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“I Miss Bread”, she wept.

Propaganda is that which can at times manipulate or guide us into a line of thinking that may favour a certain cause. It can be bias and false. Or it is the raw facts and honesty of human experience. If one seeks to dehumanise then it is important that all humanity is stripped away and absent from the depiction of the pariah, the enemy or outsider. Suddenly that group is not like the rest of us and are minimised in their agency and capacity to feel and experience. They are forfeit. Even their children.

Footage of a little girl has emerged, she is maybe five years of age, one of the many young victims trapped in occupied Palestine. Her pink jumper stained and her face tired, she says to the camera as it points in her face, “I miss bread.”

The journalist most likely fishing for a response asks her, “Does your father bring you bread?”

“He is in Heaven.”

After she replies, she falls into tears. The journalist getting their response, social media another clip for accounts to gain engagement and in that moment we witness like limp voyeurs another little victim, no one to wipe her tears away. Her stomach empty, starved as the blockade continues and her life ever in danger as the missiles and bombs rip the world around her to pieces.

What becomes of her we will never know, she is for a moment within a specific niche on the internet, viral. To be paraded as an example of Israeli inhumanity. And for the killers of her father an example of an inhuman that does not deserve bread or life. Those on the outside she may as well be an actress, an AI creation or a figment for our entertainment. To invoke either indifference or an emotional response that last for as long as we allow ourselves to care.

No ceasefire is in sight and the bread that she misses, may be baked eventually for a few. As the flour comes in with infrequency, whenever it breaks through the Israeli lines or is allowed. Clean water, let alone salt are just as hard to come by, and the likelihood that she would have butter and jam on her bread is a privilege that only those of us far away on the other side of the screen may gorge ourselves with. The death, that is frequent.

For her, she will be as remembered or forgotten as the little girl in the red dress who washed ashore after drowning when the boat she and other refugees were on capsized in the Mediterranean sea. Her image of death a captivating reminder that refugees are not an invading horde, rather human beings with families and children. Though like her little corpse, she has been long buried, lost among the digital history of engagement farming.

Or perhaps like another little Palestinian girl whose body we saw falling to pieces as it was lifted down from the ruins after Israeli weapons tore her home to bits. When she was identified and the photo of her alive, in the before, smiling, breathing we had a human being and not the morbid ember of a child that existed to shock and disgust. Her broken body likely to be buried in the ground alongside the thousands of other children who have been killed.

Propaganda it all is. To be shown the victims. To experience the humanity that warfare ruins. It is in witnessing the miserable outcomes of what others consider to be a necessity, that we come to understand warfare. It is not glory, whatever pragmatism is boasted comes at the expense of children condemned to death or to live in fear and pain. If such a child is your enemy, then perhaps you are the enemy to humanity itself.

So while she may be forgotten in time by all of us who see her on social media, on the other side she will live on, or die. We will most likely never know. That seems to be how the world is divided, those of us who scroll on, indifferent, with governments that we all worship contributing to the death of children like her. For her policy, the complexity of alliances and geopolitical posturing, arms deals and diplomatic enabling only means that her stomach grumbles into painful starvation and that her daddy will never come home.

But most of you, love government and war more than you care about its victims.

February, 2024

Published inAll Articles and EssaysPhilosophy, Society and LibertyWar, History and Foreign Policy