Today is just another day in Palestine: another death; another outrage; another horror for the world to read about. In Iowa, I’m told, only those who bother to flip beyond the front page Jesse Jackson paternity headline, rustle past the Personalities in the News tidbits and 10 pages of advertisements with, at best, one news column per page finally reaching the International News section will see that yet another Palestinian has been killed.
Few, I imagine will even see the report. Those who do will undoubtedly think, “Still going on like the ever marching battery bunny. Are the Palestinians still “sending their kids for death” or was this another Israeli assassination designed to hamper establishment of the state of Palestine?” If they think this or anything at all about the death of Hisham Miki, most readers will then go off to experience their day. The reported episode will mean no more than the annoying pink rabbit.
“The other night,” a friend in America wrote, “a group of us were discussing worldwide violence as we sat waiting for our dinner in a local restaurant. One woman looked up and said, “As long as there are Palestinians, there will be war.” All the other women at the table stopped short and were silent, but no one wanted to disrupt the social evening by challenging the remark. No one even had the courage to say, “As long as there is injustice, there will be war.”
Speaking to a service group, another friend trying to explain why Palestinians continue to stand up to aggression that has taken all but approximately 16 percent of their country from them, was constantly interrupted by queries such as “What’s an Arab?”, “Are Christians Arabs?”, “Are Palestinians a people?'” The talk was about Palestinian refugees, the largest group of displaced persons in the world today, statistically estimated at somewhere between 4 to 6 million people. Yet, in Mid-west America, some listeners couldn’t even imagine that there are Palestinians let alone the realities of their struggle.
Even Arabs and Muslims seemed to lie beyond definition, somewhere, I suppose, out there in movie land violence or in a cultural abyss. Today, eight hours ahead of my Iowa family, I sip my morning coffee and wonder if they will see the story about the newest killing in Palestine when they get up and start their day with their newspaper and a cup of coffee.
Will it matter if they do see the story?
I wonder how many Iowans will care who- killed-who or why? I wonder how many Americans know that their taxes financed this Israeli atrocities that forces us to fight the only way we can, terrorism, Westerners call it.
I wonder if the people I met at Chautauqua, New York, understand that the pressures of war and the wish for survival creates inhuman burdens that sometimes destroy moral faithfulness and our own allegiance to each other.
I wonder if they will recognize that our only weapon against oppression is to stand up to tanks and nighttime attacks against our villages and to die before the world’s eyes, hoping against hope that someone will see that we have arms and legs and faces and hands like any other humans.
I know there are people in America who care and who do not want their tax dollars to finance our misery, but will they have the courage to speak about our reality to an audience who cares no more about us than they do about a television commercial. In a sense, our plight is action against the commercialism of the commodity Zionism and Jewish denial of what the state of Israel has done to us.
On television, I watched as the second young man’s body was desiccated, dragged for hundreds of meters from the West Bank to Israel’s claimed territory. The acts and the films threaten me. I remember being in America and reading about a similar dragging of a Black southerner by white men laughing like the Israeli soldiers in pictures of the Hebron outrage.
The men in America were punished for their immoral act and the reasons behind that murder thoroughly denounced. Those who may have approved of this evil were driven by the rest of America to silence, relegated to the secret of their own immorality.
“Why do the Palestinians get so mad and march and burn tires and American flags,” tourists wonder? Can they not see why?
Are Americans so myopic that they cannot understand that the Palestinian whose home is burned or destroyed in the night, will not rise in the morning to announce his loss in the only way they can?
What is the American flag to the young man who has no home, little food, a curfew to prevent him from medical care, a job, an education, a life?
What is a tire to a laborer who wakes to discover that his car has been destroyed by a U.S. provided missile during the night?
I write because I want people to know how I feel and what I face to be alive and well and living in Palestine. I cannot live in this land and allow Israeli/Zionist propaganda to be the only voice in America.
The adventure of it dies with each horror It harms the Palestinian psyche as much as it harms its target. I live in fear. Will I be blamed? Will a missile fall on me? Will I be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Will those I love be injured or killed when I turn my back?
Today, we in Palestine, those in Israel just across the street and all of you in America are one community. We may pick olives, the Israelis may manufacture computer chips and Americans may do a bit of everything, but we are connected through technology.
When Europeans conquered America, there were no television cameras to record the injustice, no cell phones on which to “phone home” the details and no internet capable of sending everything from poems to movies everywhere in the world.
Even if Zionists defenders continue to produce films that show Arabs as terrorists with no moral compunctions, control press reports and harass individuals who dare speak against the behavior of Israel, they cannot hid the truth. Modern media will not let them.
If Americans are faithful to their moral traditions, peace, justice and the democracy that they want to export to the whole world, then, Americans cannot turn away refusing to be “their brother’s keeper,” even if that brother or sister is an Arab Palestinian like ourselves.
Letters will be written to state that people don’t want their money to go for oppressing the Palestinians or any other nation, outrage about tax dollars spent to perpetuate wrong will be spoken, covenants among people who want to live in a moral universe will be expressed and sanctions against companies such as Coca Cola or Burger King whose business practices support apartheid in Israel/Palestine will be initiated.
My hopes lie with those who know the meaning of justice and who have lived in a land where cooperation and peace make possible all the potential of our day.
I stretch my hand to those of you who care with the prayer that morality will unite us allowing injustice to fade as people of all faiths return to what is holy within themselves.
Then, the faded kingdoms of our past will be the parables they are meant to be and our world will not end by our own doing “in fire or in ice.”
(Samah Jabr is a freelance writer and medical student in Jerusalem. This article was written with the assistance of Elizabeth Mayfield.)