My baker is a Palestinian. A while ago, every time I went to her bakery and there were no customers, we were never short of topics of conversation. That is how I learned many things about her country that the mass media never report, because quite often she used to communicate by phone with her family or with her neighbors from overseas when they came to Spain.
When the news is compelling, newspapers report it, of course, although most of the time in a distorted way. At minimum, the distortion consists of treating the Palestinian tragedy as a conflict between more or less equal sides. And they refer to that tragedy, the tragedy of a whole people, the suffering of Palestinians, as the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict.” I once published a piece on the topic at Rebelión.
The media, for instance, have not informed their readers that the looting of Palestinian homes by the Israeli army is a daily matter. Every day, groups of soldiers patrol the streets of cities and towns and burst into homes, breaking TVs and other appliances, furniture, ripping up pictures, throwing clothes on the floor. Their excuse is that they “suspect” that terrorists are being hidden there. And very often they even find them, because, in theory, for Israelis all Palestinians are terrorists. There is no doubt that this behavior is part of a continuous maneuver to wear down all moral resistance, to physically and mentally exhaust the Palestinians so that those who don’t want to be stacked in jails or cemeteries flee and go to live crammed together with others in refugee camps.
But later it was I who started to bring news and articles about the problem to my friend. She had a computer, but no connection to the Internet. So I printed all the articles published at Rebelión and gave them to her when I went by to get my bread.
I could write a book with what Mariam has told me over the years, but I will only refer here to an event that happened three years ago during the month of August, just a few days after she arrived from a visit to a village – I forgot its name – near Jerusalem. That event by itself could fill several volumes of a universal history of infamy:
"I was on their kitchen terrace, watching how a boy no older than eleven or twelve removed an Israeli flag that was hanging on the door of a building and replaced it with a Palestinian one. Palestinian flags have been forbidden for a long time and, at night, boys switch them. But the boy I was watching got caught by soldiers. They took hold of him and jokingly tried to force him to kiss the Israeli flag and to step on the Palestinian one. The boy did just the opposite: he kissed the Palestinian flag and stepped on the Israeli one. They dragged him to his house. He lived a few doors from ours. A few minutes later, I’m not sure how long, I heard a shot. Do you know what the soldiers had done? They had taken the boy to his house, forced his parents to sit in an armchair, placed him on their knees AND then they shot him in the head.
Don’t ask me to tell you more histories about Palestine. I’ve seen many things and many of them I’ve not been able to avoid because I had an M16 aimed at my head. The life of Palestinians is worth so very little.”
There was a period in our conversations, after she came back, that we tried to figure out the root of such behaviour by the Israelis, a people who, three years after the end of their own Holocaust, began a series of predations and crimes that would end up in a new Holocaust – this one even more despicable due to its atrocious cynicism and hypocrisy, its almost burlesque challenge to both international bodies and the international community, its abuse of force: theirs is the third largest army in the world and the U.S. helps them to reach where their own power doesn’t. Readers of Rebelion know well that Israel has disregarded some fifty condemnatory resolutions by the United Nations, all them rejected by the U.S. veto.
Palestinians are the first cousins of those who now rob and kill them. They are descendants of Jews who remained in Palestine after the catastrophe of the year 70 A.D*., and who later converted to Islam. Jewish historians themselves have now demonstrated that the so-called Diaspora never happened and was just another falsification of history by Zionism. Palestinians have lived in this land for more than two thousand years so they are its natural owners. They have remained on it in spite of successive occupations – Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, British – always as a people and even holding administrative positions. The plundering that began with the Balfour Declaration is well known by those who are interested in the topic.
Politically, the systematic deterioration of the Palestinian cause culminated in Oslo. In human terms, the horror became a real genocide last year in Gaza. In Oslo, the Israelis lied with knavery in front of Yasser Arafat, with whom – at least theoretically – they had to agree to a division of the territory (by the way, an even less equal and much more harmful one for Palestinians than the one that an incipient UN carried out in 1948, one which during more than sixty years nobody has dared to complete). Deceived or lacking any another option, Arafat signed an agreement that implied the recognition of the State of Israel but which said nothing of the most important problems: Jerusalem, the refugees, the Israeli settlements, security, the exact borders... Israel cared very little what it had just signed: the following day it forgot the pact on Gaza and the West Bank and approved new colonialist settlements, and continued harassment of Palestinians with controls that make it impossible for them to move, with highways for the occupiers and bad roads for the occupied, with continuous obstacles to the entry into the Palestinian territories of international aid and the most essential medicines , with the building of a separation wall and, in general, an real policy of apartheid. Israel needed just one excuse – a shooting in Hebron on November 18, 2002 – to declare the Oslo agreements null and void , while Ariel Sharon, who was president at the time, called on the Jewish community to move into the area.
Why so much falsehood, so much wickedness?, we wondered. Why so much disguised injustice, which is not the product of a sick isolated mind but rather of a broad group of people, an injustice that has not ceased to grow since the end of 19th century, when Theodore Herltz founded Zionism? They never cared for the natives of the land they claimed God had given them as property. Some statements by the Zionist’s own leaders clearly demonstrate this:
– We have to expel the Arabs and occupy their place. (David Ben Gurion)
– There cannot be Zionism, colonization nor a Jewish State without the expulsion of Arabs and the expropriation of their lands. (Ariel Sharon to France Press, November 15, 1998)
– The partition of Palestine is not fair. We will never accept it. Eretz Israel will be given back to the people of Israel. All of it and forever. (Menahem Begin)
– A Palestinian partner for a negotiation does not exists. (Ariel Sharon)
– I have always believed in the eternal and historical right of our people to all this earth. (Ehud Olmert, before the U.S. Congress, June 30, 2006)
– There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist. (Golda Meir)
– We will never permit a Palestinian State. (Netanyahu, very recently)
Very recently, I heard a colonist from the West Bank – a tiny, supposedly Palestinian territory after Oslo – who said on TV: “We will never leave this land. It was given to us by God.”
So if it was given to them by God… who will discuss it?
From what place and from what philosophy could such a cold wickedness originate, such a poisonous scorn for other men and women, as much Semites as they themselves**? After scribbling many pages trying to explain my feelings in a brief essay, I ended up writing the following poem, “The Prophet Claims,”
There are still
so many Palestinians alive,
oh, children of Zion.
Such a long time banishing them,
and they still breathe.
There are still so many Palestinians
living by your side.
Don’t you see them?
Don’t you hear them?
They pretend to be
the owners of this land,
because they were born of those who remained here
after the the sandals of the Roman legions
trampled their crops, their olive trees,
their stores and their dovecots.
What are you waiting for, sons of Zion?
Didn’t you hear Yahweh’s commandment?
‘Cause if you don’t the Eternal One
– great and terrible –
will vent its fury upon you.
Upon you, who know
– they have taught you since childhood –
women, men and children
don’t deserve to live
in your fields,
in your cities.
What are you waiting for to exterminate them?
They desecrate your land,
that glorious land
given to you by Yahweh as inheritance.
By Yahweh who , even if he doesn’t exist,
can still offer many fields,
from East to West
and under the sea,
over the clouds
and beyond the horizon.
Fields of milk and honey
that are yours,
because you stole them,
you stole them twice,
as Yahweh had ordered you,
by the prophet’s mouth,
blessed is Yahweh,
the Saint of all Saints,
even if he doesn’t exist.
Look and see,
there is a woman there still
next to the well, under the palm.
She carries a son in her womb.
You can murder them both with a single slash.
tear out her entrails,
rip out the son she is awaiting
and throw him to the pigs….
Because you don’t eat pig,
but pigs do eat Palestinian children.
Over there, on the other bank, a man
with empty hands
because the harvest is yours,
the grain is yours
and the stalks
and the fruit of the vine, and of the olive trees.
one of the living dead,
finish him off once and for all,
so his rags won’t sully Mount Zion’s
Look, further off still,
at that group of children
who are playing by the Jordan,
their small feet splashing in the marshes,
between myrtles and balsam.
So as not to dirty your hands,
smash them with your tanks.
Do not fear the stones they throw at you,
stones do no harm
if they are thrown by an innocent hand.
Men, women and children
they are not men, women or children
if they are Palestinian,
oh, sons of Zion.
Their pain is not pain
their words are not words
their complaints are not complaints
their tears are not tears
their wounds are not wounds
their death is not death
Erase them from the face of the sacred land.
Remember Moshe’s’ Law,
the servant of Yahweh,
the precepts and commandments
given to you by the Lord
the Saint of all Saints,
even if he doesn’t exist,
on Mount Horeb,
by the prophet’s mouth.
Obey, exterminate them,
lest the infinite thunder of Yahweh,
great and terrible,
fall upon you
to curse you all
and all your land.
If Israel doesn’t disappear once the U.S. stops helping it – a rather unthinkable possibility – it will never permit a Palestinian State. It is astonishing that both in the media and in international forums people still speak so profusely of a process of peace, of a roadmap, of meetings between the Israeli government and the sold out – more than weak – Palestinian Authority, all of this more than sixty years after the UN decreed a partition which was unjust but, in the end, was a partition nonetheless. Israel has frustrated all attempts and it will continue doing so. The Zionist’s will to keep all Palestinian land plus pieces of Syria and Lebanon to found Greater Israel, the biblical Israel, has been manifested with such clarity by its leaders that it seems incredible that there are still people willing to be deceived. Isn’t it sufficiently well known that Israel carried out an authentic massacre in Gaza, recognized as such by the UN – through the Goldstone Report – which found it guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity… and nothing happened? Isn't it true that, throughout more than half a century the preeminent international organization has pronounced fifty condemnatory resolutions against the Zionist government only to have it continue acting as if it couldn’t be bothered less, because it knows that, at the end the day, the U.S. veto will clear it of any condemnation? Who can expect anything from an encounter of ultra-right-wing Netanyahu with Mahmoud Abbas, held under unacceptable conditions, if everyone already knows what the Zionists seek?
What I wanted to emphasize with my poem is how theocrats justify their misdeeds, seeking refuge in the "orders" of a God invented by them. But that is typical of all religions, which are cultural phenomena, creations of some men to dominate other men through the manipulation of their consciences. All have commonalities and discrepancies, depending on the culture in which they originate and develop. The Christian religion is not unique. It is one among various Mediterranean religions. And, of course, it is syncretistic. It cannot be seriously argued that it was founded or inspired by a God who descended to earth. The Second Vatican Council decreed - in its Nostra Aetate encyclical - not that all the words of the Bible are inspired, but rather that it is as if God had written them himself. And then one goes on and reads the Tao Te Ching, the Zend Avesta, the Upanishads, the Koran and one finds that these are in no way inferior, either in form or in content, to what God has written. And not to mention Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Of all religions, Judaism is the one most clearly designed to suit the interests of a nation. And it will remain so. And so for that blatant theocracy to be proclaimed the only authorized democracy in the Near East and Middle East is nothing more than the most outrageous hypocrisy uttered by a society characterized by lies and hypocrisy.
Notes by the Arabic (Palestinian) translator Adib S. Kawar
*The author wrote: “Palestinians are the first cousins of those who now rob and kill them. They are descendants of Jews who remained in Palestine after the catastrophe of the year 70 A.D.,…” We take the liberty to correct this piece of information: According to our knowledge some Jews may have converted to Islam and Christianity, but those are a minority among Palestinian Arabs, the vast majority of today’s Palestinian Arabs are the descendents of the Canaanites, Yabosites and Arabs who came with the spread of Arabs with the spread of Islam in addition to others who inhabited Palestine thousands of years before the Hebrew tribes that invaded Palestine claiming that their God promised them the land of Canaan (Palestine). The Yabosites built Jerusalem (The city of peace) 1500 years before the Hebrew king, David, invaded the city and changed its name to call it the “City of David”, and made it his capital for only seventy years when the Yabosites liberated it from Hebrew occupation. It is well known that Christian Arabs who lived in greater Syria under the Byzantine Empire, and they joined the Arab armies against the Christian Byzantines who were ruling the area at the time.
** The vast majority of those who consider themselves Jews today’s are of non-Semitic origin, they are of Turkic central Asian origin who settled to the north of Caspian sea and are known as Khazari Jews www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/07-Jews-As.../section-5.html
- (The king of the Khazars learned the Torah with the assistance of the Jewish preacher Isaac Sangari, whose existence has recently been verified (by the discovery of poems authored by Sangari in the Firkovitch collection of manuscripts). In the 9th century, the Khazarian kings and nobles officially converted to Judaism.); so how could they be considered of Semitic origin. Are Jews with few others could only be considered as Semitic.
Original article published on 7 December 2009
About the author
Manuel Talens and David Brookbank are members of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, translator and editor are cited.
URL of this article on Tlaxcala: http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=9465&lg=en