afghanistan…and Yemen… Its poison taints the waters of the Mediterranean.
Red shirt … blue jeans…little sneakers. He is beautiful and intact. Face down in the sand, the sharks did not devour him. They left him for the bigger beasts. The arms dealers…warlords and oil sheiks. The neo cons in the west and the tyrants of the east. He is an
offering for their feast.
offering for their feast.
About the author: Samah is a Palestinian-Australian-Canadian writer, commentator, author, playwright and Social Justice advocate. She has co-authored with her father, Abdel-Karim Sabawi, a play “Cries from the Land” and produced it as a play (2003).In 2008 she produced Three Wishes(, based on her adaptation of Deborah Ellis's book "Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israelis Speak Out". Both were successfully staged in Canada. Her two-city premier of her most recent play Tales of a City by the Sea, completed a sold-out season in Melbourne in 2014 and also was staged in Palestine. Sabawi's essays and op-eds have appeared in various media outlets and her poetry has been featured in various magazines and books, most recently in an anthology published by West End Press titled With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century.
Samah Sabawi is former Executive Director and Media Spokesperson for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations and former Public Advocate for the Melbourne based advocacy group Australians for Palestine,