Roger Langen

grandmother came out waving
a white flag, three little girls
after, like droplets from a leaf
after rain, first two and then one
the soldier killed Souad, 7, first
ringlets under his helmet
orthodox, the news outlets surmised
a settler perhaps, Amal, 2
died minutes after, grandmother survived
but lost her arm

but the BBC liked 4-year-old Samar best
her image bright and pretty bounced
to Toronto and Sydney and back,
from a Belgian hospital
“they killed my little sister,” she said
her smile winning, unmarked
by the wreckage of her spine
a smile, the only defense
a child has

will the unknown soldier suffer, too
will the memory of his two comrades
hurt him, snacking on the tank top
(as reported) as he fired
and will he marry when he returns
will he be a father, too
and if his daughter smiles
will he know
that she is asking him to love her

and oh! did the BBC remember to ask
who it was
picked up the white flag


The sordid case of Khaled Abed Rabbo is among the numerous instances of clearly unarmed civilians –who by all accounts of survivors were not in an area of ‘crossfire’ or ‘clashes’ –being shot point-blank by invading Israeli soldiers. In this case 3 out of 4 of the civilians were children: Amal, a 2 year old girl and Souad [photo], a 7 year old girl, both shot dead; and Samar, a 4 year old girl, now paralyzed from her multiple shots. Abed Rabbo’s mother, also named Souad, was targeted, also at close range. All were denied medical aid. More here. General information: The Gaza Chronicles: Part 1 -"The Forgotten Story"

Roger Langen was born in a potato-growing and timber town, Perth-Andover, in New Brunswick, Canada. His family members were Irish immigrants dating back to 1813. His father was the first university-educated member of his family, but was ruined by World War II. He was the sole survivor of an ambush event in Italy in 1944. This affected him but so did so much else. A lawyer, he lived on Toronto streets for a while until he collapsed, unable to identify himself for six months. He spent 24 years afterward in a hospital with a condition called Korsakoff's Psychosis. He died in 1998. Roger Langen has been a teacher and more recently a union representative for teachers, an Executive Officer with the Toronto Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, former Vice-Chair of the Provincial OSSTF Human Rights Committee. He also is with International Committee in Solidarity with Colombian Political Prisoners. He writes for Education Forum and the CCPA Monitor.


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