A reporter accused her of teaching hate to children. Her reply is angry. And haunting. And perfect.

This woman talks about one of the most controversial topics in the world in the only way she knows how: as a witness, a storyteller, an activist, and a human. I dare you not hear her angry, beautiful refrain the next time you turn on the TV and see media coverage of the turmoil she describes.

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Rafeef Ziadah I'll start with this poem. I wrote this poem when the bombs were dropping on Gaza. I was a media spokesperson for the coalition, uh, during a lot of the organizing, and we had stayed up til about six o'clock in the morning perfecting every sound bite and by the end, if you're Palestinian, you know, most Palestinians get tired and start pronouncing our Ps as Bs, so we become Balestinians by the end of the day.

So, I was practicing my p's all night, and the next morning, um, one of the journalists asked me don't you think it would all be fine if you just stopped teaching your children to hate? Um, I did not insult the person, I was very polite. Um, but I wrote this poem as a response to these types of questions we Palestinians always get.

Today, my body was a TVed massacre. Today, my body was a TVed massacre that had to fit into sound bites and word limits. Today, my body was a TVed massacre that had to fit into sound bites and word limits, filled enough with statistics to counter measured response, and I perfected my English, and I learned my U.N. Resolutions, but still, he asked me Ms. Ziadah, don't you think everything would be resolved if you would just stop teaching so much hatred to your children? Pause.

I look inside of me for strength to be patient, but patience is not at the tip of my tongue as the bombs drop over Gaza. Patience has just escaped me. Pause. Smile.

We teach life, sir. Rafeef, remember to smile. Pause.

We teach life, sir. We Palestinians teach life after they have occupied the last sky. We teach life after they have built their settlements and apartheid walls, after the last skies. We teach life, sir.

But today, my body was a TVed massacre made to fit into sound bites and word limits, and just give us a story, a human story. You see, this is not political, we just want to tell people about you and your people, so give us a human story. Don't mention that word apartheid and occupation. This is not political, you have to help me as a journalist to help you tell your story, which is not a political story.

Today, my body was a TVed massacre. How about you give us a story of a women in Gaza who needs medication? How about you? Do you have enough bone broken limbs to cover the sun? Hand me over your dead and give me the list of their names and 1200 word limits.

Today, my body was a TVed massacre made to fit into sound bites and word limits, and move those that are desensitized to terrorist blood.

But they felt sorry, they felt sorry for the cattle over Gaza. So, I give them UN Resolutions and statistics and we condemn and we deplore and we reject these are not two equal sides, occupier and occupied, and 100 dead 200 dead, and 1000 dead, and between that war crime and massacre, I vent out words and smile not exotic.

Smile, not terrorist, and I recount, I recount a hundred dead, 200 dead, 1000 dead. Is anyone out there? Will anyone listen? I wish I could wail over their bodies. I wish I could just run bare foot in every refugee camp and hold every child, cover their ears so they wouldn't have to hear the sound of bombing for the rest of their life the way I do.

Today, my body was a TVed massacre, and let me just tell you there is nothing your UN Resolutions have ever done about this, and no sound bite, no sound bite I come up with, no matter how good my English gets, no sound bite, no sound bite, no sound bite, no sound bite will bring them back to life.

No sound bite will fix this. We teach life, sir. We teach life, sir. We Palestinians wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, sir.

Thank you.


There may be small errors in this transcript.

"We Teach Life, Sir" is a poem by Canadian-Palestinian spoken-word artist and activist Rafeef Ziadah. To see and hear more of her work, you can Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jul 14, 2014

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