My World Is Upside Down
Thu 18th Apr 2013
What does the ordinary Arab man or woman in the street think about recent and current events? I couldn't pretend to be the ordinary man on the Dubai Omnibus but I have a fair idea of what he is like since the blood in my tired, but still defiant, veins is Palestinian Arab blood.
I was so happy that everyone was condemning Gaddafi for his violence against the heroes protesting his cruel rule. I was so pleased that Mubarak had gone and Egypt was sorting its democratic future out. It made me feel comfortable to see the Lebanese telling Hizbollah to tone down their excesses or clear off: A secular Lebanon first, religion second. It is good to hear the world telling North Korea to stop its ridiculous posturing. It feels safe to see the world wagging a finger at Iran's nuclear ambitions. I love it when Assad's tyranny is rightly condemned.
It makes one feel secure to hear America tell Israel to get rid of its 250 nuclear warheads, hand occupied Palestinians lands back to Palestinians and accord all Israeli Palestinians equal rights.
Did that last paragraph stand out a little bit? Didn't America say that to Israel? I must have dreamt it. Or maybe I just assumed it under that vague Western idea called "justice". Or maybe I am just reacting against a colleague recently telling me to stop going on about American double standards or they might think that I was "a Muslim". And we all know what a crime that is these days!
I was also excited when the protesters in Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen and Tunisia roared their disapproval. I was particularly optimistic when the Americans appeared to be supporting us seeking a free and democratic way of life. After all theirs was the land of the free.
Then, as I sat complacently on my Dubai Omnibus, news came in through my trusted ear phones designed to keep casual chatterers at bay, of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invading Bahrain. News came in of Israel resuming its settlement construction policies. More news came in of President Obama visiting Israel and assuring it of his unconditional support then making a sickening speech telling Israelis to put themselves in Palestinian shoes and so have some compassion. By all means colonise them, render them homeless, starve them but... be nice to them the way that we were to those funny Native Americans if you remember what they once were. We took their land away from them by endlessly quoting John Locke at them on the Right to Property and property and property which made America great!
America had already made a few polite noises about "exercising restraint" the way that it does whenever Israel goes on one of its killing sprees in Gaza or the West Bank. I wondered if the Libryan protesters were seen as "our protesters" by the Americans and by the unelected Gulf governments whilst the Bahraini ones were somehow "their protesters". A bit like the French Resistance were "our heroes" whereas Palestinian Resistance were "our terrorists".
I do not know what to feel anymore as I step off the Dubai Omnibus on my way home to the six o'clock news of those killed or injured in Palestine, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt and so many other places.
I had thought that freedom and democracy were universal values. Obviously not when it comes to Palestinians or to Gulf Shi'ites. What dark forces are at work here? I am confused and wonder why the West can not understand why our ordinary man or woman in the Arab street rages against its ugly double standards and selective moral values.
Aren't I lucky? I have lost my homeland in Palestine. I lost any chance of making peace as Israel grabs more land. I have lost my chance of extending a hand of friendship to Israelis after an Israeli friend suggested that Palestinian dispossession was not comparable to what the Jews suffered in Central Europe. I could hear King Lear pleading "Oh! Reason not the need" as we played the numbers game. I have lost my Palestinian dignity as my 'Government' in Ramallah does such a brilliant job of policing Israel's profitable occupation of our lands. I have been exiled with America's blessing. Even my Christian friend tells me that I lost Palestine because of the sins of my father and his father before him back to those nasty Muslims who conquered Palestine over a thousand years ago.
But still, aren't I lucky to live in a free country where I can write articles like this and get away with being a member of the lunatic fringe. So lucky to be invisible like all Palestinians.