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.