. Solitary Confinement | London Progressive Journal
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Solitary Confinement

Tue 4th Feb 2020

Tennessee Williams wrote: ‘We’re all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.’


Indeed we are.


And I have never felt so alone as I have done in recent times.


I have been sleeping fitfully. Whenever I fall asleep, I have a recurring dream of me sitting on a Palestinian beach. It is sunny. The heat is searing - occasionally it is cooled down by a gentle breeze blowing in from the Mediterranean. I am alone. I can see little white houses at a distance with green trees waving gently beyond them. I am alone and at peace.


I wake up in a damp cold sweat. I can hear Prime Minister Netanyahu talking of a forthcoming event during which he would be making history with President Trump.


A lifetime of diaspora reverberates uselessly as Israel prepares to purloin the last few spaces of historic Palestine.


I can hear the customary deafening silence from our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters as our national existence is brought to a slow end.


I can taste, with mounting nausea, the gelatinous hypocrisy of the world as it looks away from the suffering of the Palestinian people.


I read Pastor Martin Niemoller’s evocative piece at our recent local Holocaust Memorial event. All through the reading, I kept thinking of the individual Jew murdered for no other reason than for being a Jew. I also kept thinking of the reiterated ‘Never Again’ principal and, whilst agreeing with it, feeling how one sided the dictum has become.


We remember many genocides - but not the Palestinians.


We defend the rights of every nation - except Palestine.


We argue for the human rights of all - apart from Palestinians.


We commemorate every historic occasion - though never the loss of my homeland Palestine.


If you wish to support Israel - feel free to do so as you are entitled to support whoever you wish in our free democracy.


If you want to salve the conscience of you ancestors’ inhuman treatment of the Jews by giving away my homeland to any Jew who wishes to live in it at my expense - why not. It is, after all, only human nature to do anything possible to clear its conscience.


If you wish to join Churchill, Cameron, Johnson and so many other opportunistic politicians by declaring that you have been a lifelong Zionist - by all means exercise your right to declare any lifelong principle that you wish to uphold.


All I ask is that you give a little thought to any arbitrarily selected individual Palestinian living in a refugee camp. Living in exile. Living under oppressive Israeli military occupation. Standing back and watching her home being demolished to make way for Jews only neighbourhood. Languishing in an Israeli jail. Buried long before his time felled by an Israeli state of martial art bullet. Falling ill in Gaza and dying because a travel permit to a place of treatment was denied by Israel. Watching her father being beaten... the list of options for selecting the individual Palestinian to be given a one brief second’s thought is endless. Our suffering continues apace as you look away. Just as your parents and grandparents looked away when they came for the Jews, the trade unionists, the Romas, the homosexuals, the handicapped and so many more.


As Netanyahu and Trump blow a fanfare announcing the Deal of the Century; give a thought - fleetingly and cursorily - to the Palestinian who has done you no harm.


And ask yourself a few questions.


Have you no empathy?


Have you no sympathy?


Have you no humanity?


Have you no decency?


Have you no compassion?


Have you no belief in the Golden Rule shared by so many faiths?


Why don’t you do to others what you wish them to do to you?


If we all did so, we would never do an injustice to each other. Steal from each other.

Lie to each other. Hurt each other.


I wish to treat others in precisely the way that I wish them to treat me. I would never take an inch of their homeland.


Why do you take mine?


Why do you remain silent except when, joining a choir, you sing with great passion ‘No More Silence’ and ask us all to join in?


Why do you light candles for the dead - except our dead?


Why do you condemn us to live in solitary confinement without reprieve?


I may be alone - but Palestine lives in me awaiting liberation through your selective humanity.

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