Picture a group of people from various parts of the world, with absolutely nothing in common with each other than their religious beliefs (not a ‘nation’ by any stretch of the imagination), demanding that you give over your country to them. Picture a situation where, having been given 56% of your people’s land by the United Nations, this group of people immediately starts a war of expansion, winning a further 22% (leaving them with 78% and you with 22%). Then picture, 19 years later, this amorphous bunch of Europeans, Americans, Africans, Russians and every other ans you can think of capturing the last 22% in war, forcing the existing population to either leave or exist under occupation.
Now picture being one of 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip:
Picture being one of the ‘lucky ones’ that managed to avoid being forced out by the Israelis. Picture not being able to visit your family in the next village for weeks on end because you’re not allowed past the checkpoint. Picture not being able to get a job because you can’t travel outside a two mile radius. Picture trying to get to college on the day of your final exams only to find that some soldiers would put a bullet in your head before letting you get there. Imagine spending years in the prisons of the people that stole your country. Imagine friends and relatives (87% of them civilians by the way) getting killed by the people that stole your country. Imagine living in a society where over half of the population was under 17 years of age because so many people above that age had been killed by the Israelis. Imagine watching a parent, or a sibling, or a friend, have a heart attack at a checkpoint because the soldiers are throwing tear gas canisters and sound bombs.
Picture spending three years in jail because you threw a stone at the people who oppress you, who stop you from living. Picture 30 days of solitary confinement in a 1m x 1m cell. Picture being hung by ropes upside down just in time for your family to visit. Picture being 16 and having to endure intense physical and psychological torture.
Picture a curfew:
Imagine an occupying power telling you that you can’t move, you can’t leave your house, you can’t go to the shops, to the neighbour’s house, to your job, or do any of the things that one associates with normal life. Imagine having nothing to do but sit in your house and listen to the guns, shells, tanks, bombs, helicopter gunships, wondering how much death and destruction each sound reflects, urgently hoping that the next news report on Al-Jazeera will announce a lifting of the curfew. Imagine your local health clinic getting blown up because the occupying soldiers had deemed it a ‘gun factory’. Imagine the biggest high school in the area getting blown up for the same reasons, just 10 days before the start of the summer exams. Imagine being in the refugee camp that your family moved to after Israeli paramilitaries forced them from their village in 1948 and having Israeli soldiers knock down your door and arrest all the males between the ages of 15 and 45 in your house. Imagine being a medical relief worker trying to deliver urgently-needed supplies to local families and getting stopped, arrested, maybe even shot, by Israeli troops. Try to imagine getting through the next few days without water and electricity. Try to imagine taking care of kids in this situation, trying to explain to them why they can’t go and play football in the street with their friends, why they can’t go to school, why they can’t use any water, why their older brother or father or uncle or cousin has been taken away.
Picture the occupier:
Imagine how you might feel about fascistic tyrants like Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush, both guilty of helping to engender untold human suffering, lecturing the person your people elected President on the subject of democracy. Imagine your oppressor one minute complaining about the lack of effectiveness of your highly-limited self-government and the next minute destroying schools, hospitals, government buildings, shops, homes, roads, lives. Imagine your President’s building being subjected to hours of continuous shelling. Imagine your oppressor firing a rocket into your President’s bedroom, leaving your President lucky to be alive and sleeping on the floor in the corner of his office.
What you’re picturing is what the Palestinian people that have been able to stay in Palestine have to endure. Why are they having to endure this kind of life? How have the Israeli Jews arrived at this terrible status having endured so much under Nazism?
The ideology of Zionism was conceived simply as an idea for improving the lives of some very rich Jews, and remained as obscure as it objectively is until countries like Britain and the US started to see in the concept of Israel the possibility of a permanent agent in the Middle East, armed to the hilt, ever ready to defend oil profits and contain any ‘wild’ nationalist/socialist activities in the region (the nationalisation of the Suez Canal being a case in point). Like any ideology based on oppression, it has taken on a twisted logic all of its own. The fact is that the Zionist dream is not complete while Palestinians still exist. Israel is using every means at its disposal to drive the Palestinians from their land yet again, making the life of Palestinian people impossible, untenable, so that those who are not killed emigrate and Israel can have total control over the whole of historic Palestine – including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jericho etc.
Witness the spirit of resistance
But the thing about the Palestinians is their will to resist, to fight back, to insist upon living, and to control over their land. Every stone that is thrown at an Israeli soldier is more than just a stone; it embodies an incredible spirit, a passion, an unbreakable confidence in the legitimacy of their struggle. The determination people have to fight back even in the smallest of ways (the very act of staying in Palestine is in itself an act of resistance) is amazing, and Palestinians know that and are proud of it. They will tell you: “the Palestinians are a strong people, we will always fight back until we have our country” and they are right.
Don’t denounce the Palestinian struggle. They are fighting for a just cause against a powerful and cruel enemy. Don’t be shy to say that Zionism is analogous to Nazism – it is. Would you, in retrospect, denounce Jews for fighting back by any means necessary against the Nazis?
Stand with the people of Palestine for freedom and self-determination.