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Friday, April 29, 2005


Good Friday Message

by Laila Faisal

For those who would tell the Palestinians to speak out against racism be it of the Palestinian or Israeli variety, I think that one needs to live amongst them to realize that no one and nothing is preparation for the reality of the life that they lead. Most importantly one will realize how little they care what the outside world thinks of them or wants to do for them. Please forgive my bluntness, but the Palestinians that I know do not actually care who blames them for passiveness or otherwise, and who supports them in rhetoric and who does not (and that includes their Arab brothers as well). They actually do not give a nickel either way, and they have many reasons to make them feel this way.

First, let me say that they realize, more than any outsider does,
that politicians like [Mustapha] Bargouthy are just ambitious politicians, who
say what is expected of a politician. When he addresses his own
people he says things for local consumption which he would not say
to an American, Western or Israeli audience. The bottom line is that all
politicians do stand in the wings waiting for foreign approval and
ready for their turn to try their hands on the wheel of power, and
when they start to show up on western podiums it means that their future
seats might be pending, but most assuredly is already reserved.

Bargouthy is also duplicated by others who do not even call
themselves moderates as he does. Still their hawkish approach
to the Palestinian issue is as questionable as that of moderates.
The fact is that no one who gains access to western podiums
stands a chance of representing a majority of Palestinians in a fair
and democratic election. All of the elections so far, as in all of Arabia, have been mere facades, fabricated and then forcefully shoved down people's throats. They only serve as proxies for foreign interests, and even many of these proxies do in fact advocate what some Palestinian sympathizers call the right weapon for victory over Zionism, i.e., exposing its racism.

Ordinary Palestinians do not even consider this option a
weapon. Had it been one, it should have worked a long time ago when the
U.N. decided Israel was actually a racist state. It was not enough;
the resolution remained ink on paper, as we say in Arabic, but the
same U.N., after decades of non action, changed its verdict as
reality proved the whole world including the U.N. itself was
incapable of acting upon the resolution and holding Israel
accountable for its racism. Israel talks, nobody walks, so says the U.S. superpower.

Why are the Palestinians indifferent to presenting Israel in all its racism? Actually, the Palestinian scene is so complicated and nightmarish any judgment
passed on it is inevitably hasty and flawed at best, ignorant or ill-
intended at worst, and more so when judgment comes from those who
have the luxury and comfort of safe lives, never having to go through
the living hell of life under occupation. Who says being a refugee
many times over in one's own homeland is normal enough to be judged
by normal standards of politics, or even intellectual activism?
For decades on end, there has been nothing normal in the daily
lives of Palestinians. Fathers do not go to work; children do not go
to schools; moms do not stay home to cook, and no one gets to
live happily ever after. The sky rains fire. The soil is made to
bury trees not grow them. Homes are razed to the ground the moment that
they pop up on the ruins of the previous ones. Israeli army
snipers practice on Palestinian children even when they do not throw
stones. Palestinian women give birth to future stonethrowers in the streets at Israeli checkpoints. School girls drink drugged water that makes them infertile so that they do not give birth any more to stone throwers. Every family has multiple tragedies to tell. Volumes could not start to convey the morbid realities Palestinians face on the hour every hour.

There are no proper elections to produce representatives of
all this; there are no civil society channels to which to voice
dismay, and unrest gets crushed by vicious power. Finally, the people's true wishes become a source of despair. How could it not after decades of such a downslide of affairs that does not seem to even have a rock bottom to hit, ever?

Outsiders count the lashes; Palestinians get them . That is an
old saying that I have twisted and applied here to show that Palestinians
believe outsiders neither will nor can do anything for them. Regardless what world public opinion thinks, or a what a crippled international legitimacy says on paper, one must be a Palestinian living in the inferno of Palestine to understand why these people are beyond any mere western-culture-oriented
intellectual argument. Not that western-cultured-activists and
politicians do not exist, but how much weight or power or means do
the ones that advocate dismantling the state of Israel over its
racism have in reality, or in practical applicable measures? Those whose daily lives are simply grotesquely surreal under siege, humiliation, house raids, checkpoints, assassinations, demolition of houses; warfare methods of combating public unrest, to mention only a few ugly realities, also realize that they may only count on their stones, and their cottage economy, and on their mass production of stone throwers, not on computer activists. Palestinians do not even know that they exist. Neither may they depend upon demonstrations in foreign cities that ease the conscience of activists who want to make right what their governments make wrong, nor on U.N. resolutions; they know rats nibble on them in U.N. storage basements, nor on petitions that never freed an inch of land. All the good intentions in the world so far did not ease the pain of one Palestinian mother whose child came home a
corpse when he stepped out to buy something across the street.

What Palestinians have learned to count on is their stones, and passing the
tale, one generation to the other, keeping the dream alive.
Dismantling Israel will always be the sole quest of Palestinian nationals; regardless what anybody says to the contrary. They do not
compromise on the Arab character of Palestine, and utterly reject
any foreign identity of statehood, Jewish or otherwise; even if it
would miraculously turn humane towards Arabs. It is like rejecting
the American occupation of Iraq. It is like previous Arab struggles
against European colonialism. Foreigners who occupy Palestinian
houses and cultivate Palestinian land are the enemy even if they are
secular. To oppose original Jewish existence in Palestine is
racism; to oppose the existence of foreign Jews who came from all
over the world and did not have historic roots in Palestine is the
issue. It is voiced loud and clear for any one who cares to listen
carefully. Listen; that is, not to the likes of politicians mentioned in your debate, nor to the likes of Palestinians who gave you the wrong impression, but to the nation at large, in their refugee camps, in their besieged cities, in their Friday and Sunday prayers, and yes away from western podiums extended to

Dismantling Israel is not achievable in the here and now, but
what is doable in the here and now is to keep the concept alive and to
wait for history to make its turns and cycles in due time.

That is the issue, and that is the message, and if Palestinian
sympathizers in the U.S. and elsewhere would like to help the
suppressed Palestinians, and actually do something tangible about a
grossly complicated existential struggle, they are advised to kindly
try to stop American apaches from occupying Palestinian skies, the
American Army fighting for Israeli interests, and American governments
financing and supporting the most expensive statehood in the world
in Israel with their tax money, and American Congress legislating tailor-
made laws to fit Israeli interests. At the same time, educate the majority of the
American people who do not even care to know the geography of the
world, let alone its history that geography and history are like
karma--what goes around comes around.

For those activists who mean well, speak of what you think you should
do to help Palestine, and not what Palestine should do to help
itself become free and independent, for even love is rejected when it
is conditional.

This is a nation weary and desperate for a break to breath air, not
death and humiliation, a nation that suffers from total loss of
faith in its own leadership, in its own politicians, in Arab
brothers, in the international legitimacy, and in foreign and outside
support. Personally, I think that it is daring and even insulting to ask
of this traumatized nation to do better than try to find a shelter
for their children and food to put on the table although this same
nation performs miracles; they hold on to their constant principle of the
Arab identity of their homeland and they are dying for it daily.
That is far beyond heroism; it deserves unconditional support and
genuine efforts to identify with their peculiar and specific
realities, not what we imagine them to be.

As for the diaspora Palestinians who do not speak up especially in
the U.S., I think that after being stateless and homeless for so long that it is
only human to fear consequences of opposing host countries.
Palestinians have been this road before; they know that not even Arab
countries were gracious hosts. Such a question neglects the fact that the U.S. and the West are not friendly places towards Arabs and Muslims, even less so
after September 11. How could the U.S. in particular be fair towards Arabs when it passed the Patriot Act, which limits the freedom of its own peoples, and
then the American public itself, a long time mature democracy, does
nothing about its own loss of freedoms?

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