Western governments and press were loud in their silences when Israel rammed roughshod into Palestine territory and brutally snuffed out the lives of 1400 Palestinians. This is not the first time, during which hundred of Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in the preceding couple of years. The indiscriminate killings hundreds of Palestinians at time, by Israel is actually not limited to the last couple of years. It is a periodic and rather regular occurrence. There is sense of an apocalyptic foreboding, regarding what Israel may do next, not in Palestine, but instead, an military attack against Iran, which could very easily become the beginning of the Third World War!
Why does the world, appear to have made “peace” with the deliberate devaluation of life in Palestine? And in comparison with Iran, what is the difference between the lives of Palestinians and the Iranians? Why did Western governments and press, all of sudden become advocates and advertisers of martyrdom after the death of Neda? All of a sudden, Neda was omnipresent and wrapped symbolisms. And even those who hitherto suffered from self-inflicted xenophobia and unrestrained Islamo-phobia, suddenly became “informed” interpreters of martyrdom, right before our very eyes, all of a sudden!
The world should be asking, why there are these double standards in the measurements of life’s value and worth in Palestine and Iran? Advocacy of democracy, freedom, liberty and human rights etc should not be motivated by our self-serving interests. Human Rights and democracy etc should be pursued genuinely for because of the known value of these great ideas; And not informed by expediency of our self-interests.
There are legitimate Human Rights, democracy and the rule of law etc in Iran. And that was the case before, during and after the June 12 2009 flawed elections. Similarly, There are Human Rights, democracy, liberty, political independence etc in Palestine, the crises in Palestine are rather intractable.
Clearly, a Palestine demonstrator against settlement expansions on Palestine land by Israelis is too easily construed as Palestine terrorist. A Palestinian who resists land grabs by Israelis, a Palestinian is an unreasoned terrorist who does not value human life, if she says to Israel, what a former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, that is, tear down the Apartheid Wall!
A Palestinian who endures humiliations in daily life, including being a permanent refugee in his own land since 1948, and compelled daily to present an Apartheid like pass to Israelis, for ingress and egress on Palestine soil, is a terrorist? Palestinians who are resisting occupiers and occupation forces; in the only existing colonial enclave, such a Palestinian, is a terrorist? What would you, and I, do, if we were, and are, subjected to the same fate to which Palestinians have had to endure since 1948 and still endure, even as you read this?
Before anyone accuses me of seeking 70 Heavenly Virgins, as reason for my expression of dismay and disgust, over the plights and predicaments of Palestinians; Let it known that I am not biologically a Palestinian. I was not raised as a Muslim. One does not have to be a Muslim to identify obvious and perpetual human suffering. Nor does anyone have to be of Palestinian descent, Arabian or Persian origin, before one can see the glaring injustices and inhumanity meted unto Palestinians.
Let it be known that I do not have the strength for 70 women on earth or heaven. And virgins are just too much work anyway! I am impatient with the sorts of pedagogical efforts it would require to teach one virgin, let alone, 70, worse, I prefer my gifts here, as heaven can wait, as we must first, deal with all the trouble in the world, including the abject and appalling conditions in Palestine! I have no desire for the urban legend and folkloric 70 Heavenly virgins.
Injustice in Palestine therefore, is injustice to fellow humans cohabiting earth with the rest of us all. We should care.
Those who seek to undermine Palestinian cause have over the years, portrayed Palestinians as unreasoned, illogical, murderous, and possessed with mindless bloodlust. Critics of Palestinians want the world to believe that the average Palestinian is incapable of objectivity or negotiation for peace. Palestine is too often presented as a place where the average citizen is an Islamic extremist and zealot who seeks martyrdom and 70 heavenly virgins. Such inanities present Palestinians as subhuman, and as if in Palestine, the average Joe Plumber, come prepackaged with terrorist tendency in their genetic markers!
Palestinians who are seeking freedom from oppression are too often presented as persons seeking phantasmagoric orgies of blood and orgasmic satisfaction from suicide bombing. Perhaps the world ought to and must ask, how any person, driven to the wall of hopelessness and with seeming nothing to lose, would act.
Palestinians are not unreasoned. They simply want their land. Just as they want their suffering and hardship to be recognized. They want their endless refugee status to have an expiration date stamped on it. They want the usurpation of their political, economic and cultural power to come to an end. This is not too much for any group of people to ask.
We have to wonder how the average citizen in Palestine must feel, when as it happens, 1400 Palestinian are killed, houses burnt, bombed and bulldozed by Israelis, and the world suffers willful amnesia, rather blissfully. But the same world cried ceaseless tears for Neda Soltani and the other 60 plus Iranians who died during the post June 12th election imbroglios. What is good for 69 dead Iranians must be good for 1400 dead Palestinians; unless 1400 is less than 69 in the New World Order mathematics of geopolitics?
The world ought to be expressing righteous indignations and rightfully so! Palestinians are humans, just like Iranians and the rest of us! Public policies driven by expediency are shortsighted and parochial. Such policies are merely gunpowder and high octane petrol in a hot and unventilated room. Such highly flammable combustibles are bound to sooner than later, come home to roost. There is oppression and inhumanity in Palestine. The conditions in Palestine are combustible accelerants by any other name.
In Palestine, the ordinary person, on a daily basis faces inhuman conditions. People in Palestine are subjected to depraved and exceedingly perverse treatments. Why would these sorts of degradations be reserved for ordinary persons in Palestine, who are not necessarily violent persons? Palestinians who are not in the government of PLO, FATAH or HAMAS? There is a pervading worldwide silence regarding the searing conditions face by citizens of Palestine. And what is worse, is the fact that the deaths in post election activities in Iran, saw loud drumbeats by governments and the press. Whereas 1400 deaths in Palestine went unsung! These sordid state of affairs surely cannot continue or peace and security will remain an elusive dream forever.
This essay is dedicated to the memory of a Jewish woman, the late Susan Sontag, author of, among many written works, a wonderful one titled: Regarding the Pain of Others. Susan Sontag was woman, a woman who, in her written prose expressed beautiful thoughts; A woman whose beautiful prose was matched by her own gorgeousness in real life. A woman, whose gentle soul courageously carried the lights of social conscience, so that others can see and find their pathways; a woman who rendered, her thoughts in beautiful prose; she was a luminous beauty in person and in her thoughts and care for others.
A woman, who did not allow her biological origins and religion to foreclose or serve as bar for the truth. Even when it was eminently inconvenient and uncomfortable to those near, dear an
d treasured by her.