In Arabic the word “Khalo” is the title children give to a mother’s brother, and “Umo” is the father’s brother. And so it was that one beautiful day in Beirut my husband and I took our three children (our fourth wasn’t yet born) to the Sporting Club. As the children ran around we joined a group of friends who were already there.
“Come here, Khalo” called out Kamal to my son, “come let me kiss you, you little rascal!”
“Why are you calling him Khalo,” asked May laughingly, “are you perchance related to his mother?”
“Of course I am,” Kamal answered. “Isn’t she Palestinian? Therefore she is my sister and that makes me her son’s Khalo!”
We all laughed at that, allowing Kamal to wax poetic on anything Palestinian. He was, after all, our writer, our poet, the thinker and a member of the PLO Executive Committee.
In April of 1973, Mossad agents went into the heart of Beirut, the capital of the sovereign state of Lebanon, and in a brutal criminal operation they murdered “Khalo” Kamal Nasser, Yussef al-Najjar and his wife and Kamal Adwan. Ehud Barak was one of the assassins – dressed in camouflage as a woman – that same Ehud Barak who would in later years become Israel’s Prime Minister.
This is just one of the horrific stories in my memory! There are many! There are many in every Palestinian’s memory.
Anyway, no Western nation called this “terrorism.” No Western nation called any of Israel’s targeted killings “terrorism.” In fact, they did not even cite the many terroristic acts of Israel as terrorism. Israel was above reproach whatever it did. However, we knew. We know all of Israel’s acts of terrorism and they are too many to be counted! Beginning with the assassination of the UN Peace Mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, on to the King David massacre, the Semiramis massacre, the massacre at Deir Yassin, massacre of Dawayma, massacre at Kibya . . . and . . . and . . . Israel’s culpability in the massacres at Sabra & Shatilla . . . and . . . the attack on the USS Liberty . . . the Kahane Hebron massacre . . . the murder of Alex Oudeh by Kahane supporters in California and . . . and . . . and . . . all the way throughout the years since 1948 and up to Gaza today!!! I know these acts of terrorism because I was – and am – old enough to have witnessed them. I was too young in 1948 when Deir Yassin and other terrorist events occurred. I know though how egregious they were because I heard them recounted by my grandparents, parents, relatives and elders who were witnesses. I knew how atrocious they were from seeing the tears on the women’s faces as they told and retold stories of the nakba, and saw the anger and despair on the faces of the men. We have not forgotten. We will not forget.
The fact that Israel can outlandishly lie and use all media tricks and linguistic smoke and mirrors to portray Palestinians as terrorists does not make them so. At all! And, yes, some of the Palestinian militants did resort to acts of violence and terrorism (which I am totally against) and there is no denying that. However, they are Nothing to compare to Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism! Nothing! Nothing at all!
That Israel is justified and excused is an unconscionable act of partiality on every leader and every country that has supported her terrorism throughout these years. Unconscionable!
One day, I was looking through the small file of clippings that I keep and came across this paragraph from a Washington Post article that was published on Monday, October 20, 2003:
Elite US Unit Killed Hundreds of Vietnamese Civilians. Soldiers of the Tiger Force unit of the 101st. Airborne Division dropped grenades into bunkers where villagers hid. They severed ears from the dead and strung them on shoelaces to wear around their necks . . . William Doyle, a former Tiger Force sergeant, said he killed so many civilians in 1967 that he lost count. He said: “The way to live is to kill because you don’t have to worry about anybody who’s dead.” No one knows what set that band of 45 volunteers to initiate killing of civilians against US military law and the 1949 Geneva Convention. These atrocities came just months before the killing of 500 Vietnamese civilians by an Army unit in 1968 in My Lai . . .
I remember My Lai. I remember how horrified we were in Beirut to read about that crime. I remember how much we identified with the sorrows of the Vietnamese people.
I am mentioning this article and these atrocities committed by US soldiers because they weren’t the first or last. American soldiers committed crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq also. Abu Ghraib anyone, just as an example? Our government refuses to allow any of our military to be indicted in any international arena no matter what crimes they may commit. However, our government will capture and kill anyone whom it decides is a terrorist or a threat to the United States and will disregard the UN Charter and the International Criminal Court’s verdicts if it does not agree to them. Are these arbitrary rules and values? Are they the same as the fake mantra of Freedom and Democracy that we have exported, and every failed foreign adventure that we have authorized? You can say that again! The same applies to Israel. And that’s why the Israeli government wags its finger at the richest and most powerful nation on earth saying: we aren’t doing anything that you haven’t done!! Don’t you dare dissent or protest!
Should we, therefore, throw out the Geneva Convention rules of engagement? Shutter up the United Nations? Perhaps we should!
What the objectives of Israel seem to be is for the Palestinian people to give up, give in and succumb to being imprisoned until . . . forever?
Maybe it imagines that it can treat us the way that the United States behaved with its proud indigenous people? By placing us in “Reservations” (a euphemism for concentration camps) and impeding our movements, abrogating our rights and erasing our heritage? Is that why the United States was silent throughout these years about the massive jail that is called Gaza? Are there any similarities between the US and Israel in their treatment of the “natives?”
But wait . . . after all these generations of subjugation it seems that the younger generations of Native Americans are slowly awakening and reclaiming their culture, their history, their heritage and demanding Justice. There’s even a map circulating that shows everywhere in the United States that Native Americans once lived in, and it was Everywhere on this land before they were massacred, decimated and finally placed in “Reservations!” People don’t forget! Not ever! The Jewish people have not forgotten the Holocaust, after all, nor will they ever let the world forget. Rightfully so! And, Palestinians will not forget Deir Yassin . . . and . . . and . . all the massacres, targeted assassinations, expropriations, bulldozing, imprisonment, abasement, humiliation, degradation and . . . all the way up to the savagery of Gaza! Not ever! No matter what happens today, or tomorrow, or the day after! This is not vindictiveness. It is simply a demand for Justice!
That Native Americans will never get their land back is a fact, of course. And Palestinians will not get all their land back either. But we refuse to be placed in “Reservations.” These are different times. This is not frontier land America of years ago.
Logically one would say: Let’s get on with it then! Let’s negotiate reasonably! Why prolong the agony? But Logic and Justice are AWOL!
Israeli Peace will only happen when the Palestinian people give up, give in, succumb!
Unrealistic! Unacceptable! Unjust! Undoable! Evil!