After the whole village of al-Araqeeb was razed to the ground and erased out of existence, the Israeli government also bulldozed the village cemetery in order to cancel out the memory and history of this Palestinian village in the same way it destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages in the past. A few days later, occupation forces removed 150 tombs from the Ma’man Allh cemetery, the oldest and largest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. Before the creation of Israel, this cemetery contained the remains of a number of prominent Muslim leaders, scholars and martyrs. It was over two hundred dunums in the past; now only twenty remain as a result of Israeli aggressive practices.
At the same time, Israeli settlers scorched hundreds of dunums of Palestinian agricultural land in the West Bank. They also continue to demolish houses and displace the native population, particularly after Israel passed a law confiscating the land of ‘absent’ Palestinians who were actually expelled from their land and are still deprived of their right to return. Now Israel takes their land because they are absent! The dark irony is that after racist Israeli governments have been stealing Palestinians’ land and expelling them for the past sixty years, they ask Arab countries to return the property of Arab Jews who immigrated to Israel under the pressure of Israel and its allies.
These shameful attacks against the remains of the dead after Israel despaired of breaking the will of the living shows that the Israelis are morally bankrupt and are afraid of the souls of those who died centuries ago and that history will catch up with them. This is in sharp contrast to the way Arabs and Muslims have treated Jewish cemeteries and places of worship. Despite all the wars and hostility between the Arabs and Israel, not a single tomb or synagogue was removed or destroyed. The fact is that Israelis fears Arab rights and everybody and everything that reminds them of these rights. One symptom of this fear is Israeli President, Shimon Peres’ accusation to the British people of anti-Semitism ignoring the fact that the British government actually made a present of Palestine to the Zionist gangs through the Belfour declaration.
Despite Israel’s boasts of its capabilities and despite the billions of dollars it is receiving from the American government, the events of the last four years, particularly the crimes it has committed, have started to take their toll on Israeli self confidence. There is a growing global realization of the threat Israeli policies pose to world peace and stability. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine movement has crossed the Atlantic for the first time: a food company in Washington decided to boycott Israeli products. BDS was established in 2005 and has created worldwide awareness that Israel should be boycotted, there should be an end to Israeli occupation of all Arab land and to racial discrimination against the Palestinian population and acknowledging their right to return to their land as sanctioned by UNSC resolution 194.
Even in Israel, a boycott movement started in 2009, which confirms, as Omar Barghouti writes, that the Palestinian “South Africa moment” has arrived (The Guardian, 12 August, 2010). Ahmad Moor wrote in the Huffington Post (9 August, 2010) that Israel cannot be Jewish and democratic at the same time. He also writes about the flagrant racial discrimination against the native population. Christopher Gunness accused Israel of making a ‘stack of lies’ about UNRWA and its work with Palestinian refugees.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Middle East has changed by virtue of the struggle for justice and the steadfastness of the resistance in the region and the strategic shift taking place. Of particular importance is the emergence of Turkey and its defense of justice. It should be remembered that British Prime Minister, David Cameron used Ardogan’s terms for describing Gaza as ‘the biggest prison in the world’.
The American administration no longer divides the region into friends and enemies, radicals and moderates. But despite its support of the Israeli extremists, the argument on the ground is now between accomplices working on an American decision to support Israeli colonialism and those who adopt resistance and work hard to draw the region’s future in line with the freedom and interests of its peoples far away from sectarian and ethnic strife promoted by foreign powers.
If those behind the ocean have not realized the significance of this shift, Israel has; and that is why it is filled with terror, not only of the will of the living, but also of the tombs of the dead. If some in the west are still thinking of a peace process in order to isolate Hamas or Iran or create division between the resisting parties in the region, they are wasting their time in favor of the party which is drawing the future in line with the feelings and interests of the peoples of the region.
The poll conducted recently by Shibli Talhami of Maryland University shows the new reality in the Middle East and should be examined carefully by those behind the ocean who failed to understand the aspirations, the power and the will of the peoples of this region. The poll showed that Raceb Tayeb Ardogan was the most popular leader with 20%, followed by Hugo Chavez with 13%, then Mahmoud Ahmedinejad with 12%. The bad news for the White House was that 77% of those polled believe that Iran has the right to acquire nuclear energy and 57% think a nuclear Iran will be better for the Middle East. This shows the great gap between the thinking of the US administration and the thinking of the peoples of the region.
When a concerned Europe put pressure on the United States to stop the war on Lebanon in 2006, Condoleezza Rice said: “We have no interest in returning the region to the way it was before”. Of course the region did not return to the way it was before. It took a new and important direction to protect the freedom and dignity of its peoples. It remains for the White House to realize this fact which explains their fear of our cemeteries. We, also, should live up to this new horizon whose first light is dawning on the whole world and which confirms that the future of Palestine will be nothing short of the future of South Africa which won the war against racism and apartheid.