Thursday, January 5, 2017

Home Coming

Whenever there is a plan for home-coming, it is always thought of as a happy occasion.  Whether one is coming home for the Christmas holidays, or the summer break, or whether one is joining a class reunion, there is always a feeling of excitement and joy that one looks forward to.

It is only when one is coming home to Palestine, that home-coming  becomes a nightmare.  All the excitement and joy turn into hours of harassment and interrogation at the borders by an occupying force that makes a Palestinian or anybody of Palestinian origin  feel as an intruder,  or a suspect.  By the time one reaches home all the excitement is gone and the tension of the interrogation is released with anger and very often with tears of frustration.  Whether one is arriving at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (known originally as the Lydda  airport,) or whether one is crossing the bridge via Jordan, because West Bankers are not allowed to travel through the airport, it  is all the same.  Of course, not withstanding the fact,  that some are completely denied entry, and some are harassed and stripped on the way out. 


Now that the Christmas holidays are over,  all those young people who came to visit their  parents and grandparents have  gone back to their universities or their work.  But despite what they went through on their most  recent visit, they are determined to come back again and again as no harassment will stop them from coming home, with the hope that one day soon their home-coming will be to a liberated Palestine. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Greetings

Dear Family & Friends:

In his weekly  reflections which  he shares with us, Patriarch
Emeritus Michel Sabbah is quoting Prophet Isiah:  "Strengthen all
weary hands; steady all trembling knees; and say to the faint-hearted:
Be strong, do not be afraid' (Is 35: 3-4).

Very comforting words indeed, but much easier said than done when we
have been subjugated to a brutal occupation over and above a
dispossession that has lingered for almost seventy years.  As strong
as they try to be, the Palestinians are afraid and children are
terrified as they never know whether they will find their home when
they come back from school, or just a pile of rubble,  or when a dear
father, brother or sister  will be picked up by the army in the middle
of the night.

Yet once again Patriarch Sabbah  draws our attention to what Prophet
Isaiah said  "He gives justice to the oppressed; he gives food to the
hungry; he sets prisoners free" (Ps 146: 6-7).

I keep wondering how we keep holding onto hope when there is no
justice,  when families are separated and not allowed  family
reunification, when  our young people are languishing in Israeli jails
and when we see so many hungry people, especially children.  Those
children  who constitute  the largest sector of the wave of refugees
from all over our region trying to seek  a safe haven after being
exposed to so much  brutality due to foreign wars imposed on their
countries.  Yes our hands are weary, and our knees are trembling, and
we do not know what the future holds for us, and that is why it breaks
our heart to see some of our young people leaving  the country to seek
a better future for their children. However most of us  are determined
to stay put, although very often we feel like crying out “Until when O
Lord, until when?”

From our land,  the Holy Land where our Lord Jesus Christ was born,
I  send you warm greetings and best wishes for a Joyful Christmas and
a Peaceful New Year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On The American Elections

Now that it is almost over, I could not resist a few lines on this election campaign
The US has become a laughing stock as the parties  went low down that lane
Commentators have written about  Evil and lesser Evil as the only choice
A tragedy when a super power cannot come out with a good or better voice

For Trump to represent the  Republicans  seemed at the beginning like a joke
But the joke ended up on the Democrats seeing that Trump was no bloke
The thrust of Obama and Michelle was needed to salvage the party’s  prestige
Having Hillary lose against Trump would be  a disaster they could never appease

In a few hours we will really know and may the Lord have mercy on this globe
Whether it is the evil or lesser evil who will run the show, we will all have to cope
For us Palestinians it does not matter any more another  disappointment
So we’ll simply watch as you lament your fate or rejoice with enjoyment

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Irony of the Veto



While listening to the news about Syria and all the devastation, I
thought it was ironic that France and its allies would condemn Russia
for using its veto right in the resolution submitted by France.

Maybe it is high time that the structure of the United Nations and
the power given to the five permanent members in the Security Council
should be reconsidered so that there is no double-standard in
sanctioning countries that violate International Law.

If anybody knows that feeling of frustration because of the veto
power it is us Palestinians.  We  have  been taking our case to the
United Nations ever since 1948 when we were dispossessed of our
country and our right to return.  Although we have never given up on
the  UN to redress the grave injustice inflicted upon us, we also
realize how impotent that body has been in implementing its
resolutions.

Over and above being  dispossessed of our  land, freedom, and right to
self –determination, we  have had to bear with  a military occupation
for almost fifty years.  And to add insult to injury,  every time a UN
resolution is presented  to sanction Israel for its violations
against a whole population living under a military occupation, the
American veto is there to salvage Israel.

So now,  Russia has given the Western countries a taste of their own
medicine.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Reflecting on the kidnapping of the human rights activists on the Zaytouna-Oliva.

Pro–Palestine female activists on board the Zaytouna–Oliva, pictured in September.

From past experience with other Freedom Flotillas sailing to Gaza, I am not certain whether those women  human rights activists were sure that they will be able to reach Gaza.  Yet their determination to challenge the blockade gave hope to the people of Gaza  that they are not being  abandoned and forgotten.  But when Israel can get away with blocking the arrival of the Zaytouna-Oliva on its peaceful mission and kidnapping the thirteen activists including some distinguished women without any compunction, then there is something very wrong with  the application of international law – a  law that has been hijacked by those in power whereby some get away with their violations, and others are sanctioned.  With every new election in the US and with every new appointment of a UN  Secretary General we continue to hope that Israel will stop being treated above the law - being  the spoiled  and  pampered child of the US. No wonder the world is in a mess, and my heart aches not only for the people of Gaza but for the people of Syria who are being sacrificed while their  country has become the battle field for the big powers.  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Too Little, Too Late, Mr. Obama.

Dear Mr. Obama:  

I still recall that day when I watched with awe and great respect your inauguration ceremony while I was visiting the USA.  As I wrote to you on January 22, 2009,  you were indeed an inspiration and a source of hope not only for the Americans  but for me as a  Palestinian,  especially when you focused on  the issue of justice.   An issue  which   was also  stressed  in the sermon of  Rev. Sharon Watkins during the National Service,  the day after your inauguration.   At last, I thought that the USA as a super power, and its good and genuine people deserve a leader of your intelligence and stature.  Now that the new elections are close, may the Lord have mercy on the Americans and the rest of the world irrespective of who gets elected. 

For the last eight years we have been waiting for some action that would really make you worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize which you received upon your election as president.  Not only did you not help in bringing justice and peace to our region, your unwavering support for  the state of Israel financially and through the American veto at the UN, made it possible and easier  for Israel  to continue  flouting  international law.  While your statements regarding settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land did not go beyond the rhetoric of condemnation, it was not surprising that Israel has been able  to get away with all the violations of human rights and international law, as well as ignoring  the stated policies of the US itself regarding settlements and confiscation of land.

With the signing of your last agreement with Israel for the amount of $38b for the next ten years, you are actually rewarding Israel and helping it use the arms bought according to that agreement to crush the Palestinians and further oppress them as they continue to struggle  for their basic rights and for liberation from a brutal military occupation.  I am sure  you could have used that enormous amount of money to meet the many domestic challenges that are facing the USA these days such as health care, education, homelessness and hunger.

It was interesting to hear your recent speech at the United Nations.  You  suggested that “we must go forward, and not backward” stressing that democracy,  human rights and international law that you forged remain the firmest foundation for human progress in this century.  You further stressed the fact that more people than ever are free to choose their own leaders.  I was wondering what democracy are you referring to?  The democracy imposed by the US through wars and the destruction of  whole countries,(like Iraq,  Libya and Syria)  or the democracy in which the results of democratic and transparent elections (as in the case of the Palestinian Territories) were not accepted by the US government?  Of course I realize that some of that took place before your first term.  But not much has changed since then, especially regarding the human rights as well as the national rights of the Palestinians.. The shuttle diplomacy of Mr. Kerry proved as futile as his recent mediation with the Russians in Syria. 

It was  refreshing to hear you say that you have had your share of mistakes.  However there is a lot to atone for, and I am just wondering if you will have time to atone for those mistakes.  We continue to hear  news about a possible legacy that you plan to leave in November through an initiative that will set new parameters for the two state solution.   Whether this is true or not, you have unfortunately   missed many opportunities during the last eight years, and  while you were still holding the reins.  Dare we hope, or will this last minute initiative be Too Little Too Late.

Samia Khoury
A Concerned Palestinian Grand-mother

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reflecting on Terrorism

On the 27th of July,  I had to take my car to be serviced at the Chevrolet garage in Talpiot on West Jerusalem.  On my way back, my cousin drove me  through areas that were so familiar to me in West Jerusalem when we were living there before 1948.  It was a very strange feeling, as the same buildings were  still there, but not the same people.  Driving in front of  the  King David Hotel and  the YMCA across the street, evoked the memory of  July 22, 1946, almost  seventy years ago to date, when the wing of King David Hotel that housed  the Secretariat of  the British Mandate Government was bombed, killing  91 people and injuring more than 50, including British, Arabs, and Jews.    It was officially announced that the bombing was a terrorist attack carried out by the Irgun, a militant Zionist underground organization which was headed by Menachem  Begin. The bombing of the Semiramis Hotel in January 1948 killing all the members of the Palestinian owners of the Hotel was another heinous act of terrorism by another Jewish underground organization, the Haganah.  The intention of the Jewish underground at the time, was to instill fear in the British Mandate and the Arab Palestinians so that they would leave Palestine.  The Deir Yaseen massacre on April 9, 1948 led exactly to that, when the Jewish underground drove  around Jerusalem in their tanks with some of the survivors of that massacre and urging all Palestinians to leave lest they face the same fate like those who were massacred in Deir Yasseen. 

These incidents were part of our first experiences with terrorism and terrorist acts, which have become a daily event in this crazy world of  ours.  However it is often forgotten who the first  perpetrators of terrorism in our region were.  During that period  Menachem Begin, was wanted by the British mandate government,  yet he was officially received by the British Royal Court during his term as  Prime Minister of Israel between 1977-1983. 

However,  it is ironic that the source of our worry   these days might not  be ISIS or Al-Qaida that  should be controlled by the powers who created them, if they wish to do so.  It is those   phenomena beyond human control, like natural disasters and viruses such as  the Zika virus that might become the nightmare.  No weapons, bombs,  drones or even knives can prevent  a bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.