A poem for Gaza– Gazalament 

A poem on the mass killings in Gaza and the West Bank, by Isareli forces for the past month after the Hamas attack of October 7 from the daughter of Admiral and Lalitha Ramdas, former Chief of the Indian Navy from November 30, 1990
A mother and child in Gaza, before the attack. Photo: Catholic Church England/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

I am.

But if you insist,

Then I will tell you.

I am.

Indian. Hindu.

My husband

Pakistani. Muslim.

If you insist

I’ll tell you.

I am. He is.

in constant fear of a war that ends in nuclear holocaust.

Islamophobia grows under Modi.

I am the woman with Jewish in-laws – Diamonds, Colters, Hirskowitzes.

Our thanksgiving table has Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Atheists

Communists too.

As a child,

My passport

and across the border,

My husband’s,


not valid for the Republic of South Africa and Israel.

Reason: Apartheid.

In the 50s and 60s

Our homes supported the struggles of the PLO and ANC.

Yasir Arafat, Nelson Mandela, Castro, Nasser, Attaturk, and Tito.

Our heros anti-imperialist.

Foreign policy non-aligned.

Our Jewish community Indian.

Sasoon docks, Juddah Gubbey, Jael Silliman,

Admiral Sampson

my grandfather’s best friend.

In the 70s most left for Israel.

Synagogues closed.

A few elders remain – not enough for a service.

I am.

But if you insist,

I will tell you.

I am.

Feminist. Activist.

At the Global Fund for Women

through the turn of a century

we hear from women


speaking their truth

calling for freedom.

Our modest grants holding




Israeli Jewish women

secular, reform, orthodox

fighting patriarchy and patriarchs


the right

to pray at the Wall,

freedom to marry of their own choice

practice religion or not

use birth control

halt trafficking in women – many from Ukraine

cease glorifying weapons to children

resist battering by

militarized, traumatized

policemen of

occupied territories.

Arab women


rights as full Israeli citizens

freedom from abusive homes

the violence of a dominant culture

that diminishes their heritage

their right to be where they are

who they are.

Colonized women

in Gaza and West Bank

challenging, cajoling, counseling

angry, despairing

jobless men.

demanding education,

refusing silence around

queerness and atheism.

mobilizing against occupation,

An end to checkpoints

where they wait for hours

stop, plead, give birth,

prove they belong

To the land of their ancestors.

Some women dare to dream

of peace

across faiths

of a shared capital

Arab, Jew, Christian

in the holiest

of holy.

They write a white paper

Jerusalem Link.

No official dares respond

their radical vision



I am.

But if you insist,

I will tell you.

Traveller. Witness.

to resistance, resilience

in feminist movements.


2 weeks

Jerusalem/Tel Aviv/Ramallah/Hebron

3 days in Gaza

Women using music, art, and sports

to give children hope in a future.


Definite. Determined. Defiant.


Why we voted for Hamas, you ask?

You think we like being told how to dress?

Forced to cover?

You think we accept hateful prejudice?

We are pragmatic.

Disgust at the corruption of Fatah

Grateful for the support of medical care, ambulances, widows’ pension,

the means to bury a child

his football jersey covered in blood.

I am.

But if you insist,

I will tell you.

I am.

Accomplice. Complicit.

paying US taxes that support

death drones, cluster bombs and white phosphorous.


In wealthy cities,

New York, San Francisco, Paris, London, Berlin

the homeless

live in tents

cardboard beds

sprawled on the steps

Of a church, the subway,

doors close.

We turn away

take another route.

Sometimes we offer a dollar or two.

Palestinians are the world’s homeless

refugees in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq,

places we know.

We turn away,

take another route

away from the shadows

that make us feel a certain kind of way.

Sometimes we offer aid,

band aid?

Evicted, displaced, denied, hounded

unhoused, untethered,


Denied the right to return



is rubble remains

by bulldozers in Jerusalem

And in Gaza

by bombs.

Yet, Palestinians,

refuse to disappear.



no matter

where they live


Someone else controls the water, electricity, land,

cuts down olive trees.

signs of peace.

Still they ARE.

Palestinian embroidery

metaphor for a land and people ripped asunder

crosses marking where a child was buried

a limb severed

a lover lost.

After each disaster

women teach their children

water the olive trees

love this land

remember you are of it

your right to it

never ever forget.

when the fire stops raining from the sky

Someone has to clean up.

as always,

the women come


I am. Here.

But us?

All of us?

Where are we?

(The author, Kavita N. Ramdas is an advocate for gender equity and justice. She is a visiting professor at the Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. She was recently named Activist in Residence at the Global Fund for Women)



Related Articles