Of Sowings and Reapings

Medical teams pull people from the rubble in Gaza in the ongoing bombardment by the Israeli government. Screenshot from a video from Democracy Now.



October 2023.

Almost 15 years ago, our word warned of the nightmare.  It was in a semillero (seedbed) conversation, and it was through the voice of the late SupMarcos that we spoke.  It goes:

Of sowings and reapings

(January 2009)

 Perhaps what I am about to say is not relevant to what is the central theme of this table, or perhaps it is.

Two days ago, on the very same day in which our word referred to violence, the ineffable Condoleezza Rice, a US government official, declared that what was happening in Gaza was the fault of the Palestinians, because of their violent nature.

The subterranean rivers that run through the world may change geography, but they sing the same song.

 And the one we hear now is one of war and grief.

Not far from here, in a place called Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, next door, a heavily armed and trained army, that of the government of Israel, continues its advance of death and destruction.

The steps it has followed are, up to now, those of a classic military war of conquest: first an intense and massive bombardment to destroy “neuralgic” military points (as the military manuals call them) and to “soften up” the fortifications of resistance; then the strict control over information: everything that is heard and seen “in the outside world”, that is, outside the theater of operations, must be selected with military criteria; now intense artillery fire on enemy infantry to protect the advance of troops to new positions; then it will be the surrounding and siege to weaken the enemy garrison; then the assault that conquers the position by annihilating the enemy, then the “cleansing” of the probable “nests of resistance.”

The military manual of modern warfare, with some variations and additions, is being followed step by step by the invading military forces.

We do not know much about this and, for sure, there are specialists on the so-called “Middle East conflict,” but from this corner we have something to say:

 According to the photos of the news agencies, the “neuralgic” points destroyed by the aviation of the Israeli government are houses, huts, civilian buildings.

We have not seen any bunkers, military barracks or airfields, or gun batteries, among what was destroyed. So we, pardon our ignorance, think that either the gunners of the airplanes have bad aim or there are no such “neuralgic” military points in Gaza.

We do not have the honor of knowing Palestine, but we assume that those houses, huts and buildings were inhabited by people, men, women, children and the elderly, and not by soldiers.

Nor have we seen resistance fortifications, only rubble.

We have seen, yes, the so far futile effort to cordon off information and the various governments of the world vacillating between ducking or applauding the invasion, and a UN, long since useless, putting out lukewarm press releases.

But wait.  It has now occurred to us that perhaps for the Israeli government these men, women, children and old people are enemy soldiers and, as such, the huts, houses and buildings they live in are barracks to be destroyed.

And the enemy garrison that they want to weaken with the encirclement and siege being laid around Gaza is none other than the Palestinian population living there. And that the assault will seek to annihilate that population. And that any man, woman, child or elderly person who manages to escape, hiding, from the predictably bloody assault, will then be “hunted” so that the cleansing can be completed and the military chief in command of the operation can report to his superiors “we have completed the mission.”

Forgive us again for our ignorance, perhaps what we are saying is, in fact, beside the point, or something, depending. And that instead of repudiating and condemning the crime in progress, as indigenous people and as warriors that we are, we should be discussing and taking a position in the discussion on either “Zionism” or “anti-Semitism,” or that it was the Hamas bombs to start with.

Perhaps our thinking is very simple, and we lack the nuances and necessary annotations in our analysis, but, for us, we Zapatistas, in Gaza there is a professional army assassinating a defenseless population.

Who from below and to the left can remain silent?


Does it do any good to say anything? Do our cries stop any bombs? Does our word save the life of a Palestinian child?

We think that it is useful, maybe we will not stop a bomb nor will our word become an armored shield that prevents that 5.56 mm or 9 mm caliber bullet, with the letters “IMI” (“Israeli Military Industry”) engraved on the base of the cartridge, from reaching the chest of a girl or a boy, but maybe our word will manage to join with others in Mexico and the world and maybe first it will become a murmur, then a loud voice, and then a cry that will be heard in Gaza.

We don’t know about you, but we Zapatistas of the EZLN know how important it is, in the midst of destruction and death, to hear a few words of encouragement.

I don’t know how to explain it, but it turns out that yes, words from afar may not be enough to stop a bomb, but they are as if a crack were opened in the black room of death and a little light slipped through.

Otherwise, what will happen will happen. The Israeli government will declare that it has dealt a severe blow to terrorism, it will hide the magnitude of the massacre from its people, the big arms producers will have obtained an economic respite to face the crisis and “world public opinion,” that malleable entity, always in tune with the situation, will turn to look the other way.

But not only that. It is also going to happen that the Palestinian people are going to resist and survive and continue to fight, and continue to have sympathy from below for their cause.

And, perhaps, a boy or a girl from Gaza will survive as well. Maybe they will grow up and, with them, courage, indignation, rage. Perhaps they will become soldiers or militiamen of one of the groups fighting in Palestine. Maybe they will fight Israel. Perhaps they will do so by firing a rifle. Maybe they will immolate themselves with a belt of dynamite sticks around their waist.

And then, up there, they will write about the violent nature of the Palestinians and make statements condemning that violence and it will be discussed again about Zionism or anti-Semitism.

And then no one will ask who has sown what is being reaped.

From the men, women, children and elders of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, January 4, 2009.


Those who were minors then, almost 15 years ago, and survived, well…

There are those who were responsible for sowing what is being harvested today, and there are those who, with impunity, repeat the sowing.

Those who just a few months ago justified and defended Putin’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing its “right to defend itself from a potential threat,” must now be juggling (or betting on forgetfulness) to invalidate that argument in the face of Israel.  And vice versa.

Today, in Palestine and Israel -and all over the world- there are children and young people learning what terrorism teaches: that there are no limits, no rules, no laws, no shame.

Nor are there responsibilities.


Neither Hamas nor Netanyahu.  The people of Israel will survive.  The people of Palestine will survive.  They just need to give themselves a chance and stick to it.

In the meantime, each war will continue to be just a prelude to the next one, more ferocious, more destructive, more inhumane.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Mexico, October 2023.

Original text published in Enlace Zapatista on October 16th, 2023. https://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2023/10/16/de-siembras-y-cosechas/
English translation in collaboration with Sexta Grietas del Norte.

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