I am a little addicted to Reuters’ Oddly Enough. Weird, human error errata, it is usually a source of slightly educational funny stories. Then, sometimes, it is heartbreaking. This short story about the Gaza Zoo’s attempt to delight its children patrons by painting their donkeys like zebras–“using masking tape and women’s hair dye, applied with a paint-brush”–is, to me, a symbol of how far people in conflict will go to attain normality.
Why did they want zebras?
“The children don’t know [the donkeys aren’t zebras] so they call them zebras and they are happy to see something new.”
Why not get real zebras? ”
A genuine zebra would have been too expensive to bring into Israel-blockaded Gaza via smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt, said owner Mohammed Bargouthi. “It would have cost me $40,000 to get a real one.”
Like anything that happens in Gaza, there are two wildly divergent and acerbic narratives to tell about the zoo in Gaza. One is of a community zoo which suffered heavy animal casualties during Israel’s attacks on Gaza (which, of course on the opposite perspective, a in response to Hammas’s attacks into Israel).
It is also the community zoo where Hammas laid booby traps (hat tip to Mere Rhetoric for the link).
Even knowing that the zoo has been the location of offensive fighting on both sides, my heart still aches for the children of Gaza who are so excited to see painted zebras. It’s a sad, troubling conflict, but an especially horrifying one for the children trapped in the middle.
Paris was then occupied by Nazi soldiers, and it was one of the coldest winters in memory. To people passing the chic bistro, the scene was unthinkable: the city’s social elite sitting down to luxurious suppers when so many were cold and starving.
But a closer look revealed the truth. The waiters brought menus, patrons asked what was especially good that night. Wine was ordered by the bottle; Champagne was shouted for by businessmen in black ties. Ladies complimented one another on their clothes.
But for the duration of the night, all that emerged from the kitchen was water. No food, no wine, no Champagne. Just bottle after bottle of water, on trays, in Champagne buckets, in bowls, and in glasses. It was a night like any other, yet unlike any other.–Modern Love, the New York Times, 2009/06/28