Saturday, July 23, 2022

Do we really need a miracle?

 In one of the Palestinian outlets, the following item appeared after the visit of President Biden with the Palestinian President Abbas in  Bethlehem.   “President  Biden responded to the demands of President Abbas that he would need Jesus Christ to fulfill his demands.”  This means that the demands need a miracle.  Amazing when all it needed to create the state of Israel in 1948 and dispossessing the Palestinians was a vote at the UN supported basically by the US.  The US knows very clearly that without its moral and financial support Israel could not have been created nor continued to exist or get away with all the violations that deprived the Palestinians of their rights.  So Mr. Biden we do not need one of Christ’s miracles.  We need one of the US moral stands without making a mockery of the UN institution with the Veto right whenever Israel is at fault.  We have seen the US for its own vested interests sanctioning countries here and there for lesser reasons than what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians.  Yet the US administration continues to shield Israel no matter what it does.  The mere fact that it was willing to sacrifice its own marines in the case of the USS Liberty during the June 1967 war rather than embarrass Israel,  as well as the handling of the killing of the Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,  proves that the miracle is in the hands of the US which is very well informed about the situation on the ground.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Illogic of the Logic


Every time I think the USA has broken its own record in the illogical statements of shielding Israel’s violations of international law and human rights accords, it surprises us again with another absurd statement. 

 

Two days ago, our local papers announced that the USA has removed the name of the Jewish movement “Khana Hai” from the list of terrorist organizations. For those of you who might have forgotten, Khana Hai was behind the massacre of Palestinian Muslim worshippers at the Ibrahimi mosque  in Hebron on February 25, 1994, as well as other terrorist acts against Palestinians.  Ironically however, the PLO, The Palestinian Liberation Organization, which signed a peace agreement with Israel under the umbrella of the USA, on the White House Lawn on September 13, 1993,   is on the USA list of terrorist organizations.  Indeed, the irony of ironies.     

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Analogy

I could not help but make an analogy between the fully armed Israeli police with the bulls of Spain.  The moment the Palestinian flags went up by the Jerusalem community gathered in front of the morgue to carry the  coffin of  Shireen Abu Akleh to church, the police stormed the hospital and started beating the people right and left.  The sight reminded me  of how the bulls charge the moment they see the red flag.

 

The brutality was beyond description.  I could not but wonder,  “how long Dear Lord, how long?”  How many more Palestinians need to be killed and imprisoned before the International community, and especially the USA, will rise  up to its responsibility beyond mere concern?  Even when they kill our people we are not allowed to mourn them with dignity.  Everybody watched how the coffin almost fell on  the ground as the police were beating the young men carrying it. I do not think any Palestinian martyr during all those long years of occupation had crowds of Christians and Muslims praying together  as they did for Shireen’s  soul   to rest in peace.  “Al-Fateha,” as well as the “Lord’s  prayer”  were recited  She represented all Palestine.

 

A specific verse  of Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ in the wind”  came back to me this evening as I was writing this:  “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?  The answer my friend is blowing in the wind”  I hope not after all that suffering and dispossession of seventy four years.  However, I hope and pray that  Shireen’s assassination will be the spark that will light the torch of our freedom and the end of this brutal occupation

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Easter Reflection

The sight  of the Ukrainian refugees  running away from their homes to seek  refuge in safe areas, was very sad and moving indeed.  Loud voices of condemnation were raised mostly by the Western and European countries, demanding sanctions on Russia. 

 

As sad as it is, for us Palestinians the sight evoked very sad memories of our own   eviction from our homes and our country which ceased to exist in 1948.  Not only because of the eviction, but because of the massacres and the razing of whole villages, which  took place at the time, some of which were only made public many years later on by the Israeli new historians.  It was a  historical event known as “the Nakba” (Catastrophe), which  turned out to be an ongoing Nakba to this day, as Israel continues to deprive the Palestinians  of their right of return according to UN GA  resolution 194  on December 11, 1948  and refuses  to withdraw from the rest of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 according to UN security Council resolution 242 on November 22, 1967.  Never has the international community come up with the word “sanctions” regarding Israel, despite its flouting of UN resolutions, and its violations of Palestinian human rights.    

 

The maximum that we hear from the European community is “concern” for what the Israeli forces are doing in the Palestinian Territories.  And the USA  comment on the settlements as not being conducive to peace.  A peace process that was initiated by the Oslo accords proved useless and redundant, only to confirm that Israel was never serious about peace.

 

Never has the  glaring double standards and hypocrisy of the international  community been so exposed as it has been during the invasion of Ukraine   Last year when sanctions were imposed on Iran and other countries I wrote one of my rhymes which is just as relevant these days. (Attached)

 

Will anybody dare suggest sanctions on Israel?  Of course not.  Israel has been getting away with all the violations of Palestinian human rights under the guise of security. Three renowned organizations monitoring the region, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch came to the conclusion in their reports  recently,  that Israel is an apartheid state.   Of course Israel refuted their reports and labeled them as anti-semitic.  Ironic indeed when one of them is an Israeli organization.

 

Does the Israeli government stop to think why those  young Palestinians go on a shooting spree in the Israeli towns?  Nobody loves to die or enjoy being shot to death.  But  when life becomes meaningless  under  a  brutal Israeli occupation, and a glimpse of hope is completely lost, not much option is left for them. It is high time Israel realizes that it will never feel secure while it continues to deprivc the Palestinians of their freedom and their basic rights.  Furthermore, it allows  the settlers to terrorize the Palestinians in their  towns, in their fields, vineyards and olive groves, as well as in  their holy places, all under the protection of the Israeli police force.  When will all this madness and brutality  come to an end? 

 

In this holy season for all the people of the Holy Land, Christians, Muslims and Jews,  dare we hope that justice, security and peace will eventually prevail, and the lives of so many people  be spared, and we can truly and joyfully celebrate Easter, Ramadan, and Pesach? 

 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

They Have Gone Astray

I spent most of the day yesterday watching news and updates on the various TV channels, until I got so tired, that I decided to take a break and sit outside on the porch with my book, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy.  How ironic that the following lines by Habib Jalib were quoted in the book: Bullets you sow instead of love

Our homeland you wash with blood

You imagine you’re showing the way

But I believe you’ve gone astray

 

Immediately those lines spoke to me and I thought Israel has always been astray, but has truly gone rogue this time, and so has the USA for not raising a voice on the ongoing brutality and dispossession of the Palestinians.  Palestinian lives matter just as little as black lives do when it comes to Settler-Colonial nation states like Israel and the USA. Israel and the USA always take pride in claiming that they share common values!!! Watching  the brutality of the Israeli police against our young people, one needs to be absolutely blind not to see the similarity in the methods that the American police used against George Floyd. 

 

How sad and anti-Semitic that the Jewish genocide by Europe continues to be the justification for allowing Israel to get away with all the criminal, illegal and repressive measures against the indigenous Palestinians on whose land Israel was created by the enabling of those same powers, mainly the UK and the USA and Germany, as if to distract from their complacency in the Holocaust.    

However, no power has had the guts to force Israel to atone for the dispossession and massacres of the Palestinians that took place during the establishment of the state of Israel. And Israel continues to claim that it is the only democracy in the Middle East region, irrespective of the fact that the Palestinians who remained in Israel when it was created and became  citizens of the state over-night, do not have the same rights as the Jewish population of the state.  This fact was sealed by the Nation State law approved by the Knesset in July 2018, and which enshrines Israel as a Jewish Supremacist state despite the fact that more than 20% of Israel’s population (19% Palestinian at least ) are not Jewish. 

The protests of this last week that erupted in Jerusalem against the forced expulsion and dispossession of Palestinians from a whole neighborhood of “Sheik Jarrah” in Jerusalem, and the storming of  Masjed Al-Aqsa, the third holiest place in Islam, during the holy month of Ramadan was but one of the egregious methods of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians who were recently barred from reaching the Holy Sepulcher during  the Orthodox Holy Saturday before Easter.

 

It was only when the rockets from Gaza hit Israel, that the impotent voice from the White House was heard, assuring Israel that it has the right to defend itself, as it was indiscriminately bombing the  Gaza Strip  without mercy killing whole families including children. An area that Israel has had under siege for the last fourteen years. 

 

Our Palestinian leadership thought they were going to have a better deal with the US after Trump lost the elections.  How naive indeed.  At least with Trump we knew the reality, and we knew where we stood without any hypocricy.  They were just as naive, or maybe  stupid, when they thought that Israel was genuinely interested in peace, when in reality all it was interested in is to be left in peace, and that is what the Olso agreement of 1993 helped them to achieve.   We are now reaping the fruits of a bad agreement, failed leadership and European sins.  The landscape has completely changed as  the land  according to that Oslo agreement was divided into areas, A, B, and C,  which eventually was filled up with colonial settlements.    Jerusalem was sealed off, stopped being accessible to the Palestinians living on the West Bank, even though East Jerusalem is technically in the West Bank, and the Jerusalem area is already filled up .  with 250,000 Jewish settlers.  The Apartheid Separation Wall, separated Palestinian territories from each other and military check points made life more and more difficult for Palestinians. 

 

On the grass roots level, we have watched many movements standing in solidarity with our people.  So hopefully they will eventually make a change and bring justice to our people, for without justice there can never  be peace.  But according to Benjamin Franklin “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

So I hope we can continue to count on your actions that would make a difference in the lives of our people


Friday, May 14, 2021

On Love

John 15:12

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.


How much better the world would be if only we could abide by this command.  I must admit that it is not that easy.  Are we capable of the love that God is referring to in this verse, especially that we are reminded of  another  verse in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.”  What are we willing to give or do to prove our love for the other: our own families, neighbors, our colleagues at school, and work,  let alone our enemies, who are out to get us in one way or another, and will that be possible?


 

However, when we reflect on the qualities of love as listed in 1Corinthians 13:4-7, we begin to realize that with love one can overcome so many problems and conflicts, whether on the level of the family, community,  the country, and even on a larger scale of regional and global conflicts.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered.  It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  It seems to me that in a nutshell,  love is actually blinding.  I thought those beautiful definitions of love should help us appreciate the meaning of love, and provide us with  the guidelines  to abide by that command:  Love each other as I have loved you.    An unconditional love.  That is why when we experience the power of love,  we realize that it is indeed a blessing to be able to love and be loved.

 

I would like to share with you a true story of a friend of mine,   who was a very wise and pious Christian woman.  And I say was, because she is not with us any more.   Like many Palestinians, she and her family had been evicted from their home in West Jerusalem in April 1948, and ended up living in Amman, Jordan.   Shortly after that trauma, her husband passed away and eventually her two sons married to two sisters were living with her.  She was such an organized woman, but she was having a hard time coping with all the disorder and chaos brought about by her daughters-in law.  Her only outlet was to share her dilemma with her daughter who was already married before 1948, and was living abroad.  You cannot imagine how the advice of her daughter “to love them as if they were her own daughters” worked like magic.  By her own words she told me:  By loving them my whole life changed and I was relaxed and stopped seeing any of the chaos that bothered me so much. Indeed love is blinding.  

 

As we ponder on the qualities of love,  it becomes  very clear that the opposite of those qualities are actually the main reasons for all the conflicts that we face in our daily life.  When you are impatient, you are not willing to listen to somebody else’s point of view.  When you are not kind, you are bound to hurt somebody.  When you envy somebody for what he or she has gained or accomplished you are already hurting somebody’s feeling instead of sharing the joy of the accomplishment.  When you are rude and easily angered you are bound to create enemies due to your attitude, and nobody would be interested in even listening to you.  Indeed love keeps no record of wrongs.  When you are trying to reconcile with a friend you simply shut the record with an apology,  and let bygones be bygones, otherwise there will never be any reconciliation.   I remember when we were kids and we would have a fight or hurt each other at home or school, during a game or discussion,  which was a  normal feature of growing up,  it was always compulsory  that our parents or teachers would make us say “sorry”  before going on with the day.  It was the magic word that clarified any misunderstanding or any hurt feelings.  Sometimes there was a  kiss along with the “sorry.”  And life went on.

 

Many years later,  I observed the principal of Rawdat El-Zuhur School in East Jerusalem, where I volunteered for many years as she dealt with conflicts.  She would never allow a child to go home before  a good handshake or a hug with one of his or her  peers if  they had a big row in school.  Also small misunderstandings between teachers would be solved before the end of the day.    A policy that proved very helpful in maintaining  an atmosphere of love, peace, and dignity for all.  Be they staff or students. I often wonder what if churches, organizations and even countries would  follow such a policy?  Would we not be spared so many conflicts?  So many people around the globe  have been hurt due to oppressive regimes in their own churches, institutions, and governments.  While many more  have suffered due to imposed conflicts upon them, like occupation, colonization  and deprivation of their rights, and nobody even recognized the root cause of their suffering, let alone offer an apology. 

 

How could the world unite under the slogan of love, to overcome all the suffering that we watch daily on our TV screens?  Or am I being too na├»ve to even start hoping that through love we shall overcome, while vested interests and material gains for the powerful continue to be priority.  However if all good people who believe in the power of love and truth, can  join forces in the right direction, we can continue to  hope that we shall overcome.     With the sophisticated media, we have no reason anymore to justify our ignorance about what is happening around the globe,  and how it is affecting  everybody;  we have all become so interconnected.   I think the following words of Dr. Martin Luther King are  so pertinent regarding this issue:

 

“We are tied together in a single garment of destiny,

We are caught in a network of mutuality,

 And I can never be who I ought to be

 Until you are who you ought to be.”

 

So I hope that the love that preserves,  is also able to preserve our Globe and spare it and spare its inhabitants further suffering that humans are imposing on each other as well as on the environment that we are living in.

 

Go with love and peace.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Indeed Absurd


Soon after the International Criminal Court confirmed its jurisdiction, it announced  on March 3, 2021 the opening of a formal investigation into crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, after 2014.  While the Palestinians along with other human rights organizations,  applauded the decision,  the Israeli PM, Mr. Netanyahu, commented that it was absurd,  which inspired me with the title of this reflection.  Indeed absurd, but   not the investigation.   What is really absurd is the fact that Israel considers itself the only democracy in the region and  refuses to be accountable to anybody despite  its long history of violations of the Palestinian human rights.   In fact it should be grateful that the investigation will only cover the period as far back as 2014, because Israel’s   history of violations of human rights goes back to the early days of the  establishment of the state, not withstanding the “terrorist attacks of the Jewish gangs  under the British Mandate.  

 

It was not surprising  to hear  Mr.  Blinkin, the US secretary of the State, objecting to the investigation.  What else is new?  Without  the moral and financial support of the USA  Israel would have never been  able to get away with all its violations of the rights of the Palestinians.   It is high time that Israeli leaders and soldiers should start worrying now that the ICC is opening  its investigation.  

 

However, it won’t be surprising at all that Israel will once again use the “gimmick” of AntiSemitism to blackmail members of the  International Criminal Court.  We have already seen how being  labeled as anti-Semitic has played a role in ousting politicians as well as university professors and others. We have seen a number of cases where people lose their integrity by silence, rather than be falsely labeled anti-Semitic.   Will  the court  succumb?  Or will its members  stand up against all the pressure and uphold the terms of its  mandate, and prove to be an honest court of Justice?  Let us hope so, and hope that Israelis will finally pay the price, as well as learn the  lesson that justice and only justice, and not blackmailing,  will bring about security and peace in the region.