An Arab Life Is Much Less Worthy than Ours - Or Maybe It Is Not Worthy at All
by Edu Montesanti, on Nolan Chart (US), August, 2011
A new but yet so dear Palestinian friend: everyday nice words of happiness, experiences of personal life, our countries, music, travels, nature, love for animals, human rights, wishes of peace. What a so kind person! August 18 comes. Suddenly, everything has changed... She is now totally different. A Brazilian of Italian origin living in Latin America, does not understand at all what is going on, completely astonished.
Bombs, much fire, ambulances, ripped bodies; while sending informations and so shocking images and videos, unspeakable horror against innocent civilians: - I am praying in my mind here. Later will pray a lot... It is difficult, but let us trust God this moment, Enas. I am sure that things will change. - We do trust God all the time... My people are always strong with their faith... They face an aggressive enemy without any weapon... They only have faith (...).Right now another airstrike is being launched on GAZA!! HUGE explosions are being heard in different parts of GAZA now (...).
The fire storm started with an Israeli bus attacked near Eliat on that same August 18, the most serious on Israel from Egyptian territory in decades, killing eight Israelis and wounding 30 others. Hamas has not claimed such an attack, nor the attackers were identified though Israeli military have told they were Gazans, particularly The Popular Resistance Committees which has worked with Hamas. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, immediately after those attacks, blamed Gaza never mentioning Egypt.
Politically, the attack would be much more likely to have been carried out by Egyptians for the Sinai, even because the country faces a strong revolution. As for Gaza,Hamas (a party which we never approved for certain aggressive methods, for example stimulating suicide bombers) has now reconciliated Fatah claiming for peace, and practical solutions for the Palestine cause. The most important on this scenario: the opportunity of the Palestine statehood recognizing by the United Nations (UN), in September.
But the definite point is:there is no evidence for whom attacked Israelis last 18, and as every nation Israel is, at least generally speaking, under the law, too, so must act accordingly. But on the contrary of this elementary principle, Israel as always feels and acts above any law supported by the whole world led by the US, the same US historically opposing proposals for the creation of an International Criminal Court.
The result of Israel response has been more than 30 civilians killed in Gaza so far, in a cruel way as one can read and see here by Enas Naffar, and at least 50 injured in attacks where there is a complete disparity between the forces. Such a disproportion and the death of innocents would be a war crime itself, if it was really a war, but is not: Who did declare war to invade and bomb a land, as determines the law? No one. Did the UN authorize this bombardment? No, it did not at all. Moreover, freedom of press in Palestine has been seriously violated by Israel, something condemned by the UN itself.
So, what does Israel have that others do not? Well, what Palestinians does not have that we Westerners do? Let us do abrief flash back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as observe our contemporary history in the region so it will be easier to face the truth, and change the state of mind - for those who really want to.
It is worth to appeal to history, especially because many of us suffer from a chronic memory loss when some topics are involved (read at the end of this article: Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem Does Not Belong to Jewish-Israelis, by historian Juan Cole, University of Michigan).
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict retrace the two World Wars in the 20th century, configuring one of the worst Cold War (1945-1989) heritage: In 1947, the United States and Soviet Union, through the UN decided to split the ancient Palestinian territory into two, without consulting Palestinians and according to the interests of the only two world superpowers, as they did at the time in several parts of the globe, such as Germany, Vietnam and Korea, generating mortal rivalry inside these territories (before one nation, the same ethnic group).
Four Arab countries, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraqsent troops to help Palestine, trying to hinder the creation of the Zionist State, but the Jews, supported by the US, won the conflict. So, the State of Israel was created on May 14, 1948. Through the years Israel would flourish economically, getting strong foreign help.
Before the Cold War - a sad consequence of the catastrophic World War II (1939-1945) perpetrated by the great powers, the worst event in history leaving millions of dead and seriously wounded during and after it (in the bloody years of the Cold War, as bloody as the World War II itself) -, in 1920 the Great Britain, at the time the greater world power and principal winner of the World War I (1914-1918), had occupied Palestine supported by the League of Nations betraying the Arabs in the region, as in 1917 the British Prime-Minister Arthur Balfour had promised a homeland for Jews in the region also defending the right of Palestinians on the land, through a "large and independent State".
So, three years later the Palestinians felt betrayed by the world superpower, as well as threatened by the Zionists. From 1933, the Nazist persecution intensifies the clandestine migration of Jews into Palestine: in 1936 took place the first civil war between Arabs and Jews, which extended until 1938. The promised Palestinian State has never been created, and up to now the Jews control over 75% of the region.
The Cold War completely frustrated the plans on creating an international criminal law: it would condemn both sides, American and Soviet, and stopped their expansion all over the world. So, unthinkable crimes against humanity was created in those years.In the particular case of Palestinians, few people in the world have been suffering as much as them, especially when thetopic is massacre.
On the first Sunday after 9/11 attacks, in Brazil I put on my US T-shirt, pulled outthe US flag from the wall of my bedroom, fit it in a broom stick and went to the streets of Sao Paulo city to protest against terrorists and sympathize with the victims, especially Americans repeating the whole world at the time, "We are all Americans", after crying a lot when I had read Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, all the Brazilian magazines and newspapers, watched the Brazilian TVs and listened to radios, which reported 24 hours per day those terrorist attacks, and repeated scenes of so many crying in the US.
Today, exactly ten years after my pain and solidarity are the same - it could not be different, so that for a long time there is a linked announcement about 9/11 families on our Blog. But many points about the world reality, much practicalfor our daily life, have been unavoidable and seriously reconsidered since then, especially about how the world handles with ethnic differences, and the importance our politicians, the media and each of usattach tothem.
Simple and brief: on 9/11, 2,764 died. This very sad fact "has been" a daily part of the world media, political agenda and our minds and lives in the West. All thiscosted the unilateral invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan by George Bush, being all the world underits sheriff's sentence, "You're either with us, or against us". Such a Big Stick policy, based on an unconstitutional and against any international law preemptive war, have murdered 110,000 civilians up to now in Iraq, and though there is no an exact number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since 2001, it is sure that per year it is very close to the 9/11 deaths's (in some years, it has been even larger).
The 2,764 9/11 victims, led President Barack Obama to unilaterally invade Pakistan last May, without any localprevious permission, soseriously hurting the international law on sovereignty, murdering Osama bin Laden without any judgement nor presenting to the world any prove of this (criminal) killing, again hurting the law simply "burying" Osama bin Laden's body at sea as the US only decided, taking from his family the right on the bodyfor a funeral. All this for 9/11, not to mention all the contradictions that involved the attacks in the US, from CIA failures before them to the subsequentand shameful Bush's lies on Iraq.
Since 9/11, more than ever Arabs have been scorned by the West - media, Hollywood, people: in practice, in our mind they are fanatic and a potentially danger as terrorists at airports, stores, restaurants and so on. It is a consequence of aso-called international commotion for 9/11, or in so many cases a hysteria that has taken on us for the worst attack on American ground in history.
Enas Naffar has two pages on our Blog, one in English-Arabic, another in Portuguese called Eye on the Middle East. Gaza and the West Bank have been massacred again last days, and she shows us through comments, photos and videos what happens to her people today. There are some of the worst images I have seen in all my life, including some of a 2-year-old boy killed by Israel bombing on his birthday.
As in Iraqi and Afghan cases, Palestinians do not have space on the media,but when it reports civilian casualties in the Middle East it is done much more as just handling with numbers, as we barely feel really touched by them. As in the genocide in Gaza in December, 2008 / January, 2009 - which was the only massacre all over the world in which the attacked people could not cross the border, closed by Israel who blocked medical supplies and food leaving Palestinian families eating grass to survive, killing 1,400 Palestinians (the vast majority civilians), left approximately 2,000 seriously injured while 13 Jews were killed (10 soldiers, 3 civilians), but anyone remember any of this -, in August 2011 there is no space for Palestinians on the media the same way it was two years ago and always has been, nor in debates about human rights anywhere, even less for sympathy and necessary indignation, and action.
The Cold War ended long ago, but even today the only world superpower continuous being the major opponent for the International Criminal Court as Israel, the main US ally in the Middle East, region for which America has an obsession, follows acting above any law. For such a disrespect for human rights in the Middle East is exactly the main reason for continuous and growing conflictsin the region, and the anti-American sentiment there as all over the world.
Recently, WikiLeaks released the CIA Red Cell special memorandum on ”What If Foreigners See the United States as an 'Exporter of Terrorism'”, which says, among many other things: "This CIA 'Red Cell' report from February 2, 2010, looks at what will happen if it is internationally understood that the United States is an exporter of terrorism; 'Contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon, nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin. This dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens.' The report looks at a number cases of US exported terrorism, including attacks by US based or financed Jewish, Muslim and Irish-nationalism terrorists. It concludes that foreign perceptions of the US as an ”Exporter of Terrorism” together with US double standards in international law, may lead to noncooperation in renditions (including the arrest of CIA officers) and the decision to not share terrorism related intelligence with the United States.
"Much attention has been paid recently to the increasing occurrence of American-grown Islamic terrorists conducting attacks against US targets, primarily in the homeland. Less attention has been paid to home grown terrorism, not exclusively Muslim terrorists, exported overseas to target non-US persons. This report examines the implications of what it would mean for the US to be seen increasingly as an incubator and “exporter of terrorism.”
In August 2009, months after the Israel genocide in Gaza, the website Midia sem Máscara (Media Without a Mask) in Brazil, an ultraconservative and totally tendentious journalism, published a false report with photos montage accusing Palestinians in the age of 25-30 marrying children between 12 and 15 years old. While believing the report, readers called Palestinians all sort of names, everything deliberately published by the site. But when it was revealed the truth behind that, anyone apologize as our opinion then was not published, which became an Open Letter from us.The fall of the Berlim Wall marked the end of the Cold War 21 years ago, but not the fall of a propagandist media according to the interests of the same powers, as always.
We used to attend Calvary International Church in Sao Paulo (American), Brazil, where we witnessed a joke against Arabs, kind of putting all of them as potentially terrorists full of laughter (one leader involved). Some months later, we sent by mail one of our articles criticizing much more than just the "War on Terror", but its victims including children, for which we were immediately reprimanded by one leader. At the same time, another criticism against our opinions from another leader, with the following words justifying the severe human losses in the Arab world: "People there do not have Jesus!".
Sorry if it hurts some readers, but it is the sad reality of many among us - it becomes even sadder because we accuse other peoples, several times being unjust, without looking ourselves at the mirror, as the mortal fanatism and hatred of many in the West is maybe just a little bit more disguised (we wrote an Open Letter to Calvary Church, too). If we would wrote about proved cases of psychological terror practiced by many here in the West, be it at work, at church, at home etc, it would be necessary another so large article only focused on this topic (we have a job discussing it, based on real facts on our Blog). There is a saying that says: "Every people gets the government it deserves". As we have seen through history and current events, our governments are intolerant, against human rights.
Our last contacts with Enas Naffar makes us remember Malala Joya's words: "We Afghans face a 9/11 every day" (read an interview granted by Joya to a Brazilllian website, totally distrorted as she sent us the original one, published here on the 'Chart).Enas and Joya have in common not only the situation of their lands, butthey are also showing us what happens to their people, what the world media does not show, unfortunately.
Let us stop caring only about our sporadic 9/11s, let us urgently change our state of mind if we really want a peaceful world - anyone can see it clearly: if it depends on politicians and their watchdogs of the press, we will never witness such a world. Today, we are all Palestinians.
Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday that “Jerusalem is not a settlement.”He continued that the historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel cannot be denied. He added that neither could the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. He insisted, “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.” He said, “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.” He told his applauding audience of 7500 that he was simply following the policies of all Israeli governments since the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.
Netanyahu mixed together Romantic-nationalist cliches with a series of historically false assertions. But even more important was everything he left out of the history, and his citation of his warped and inaccurate history instead of considering laws, rights or common human decency toward others not of his ethnic group.
So here are the reasons that Netanyahu is profoundly wrong, and East Jerusalem does not belong to him.
1. In international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory, as are the parts of the West Bank that Israel unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907 forbid occupying powers to alter the lifeways of civilians who are occupied, and forbid the settling of people from the occupiers' country in the occupied territory. Israel's expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, its usurpation of Palestinian property there, and its settling of Israelis on Palestinian land are all gross violations of international law. Israeli claims that they are not occupying Palestinians because the Palestinians have no state are cruel and tautological. Israeli claims that they are building on empty territory are laughable. My back yard is empty, but that does not give Netanyahu the right to put up an apartment complex on it.
2. Israeli governments have not in fact been united or consistent about what to do with East Jerusalem and the West Bank, contrary to what Netanyahu says. The Galili Plan for settlements in the West Bank was adopted only in 1973. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave undertakings as part of the Oslo Peace Process to withdraw from Palestinian territory and grant Palestinians a state, promises for which he was assassinated by the Israeli far right (elements of which are now supporting Netanyahu's government). As late as 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak claims that he gave oral assurances that Palestinians could have almost all of the West Bank and could have some arrangement by which East Jerusalem could be its capital. Netanyahu tried to give the impression that far rightwing Likud policy on East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been shared by all previous Israeli governments, but this is simply not true.
3. Romantic nationalism imagines a “people” as eternal and as having an eternal connection with a specific piece of land. This way of thinking is fantastic and mythological. Peoples are formed and change and sometimes cease to be, though they might have descendants who abandoned that religion or ethnicity or language. Human beings have moved all around and are not directly tied to any territory in an exclusive way, since many groups have lived on most pieces of land. Jerusalem was not founded by Jews, i.e. adherents of the Jewish religion. It was founded between 3000 BCE and 2600 BCE by a West Semitic people or possibly the Canaanites, the common ancestors of Palestinians, Lebanese, many Syrians and Jordanians, and many Jews. But when it was founded Jews did not exist.
4. Jerusalem was founded in honor of the ancient god Shalem. It does not mean City of Peace but rather 'built-up place of Shalem.”
5. The “Jewish people” were not building Jerusalem 3000 years ago, i.e. 1000 BCE. First of all, it is not clear when exactly Judaism as a religion centered on the worship of the one God took firm form. It appears to have been a late development since no evidence of worship of anything but ordinary Canaanite deities has been found in archeological sites through 1000 BCE. There was no invasion of geographical Palestine from Egypt by former slaves in the 1200s BCE. The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor. The chronicle of the events of the reign of Ramses II on the wall in Luxor does not know about any major slave revolts or flights by same into the Sinai peninsula. Egyptian sources never heard of Moses or the 10 plagues & etc. Jews and Judaism emerged from a certain social class of Canaanites over a period of centuries inside Palestine. (See Daniel Lazare's Harper's article on the archeological disproof of the Bible, preserved at this website (I am not endorsing the web site).
6. Jerusalem not only was not being built by the likely then non-existent “Jewish people” in 1000 BCE, but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history. Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon. So Jerusalem was not 'the city of David,' since there was no city when he is said to have lived. No sign of magnificent palaces or great states has been found in the archeology of this period, and the Assyrian tablets, which recorded even minor events throughout the Middle East, such as the actions of Arab queens, don't know about any great kingdom of David and Solomon in geographical Palestine.
7. Since archeology does not show the existence of a Jewish kingdom or kingdoms in the so-called First Temple Period, it is not clear when exactly the Jewish people would have ruled Jerusalem except for the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Assyrians conquered Jerusalem in 722.
The Babylonians took it in 597 and ruled it until they were themselves conquered in 539 BCE by the Achaemenids of ancient Iran, who ruled Jerusalem until Alexander the Great took the Levant in the 330s BCE. Alexander's descendants, the Ptolemies ruled Jerusalem until 198 when Alexander's other descendants, the Seleucids, took the city. With the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE, the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom did rule Jerusalem until 37 BCE, though Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean, only took over Jerusalem with the help of the Parthian dynasty in 40 BCE. Herod ruled 37 BCE until the Romans conquered what they called Palestine in 6 CE (CE= 'Common Era' or what Christians call AD). The Romans and then the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium ruled Jerusalem from 6 CE until 614 CE when the Iranian Sasanian Empire Conquered it, ruling until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back.
The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city. The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return, and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether for about 1192 years.
Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so, i.e., the kingdom of the Hasmoneans.
8. Therefore if historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:
A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.
B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.
C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.
D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.
E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.
F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.
G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin's dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.
9. Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the Temple, whenever that connection is dated to. But that link mostly was pursued when Jews were not in political control of the city, under Iranian, Greek and Roman rule. It cannot therefore be deployed to make a demand for political control of the whole city.
10. The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine did not for the most part leave after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE. They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine under Roman rule and then Byzantine. They gradually converted to Christianity. After 638 CE all but 10 percent gradually converted to Islam. The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries