palestine journal: 17 july
i don't like fireworks....
i remember, a month after september 11th, 2001, I went to see my parents, and the
town was having an 'oktoberfest' celebration...someone had the 'bright idea' to have
a fireworks display at the celebration and, well, needless to say, no one was in the
mood. everyone was depressed, paranoid, jumpy, with each 'bang' people jumped, kids
cried....the whole thing was a bit of a disaster for the organizers....
and now i am here in bethlehem, five years later, and feeling a little bit the same
way....some people are firing off firecrackers to celebrate the high school exam
results, and with every 'bang', people jump. here, the chance that the 'bang' this
time might be 'the real thing' is much higher than in my parents' town a month after
every day i have to listen to the bang-bang-bang of the israeli training camp just
over the hill in the nearby israeli settlement.....it's non-stop.....training to
head into gaza and start shooting palestinians. or the F16s that sometimes whiz
overhead....on training missions before they head into lebanon to drop bombs on the
heads of civilians.....over 100 killed, and only one of them is a fighter with
hezbollah. the rest: men, women and children.....
i doubt that my friends in the USA are able to view this footage that we are
watching on the arabic tv stations - they've stopped reporting, even, they don't
have to say anything, just hour after hour of video footage of charred childrens'
bodies, destroyed bridges, convoys of evacuees (two of which have been hit by
Israeli missiles, killing over 30 people who were trying to head north away from the
missiles), burning buildings....
beirut is known as 'the paris of the middle east'....known for its music, its
singers, its nightlife and western culture, its sidewalk cafes and television
but now, the images of beirut i remember from a childhood in the eighties, when
israel and lebanon were at war, come flashing back to me as i see the footage of
on the streets of palestine, things are tense......israeli forces are setting up new
checkpoints all over the place (and yesterday, a group of internationals, israelis
and palestinians took non-violent direct action and removed a roadblock of dirt and
boulders that israeli soldiers had placed on a street near qalqilia)....
people greet each other with anxious looks and talk of 'haarb...fi labnon...' --
but underneath the concern, the overwhelming worry and concern for the safety of
their homes, families, children, many eyes hold a little spark of something else....
a little spark saying, "hezbollah....has finally come to our aid"......
'the party of god', in arabic.
to palestinians, hezbollah represents: the only armed force that has ever beaten
israel. what palestinian does not remember the images of just 6 years ago, of
Hezbollah fighters standing at the Israeli border driving the Israeli troops in a
retreat backward, back into their own sovereign territory, cheering and shooting
into the air? They had done what Palestinians had never, in the 40+ years of
Israeli occupation, been able to do: push the Israelis back onto their sovereign
state, stop the Israeli expansion and the creeping further and further outward
beyond its borders and onto Palestinian land.
So of course, Palestinians have a special kind of respect for these fighters who,
with guerrilla warfare, beat the fourth-largest army in the world......something
Palestinians, with all their non-violent marches, their appeals to the United
Nations, their begging for support from the Arab world, even with their flimsy,
disorganized resistance of old rifles and sticks of dynamite, have not been able to
but in the US, 'Hezbollah' is equivalent with "terrorism"....and indeed, Hezbollah
were the ones responsible for what could be called the first 'suicide bombing', when
the US had marines stationed in lebanon back in the eighties, helping Israel in
their invasion of that neighboring sovereign nation.....when a hezbollah fighter
drove a van full of explosives into a marines barrack and killed over 100 US
Bush got caught on tape at the G8 summit today saying to Tony Blair, "See, the irony
is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and
it's over", just after Blair had publicly called for UN peacekeepers to go to
His faux-pas revealed the level of his understanding of the region: absolute zip.
"It's over"? if Hezbollah stops? Israel will absolutely roll over Lebanon,
re-occupy it, as they did in the eighties, with full US military support, if
'Hezbollah stops', as he suggests. But then, Bush has no historical political
memory. He was drunk at the time, and failed his classes on the subject at Yale.
Meanwhile I, as an elementary schooler interested in politics, probably learned more
about the conflict than Bush ever bothered to find out. So all he has are briefs
from his advisors, telling him, "Syria funds Hezbollah", and that's all he needs to
know to be able to say to his fellow world-leader, "They need to get Syria to get
Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over". Ah, my dear Bush, if only things
were that simple. But as leader of 'the free world', I guess one does not need to
bother finding out the reality of the fragility of the Middle East. One can just
keep pounding war drums, and invading more countries, and supporting Israel's
invasion of more countries, and forget about the ones you've already invaded.....
and meanwhile innocent people keep dropping, left and right. 50 more people were
killed in Iraq today, in a market. But I guess they don't matter....they are, after
all, just Iraqis.
Bush, in his faux-pas today with Blair, also said, "What about Kofi Annan[head of
the United Nations]? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically
ceasefire and everything else happens." Bush, of course, is NOT in favor of a
ceasefire. it doesn't matter that those killed are, all but one, civilians.....it
doesn't matter that more and more dead babies are going to pile up under the bombs
-- if Israel doesn't want to back down, well then by golly, the US will stand with
Israel, and, in another notable Bush quote, "Bring it on".
Although in this case Israel's arrogance and stubbornness in continuing to blow up
innocents for the sake of two captured soldiers, threatens to bring the whole Middle
East into conflict. It didn't matter for Bush in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, where
warlords run the streets, and dozens are being killed every day.....it doesn't
matter to Bush that his path of destruction may lead the world into nuclear
war.....with the instability in afghanistan caused by the massive US destruction of
the country, most of the country is back in the hands of the taliban, or
taliban-supporting local warlords. and, in case you didn't notice, that war has
spilled over into pakistan....and even into india, where a train explosion killed
several hundred last week. pakistan and india are, you may recall, nuclear powers.
as is israel (though israel refuses to admit it, the international atomic energy
agency has estimated their cache to be about 30 nuclear warheads). as is, if you
believe kim jong-il, north korea. So Bush's 'Bring it on!' attitude, combined with
Israel's trigger-happy expansion onto its neighbors' land, may well bring this whole
region, and beyond, to the precipice of the most dangerous thing on this earth:
but then, Bush doesn't care about that. He's got a bunker inside a mountain in West
Virginia for him and his cronies that can supposedly withstand a nuclear blast. As
for the rest of us....well, I guess we're supposed to be the ones that Bush means to
Bring It On to.....because whatever it is that Bush and his buddies bring on....you
can bet the consequences are gonna fall on us, the people.
and particularly, the kids.
nearly 100 israeli kids and 900 palestinian kids have been killed in the last five
years. and now on the arabic tv i am watching 11 charred bodies of children being
brought to a makeshift morgue in lebanon.....23 killed today in a bus that was
trying to head north, away from the bombs.....
and all this...the latest blow-up, started because palestinian fighters grabbed a
soldier as a prisoner-of-war in what would, in any other place on earth, be
considered a legitimate military operation in a battlefield. but here it is
considered by israel to be a justification for a massive invasion, in which 74
people have been killed in gaza, and now more than 100 in lebanon.....and the
israeli military operation just expands and expands
is there a way out of this?
with idiots like bush putting fingers on triggers, I'm afraid the whole thing will
just get worse and worse.
in the end, the solution here is the same as in any other case: the initial
injustice (in this case, the seizure of palestinian land in 1948 and the massacres
and displacement of the residents) must be addressed for there to be justice, and
with justice, the ability to truly forgive.
i envision a 'truth and reconciliation' commission like the one in south africa,
with israelis having to watch hour after hour, day after day of testimony of the
injustices, the outright barbarities, that have been conducted in their name, and
with their implicit consent. for most israelis, despite having served their term in
the israeli military, are truly not aware of the massive injustices being carried
out on a daily basis against the palestinian people in the name of 'israeli
Here's what the blogger anomalous says:
"Today, and for the last three weeks, Israel has been bombing the Gaza Strip from
air, land, and sea, supposedly as a "response" to the capture of a single israeli
occupation soldier. Supposedly as a security "response", Israel has destroyed the
only electricty source for over 800,000 people; no replacement is possible for at
least a year, dooming unknown thousands - particulalry the most vulnerable - to
death from disease and nonfunctional medical equipment. As a "security response"
Israel has murdered over 60 people in the last ten days, inlcuding women and
children and entire families. As a "security response," this morning a quarter-ton
bomb was dropped on a home in Gaza City, killing an entire family of nine - mother,
father, and all seven children - injuring dozens and damaging dozens of adjacent
residences. As a "security response", this morning, Israeli fighter jets launched a
missile into a playground; 3 children were killed playing soccer. As a "security
response," about half of the democratically elected government has been abducted and
"Israel says all of this collective torture, all of which is absolutely illegal
[under international law], is a necessary response to the capture of one of its
"If that is true, then let's be fair. Palestinians are holding ONE captured Israeli,
and Israel has killed over 60 people in response. So let's be even-handed. In all
fairness, since Israel is holding over NINE THOUSAND captured Palestinians - most of
them, unlike our single israeli, civilians, and many of them children as young as
twelve - then how many
Israeli civilians can Palestinians legitimately murder in response? Let's see: if 1
captured Israeli justifies 60 murdered Palestinians, then by an unbiased, fair
judgement we have to say that Palestinians are free to randomly kill 540,000
Israelis. (9,000 x 60). But let's err on the side of caution - let's say that Jewish
lives are worth ten times that of Arab lives, a concept most racist israelis seem to
earnestly believe, so in fact Palestinians can only legitimately murder 54,000
Israelis. Sound fair to you?
"This is the logic of terror. Israel has murdered over 4000 people, the vast
majority of them civilians, by this logic. Israel has justified the murder of over
900 children by this logic, and the shooting of over 10,000 other children."
......is this really the logic that we want in our world?
how about the logic of justice, instead? is that possible?
well folks, it's up to me and you. the first step, i'd say, is to get rid of bush.
he's corrupt to the bone - i'm sure that some smart lawyer can look through his
massive list of crimes and find at least one impeachable offense. but his cabinet
is just as bad as bush is.....the congress not much better. only a few shining
examples of civic responsibility come to mind as possible replacements - cynthia
mckinney (D-GA) could perhaps be up to the job. what do you think -- impeach bush,
and replace him with mckinney? then we'll at least be able to begin trying to talk
about peace in the middle east.
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