The Middle East stretches from Southwest Asia to North Africa through Central Asia. And whether we like it or not, we cannot ignore events in that part of the world. And in fact, we cannot and must not ignore events in any part of the world. Our individual level of interest may differ from one region to region and from one subject matter to another; still, what happens in Tehran or Tunis or Tripoli is, and should be of concern to anyone who can think, read and write. It is not for naught that we now think of the world as a global village — connected and interrelated in every which way. There are no more island-nations. In other words, whatever happens in one far-flung metropolis will sooner or later manifest itself in, and impact our neighborhood.
The Middle East crisis did not start with the ongoing events between the State of Israel on one hand and the Hezbollah and the HAMAS on the other. No! History did not start yesterday. This political commotion did not begin yesterday. However, to hear President George Bush tell it, the crisis started when Hezbollah killed one and snatched two Israeli soldiers. Well, he was wrong. He is wrong! No one who has followed the utterances of this president and his proxies will fail to come to one conclusion: they are either ignorant of history or, deciding to ignore history exhibits their bigotry towards the Palestinians. But of course President Bush and company have company — media commentators.
The vast majority of these commentators don’t even bother to conceal their biases and hate towards the oppressed. They have not bothered themselves with the truth. Sadder still is the fact that noted scholars have either willingly joined the “train of silence” or cajoled to keep quiet on the matter. In today’s world most are afraid of labels; or at the very least, no one wants to be though of as being soft on terrorism. Label your opponents “terrorists” and you’ll have the right to commit war crimes. Label your critic “terrorist” and you’ll earn the right to clobber him to death; or if you so desire, destroy his home and dreams and infrastructures. That is what we now have in the Middle East.
The ongoing Israeli offensive in Lebanon and Gaza is not new. Before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, there was Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu and a host of others; and before 2006 there was 1983 and various other military escapades. The only difference now is that the events of the last few days may turn out to be more ambitious — done with America’s approval (against the backdrop of global silence and cowardice). Before the Israelis and the Americans — especially in Palestine — there were the French, the British, the Ottoman Empire and local lords all browbeating the Palestinians.
Today, no one seems to remember why “terrorism” began in the first place. No one seems to remember that for upward of six decades the Israelis, with the tacit approval of the United States, have refused to grant the Palestinians statehood (independence).
No one seems to remember the predatory and exploitative US foreign policy in that part of the world. No one seems to remember that the Israelis have been killing women and children all over Palestine. And indeed, no one seems to remember that, with the help of the US, the Israelis have been slighting the international community, thumbing their nose at unfavorable UN Resolutions. Most people forget history; they forget why the sore continue to fester and instead wonder why the Middle East is always burning. They point to HAMAS and to Hezbollah and conveniently label these groups terrorist organizations. A more objective label would have been “Freedom Fighters.”
The Palestinians, along with their backers, are being blamed for the imaginable and unimaginable. When the State of Israel goes on a killing rampage, no one calls them terrorist; when the Israeli Defense Force hunts their opponents the White House does not see it as extra-judicial killing. But as soon as a Palestinian succeed in harming an Israeli the White House, the American media and their cronies act as though the Palestinians have just exterminated the human race. Who sings eulogy to dead Palestinians? Who send condolences? Are Palestinians not humans? Are they less human?
Does anyone know how many Palestinian infant and toddlers have been killed within the last several months? Does anyone know how many Lebanese have been killed in the ongoing slaughter-fest? But I bet the world know the number and the names of Israelis that have been killed in the last seven years. I guess killing with Apache helicopters, gunship, armored vehicles, and other high-tech military weapons is better and humane compared to suicide-bombings and ineffectual rockets.
At the heart of the struggle in that ancient land is the desire and the determination of the Palestinians to rid their land of invaders, territorialist, expansionists, and illegal occupiers and land grabbers. Are some organizations in Palestine engaged in terrorism? Yes, they do and continue to do so since it is the only legitimate weapons they have to rid their land of invaders. “Weapon of the weak” is permissible in all struggles. The Jews did the same thing to the British; the Vietnamese did the same to the French and Americans; the Algerians did the same to the French; and the African National Congress did something similar to Apartheid South Africa. Why not the HAMAS? Why not Hezbollah?
In other to have a free America, the Americans threw out the British. Therefore, it behooves HAMAS and other organizations to throw out the Israelis from the land recognized by the UN, the European Union and the AU as legitimate Palestinian land. The Israelis have a right to peaceful coexistence, security, and freedom in Israel. That said and believed — Palestine is not Israel and Israel is not Palestine. It is that simple. Why is it so difficult for Israel and the US to understand these simple facts? Why is it so difficult for anyone to understand that the root cause of the ongoing upheaval is the denial of independence to the Palestinians? This is about justice and fairness. This is about the right of a people to live in dignity — free from the trouble of their neighbor.
Now, how many innocent Lebanese do the Israelis suppose they can kill before they are satisfied with their barbaric acts? How many roads and bribes and hospitals and runways do they have to destroy? How many HAMAS and Hezbollah operatives can they kill and imprison and send into exile? How many? You can kill and destroy all you want; but you can’t kill and destroy people’s hope and aspiration. You can’t kill the human spirit. You can’t kill collective spirit. History did not begin a fortnight ago. It began a long time ago. And it teaches that no matter how powerful you are, you cannot suppress people’s hope. It teaches that you cannot kill or dampen people’s inalienable right to independence and dignity. Of all people, the Israelis should have had a better understanding of this simple lesson.
In other words, for the State of Israel and the United States to truly know peace — the State of Palestine must come to fruition. Militarily or diplomatically, an independent Palestine is the endgame. Nothing else will do. No one should pretend that Israel’s military expedition in Lebanon and Gaza is a fight against terrorism. No, it is not! This is simply one scene in a multiple act to postpone or kill a dream. Thankfully, dreams never die.