A Lifetime of Disillusion
Sat 9th Nov 2013
I recently turned sixty five. This is the same age as the State of Israel. From our side of the fence (or should I say 'of the Separation Wall'), it the same date as the birthday of our dispossession as a Palestinian people.
We have spent sixty five years quagmired in endless disillusionment and missed opportunities. I can not help but wonder what would have happened if we had accepted the United Nations division of Palestine and made the best of a half country then, rather than work so hard on where we are now, with no country.
All through the sixty five years there were opportunities for peace. We, prompted by unconscionable Arab States with their own selfish agenda and by extreme Zionists with their insatiable greed, continued to reject the peace option. Indeed, we are still doing that - witness Hamas's decision to introduce a new history curriculum that is as viciously anti-Israeli as Israel's school curriculum is equally viciously anti-Palestinian.
Now, sixty five years later and we are desperately hoping to settle for barely 22% of historical Palestine. In the last sixty five years in terms of human suffering, our joint trauma with Israel has left us with a horrible future as anyone with eyes could see. Purely financially, the money spent on killing each other would have allowed either side to purchase the whole of Palestine several times over on the real estate market!
What do we have now then? On the Israeli side, we have a Government that is not likely to give back an inch of Palestine back to the Palestinians. On the Arab side we have countries internally fractured, badly governed and too busy with mutual recriminations and, indeed in many cases, murder and oppression, to be in any position to help us. We also have a staggeringly hypocritical United States in the form of Mr. Kerry indulging in his sickening one sided pontification on a peace settlement that America does absolutely nothing to pressure Israel into taking seriously. We have a cowardly American President who is superb at making promising speeches to and about Palestinians, then slipping back into a discredited and ineffective White House. We have Prime Minister Netanyahu lecturing that ghastly Foreign Affairs Secretary Kerry about Palestinians obstructing peace.
How can Palestinians obstruct a peace settlement? With what? We have no army. We have no money. We have virtually no infrastructure. We have no organisation. We barely have the wherewithal to conduct the ordinary business of day to day essential survival under abominable occupation or, probably worse still, in refugee camps scattered in inhuman neighbouring states. Yet, we are so powerful and so terrifying that we can obstruct peace talks with one the mightiest occupation forces on earth with several nuclear warheads in its back pockets!
These latest peace talks are not a level playing field. Israel has all the advantages and we, the defeated, crushed, oppressed and dispossessed Palestinians have little but the option to surrender accepting whatever Israel and its poodle, the United States, throw at us.
Am I the only one who feels his stomach turn with nausea when Mr. Kerry lectures Egyptians on restraint and democratic values the day before a democratically elected President is placed on trial on trumped up charges? Am I the only one who is sickened by the anger of the Western World at Saudi Arabia acquiring Nuclear Weapons when Israel has been a Nuclear Power for decades without as much as a peep from the rest of the world? Am I the only one who is utterly sickened by President Obama swinging gently on the balls of his feet as he adopts his best teacher lecturing voice and tells us all how to behave when his own country presents a panorama of staggering double standards? Am I the only one who is absolutely terrified of the way that the Western World feeds the tools of terror through its virulent Islamophobia? Am I the only one who is sickened by the mismatch between what Christ decreed and what American Evangelical Christians spout out full of trenchant hatred of all and sundry - but especially Muslims?
So, do I, as a Palestinian, believe that the situation is hopeless?
Unequivocally not! Never! There is still hope.
That hope resides in those of us who refuse to give up on talking to each other. The hope resides in those hearts on both the Palestinian and Israeli side who believe that coexistence is possible and that peace and cooperation would bring mutual benefits to us all. The hope is in putting the past behind us, telling others to butt out of our lives and leave us be to sort out our differences.
The hope is in the fact that I, sickened as I am by Obama, Kerry, Netanyahu, Abbas, the Arab Governments and all their kind, still believe in the best option for all of us: peace.
And peace now.