Saturday, April 19, 2008


In May of 1948, Jews, later Israelis, in Palestine and around the world rejoiced at the proclamation of themselves - a new country in Palestine. They called it Israel.

Palestinians mourned. Fate had dealt them a stunning blow, their time had stood still, and life was no more. Palestinians watched helplessly as their country disappeared from the world stage and was replaced by another called “ Israel”. A new people with strange faces, strange languages, who came by the boat load from the shores of Europe to set foot on their land and claim the emptied homes as well as take away their orchards and olive trees.

In 2008, it has been sixty years since that fateful day in May when Palestinians suddenly found themselves strangers in their own land, strangers in the desert, refugees in hostile Arab lands, people without home, without a county.

In 1948 Palestinians were forced to pack whatever they could. Some did not have the chance, for they were cut down before they were able to flee the incoming terror and death.

Those who survived the onslaught left behind homes guarded only by their treasured ancient olive trees that witnessed their misfortunes.

Living a life in exile, in miserable refugee camps, in tent cities, subjected to cruelty and humiliation at the hands of their Arab brethrens. They were treated little better than animals, often times as suspects, as foreigners readily available to be sacrificed or deported to some desolate location; and in many cases simply killed off. Palestinians, however, lived on.

The world had failed the Palestinian people, While Israel and its people are treated as the legitimate owners of the land, received and welcomed in world’s capitals, but more painfully in Arab capitals. Palestinians are treated like outcasts that should be caged, and quartered in ghettos in hostile landscapes.

In 1948 Palestine was lost without a real fight.Five Arab Armies said to have wanted to liberate Palestine from the gripping hands of the Jewish Militias. Contrary to Israelis myths of heroic victory of biblical proportions over six massive armies; the combined Arab forces were no more than 20,000 soldiers. None of those armies had an air force or tanks to fight with. Lebanon, the supposed sixth Arab country, did not fight or send anything across the border. Jewish militias on the other hand totaled over 60,000 soldiers who received superior training in European and American armies, were equipped with top of the line weaponry, trained pilots and a lethal air force.

The same Arab defeat happened all over again in 1967. This time around, Palestine was swallowed whole, and yet again, without a real fight.

Betrayed, the Palestinians were the real losers in all of these wars. Their country was robbed in broad daylight, without a fight. Their society was destroyed and their institutions lay in ruins, and now they had to be content to live at the mercy of this government or that, or receiving hand outs and charity, or to be in prison and murdered in Israeli prisons.

In 2008 Palestinians in Gaza cannot leave that strip of poverty and misery without a gesture of mercy from the ruler of Cairo, or the strange man sitting Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. In Lebanon, the Lebanese government outlaws the Palestinian right to work in the country. The government,instituted Nazi-like laws that prohibit Palestinians refugees from working in 60 professions such as teachers, doctors or engineers. Palestinians carry no IDs, only some pale document that state their status as Refugees that live on the margin of that society in a ghetto with open sewers and no running water.
In Iraq,extremist Shia militias would kill any Palestinian on site upon discovering that he was “ one of them” meaning a Palestinian. Palestinians there carry no identity card; they carry their identity in their hearts.

tormented and murdered wholesale and in detail by their enemies, such atrocities however, did not lessen or succeed in erasing the memory of the homeland from the heart of every living Palestinian refugee, with or without an identity card. Until return, Palestinians are not going away, nor will they simply be content to disappear from existence, for every Palestinian, his existence depends on his resistance.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Palestinians in Iraq;life on edge

Published by AlArab newspaper, London, UK.\04\04-08\zopinionz\960.htm

By Ali Alarabi

The recent gruesome murder of Palestinian female doctor, Layla Ali Taha and her young daughter in Baghdad, this past Friday (4/5/2008)at the hands of Shia death squads, who murdered them in cold blood hacking them with kitchen knives then burning their bodies into charred remains shows not only the grave danger Palestinian face in Iraq, but it also shows a trend of a slow but simmering religious persecution and extermination of Palestinian Arabs at the hands of Iraqi Shias supported by Iran.

According to my Shia Iraqi sources,over 260 Palestinian were murdered in Iraq, in the past five years, at the hands of the Shia government soldiers and religious militias many of those victims were children and women. Among those killed was Shiekh Tawfiq Abdel Khaliq one of the most respected and honorable local Palestinian Imams, who happened to be traveling to an area of Baghdad and was stopped by a checkpoint manned by government shia soldiers and upon learning that he was a Palestinian, he was killed in cold blood.

Palestinians are being targeted because they are mainstream Muslims, they are not Shias and they are not Iraqis. Shia militias, receiving religious blessing from their Ayatollahs and supported by Iran military and financially, are orchestrating a campaign of murder and genocide against the helpless Palestinian refugees.

Shias extremists hold that those Palestinian refugees whose numbers were less than 25000 before the war, were living better than the entire 30 million Iraqis and that they were Saddam’s spoiled cronies and lived better life style while ordinary Iraqis starved.

The truth however is anything but that. Palestinians never had it better than any average Iraqi, true that under saddam they were not persecuted simply because they kept to themselves, and did not intervene in politics, for they were not Iraqi citizens to begin with despite living there for generations.

Palestinian refugees in Iraq lived in a government built system of buildings, a Ghetto that consists of 16 huge old elongated buildings, each building has 4 entrances, and each entrance has three floors and each floor has 4 apartments. That puts number of apartments in each building to 48 apartments and the grand total of apartments in the whole system would be 768 apartments all belong to the government. By law, Palestinians cannot own a property in Iraq, not today under Shia rule, not under Saddam and not before that.

Despite living in Iraq for generations, the only documentation they had was a government issued ID stamped with the word “ Palestinian” and sometimes issued travel documents if they needed to travel.

( Palestinian family in housing unit in Baladiyat)

Caging the Palestinians in this ghetto, in the Baladiyat area is not an indication of a community that lived the life of riches and leisure while Iraqis starved to death so claim the Shia Iraqis and several of their holy Ayatollahs. The Ghetto consists of small apartments and shacks built in buildings courtyards and on rooftops, in order to accommodate natural growth. Any visitor to the Baladiyat area would not see wide tree-lined boulevards filled with mansions or nice villas for the Palestinians to live in.

The Palestinians true crime is that they are Arabs and more, they are Muslims in a country that has been converted into an exclusively Shia country and looks more Iranian than Arab.

That said, however, there are many patriotic Shia Arabs whose identity is Arab and Muslim in the larger sense of word ,and who are committed to the betterment of their country away from the sectarian and mini religious wars simmering under and above the surface,which if persisted will doom the modern country of Iraq in a state of permanent disaster.

Iranians in Najaf and Karbala, Basra, and Baghdad already number in the millions according to Iraqi reports. Iranians live in Iraq freely without noticing any difference between Tehran and Baghdad or Karbala or Najaf. Persian has become a dominant language in Basra and Najaf and other southern cities. Iraqi Shia Arabs feel more kinship and closer to Iran in terms of their religion and belief system than to other Arabs.

As for Palestinians, the key to survive and to avoid an agonizing death at the hands Shia death squads is to never show any traces of Palestinian accent for it will for sure make them marked for death. Speaking Arabic in pure Iraqi Baghdadi accent is one way to survive on a day-by-day basis.

Another way to survive is not to venture outside the Ghetto unless it is absolutely necessary. The Ghetto has its own small business, doctors and other basic services needed to maintain a meager but precious existence. The local mosque, however, was not spared from Shia militias attempts to either burn it to the ground or from firing their guns inside it.

But for older Palestinians of the original generation that made Iraq home after 1948, perfecting an Iraqi accent could be a tricky adventure, for they still retain traces of their accents of villages and town in Palestinian cities they fled some sixty years ago such as Haifa, and Yafa. Luckily however, those older Palestinians who speak a Palestinian flavored Iraqi accent can be mistaken of being Iraqis from the northern city of Mosul, a city that looks and feels closer to greater Syria and its accent sounds closer to the Shami Arabic accent.

Most Palestinian professionals, doctors, lawyers, engineers and others have managed to leave the country by paying their way out, the same trend goes for Iraqi educated class. Iraq has seen most of its professional class especially doctors and scientists either killed off or fled the country forever.

Today, Palestinians numbers in Iraq had shrunk into 14000 thousands, almost half of what it was before the war. 2000 thousands of those are living in camp of Al-Waleed camp in the desert between Iraq, Jordan and Syria. No Arab country is willing to admit those hapless refugees or assist them. They are stranded in the desert under the care of UN higher commission for refugees and an Italian humanitarian agency, which work to arrange medical treatment for sick Palestinian children and place them along with their families in European countries that are willing to take them. Another 300 Palestinian refugees were taken in by Syria and placed in the middle of the desert in camp in the Hasakah province. Brazil had already accepted some of those refugees, and Chile also agreed to take a number of them. The only Arab country agreed to accept the Palestinian refugees is Sudan.

For Palestinians, to live in the Arab world, is to live a schizophrenic life style. Palestinians have to get accustomed to Arab governments and leaders rhetoric and speeches with words like “We support our Palestinian brothers” “ Israel is the enemy” long live free Arab Palestine” and death to Israel” the reality for Palestinians however is that they are the only ones who are doing the dying, thrown in the middle of desert, thrown in Arab government jails, getting killed, burnt to death, or hacked to pieces by the same “ brothers” who were chanting long live Palestine in the yesteryear.

Even Iranian president Ahmadi Najad whose militant pronouncements against Israel threatening her of death and destructions, rings hollow giving that only Palestinians are being killed and destroyed with his money and weapons on his behalf at the hands of his henchmen and subordinates in Iraq.
For those Palestinians in Iraq, life has been suspended and can only resume in another, more peaceful land.

(Ali Alarabi is an award winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at

Monday, April 07, 2008

The murder of Palestinians by Iraqi Shia

Palestinian Doctor Layla Ali Taha and her young daughter were brutally killed yesterday, Thursday April/3/2008 by Shia death squads in their apartment in Zayounah area of Baghdad.

Dr. Layla and her daughter were attacked, stabbed and hacked with knives until death , then their attackers burned their bodies and the entire apartment.

This heinous crime comes as part of systematic extermination campaign of Palestinians by Shia death squads, who are supported by Iran, according to reports from Iraq.

Dr. Layla's and her young daughter charred remains will be brought to mosque for prayer and burial in the Baladiyat area om friday, the next day.

Palestinians in Iraq are facing more hardship and extreme danger because they are Palestinian Arabs and non Shia Iraqis. Palestinians who have been living in Iraq for over 60 years, since 1948,have never been allowed to own property, or have IDS, and have no Iraqi citizenship, or any other citizenship.

In the past 5 years, Palestinians were targeted by Shia militants and death squads for extermination and murder campaign designed to drive them out of the country.
Thousands of Palestinians have fled Iraq thus far, many were taken by Latin American countries, as far as Chile and Brazil, and some European countries. Arab countries have refused to admit those refugees in their countries, thus, perhaps inadvertently, helping Israel in keeping the Palestinian refugees as far as possible from the Middle East.

Over 260 Palestinians were murdered in the past five years by Iraqi shia death squads.

( The murder of dean of the Palestinian community in Iraq, Sheikh Tawfiq Abdel Khaliq,by Iraqi Shias on March,21/2006)

Palestinian in Iraq are living in mortal fear of being identified as Palestinians , and those who live outside the Palestinian ghetto, are being murdered when their neighbors identify them as Palestinians thus bringing Shia death squads to brutally kill them as in the case of Dr. Layla Taha.

Most of the remaining 14000 Palestinians who are trapped in Iraq are living in the Ghetto in the Baladiyat area in Baghdad , in addition to another 1000 Palestinian live in the city of Mosul.