For those in my life, you know that I’m in the process of studying for my master’s in Middle Eastern Studies, and because my interest is in marginalized identities in the Middle East, particularly Copts in Egypt, Christian and Muslims in Palestine, and Assyrians in Syria and Iraq–that my master’s thesis will re-examine the Israeli dehumanizing narrative of Palestinians with a purpose to redefine “violence.”
This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, especially since I live in the United States, and that history in this country–“African Americans are lazy” and “Latinos are illegal”–proves to be extremely violent in how it portrays the most vulnerable, and certainly how it portrays the most powerful as benevolent, endearing, charming, docile.
Anyway, a similar, sad phenomena is happening in Palestine, and we’ve seen this rehashed in the media recently because Donald has announced that he’s moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
What’s the big deal?
First, one must understand what Donald is doing and his current elopement with Israeli politics. The US Embassy must be stationed in the capitol of the country, so the US Embassy of Egypt is in Cairo; the US Embassy of Kenya is in Nairobi; the US Embassy of Greece is in Athens, etc. For Israel–that Jewish colonial state in Palestine–the US Embassy used to be in Tel Aviv. Since the right has been in power in Israel, Netanyahu (the prime minister) has urged that the US take the first step in violating (yet another) UN regulation; Netanyahu asked Obama, who rejected the proposal although he didn’t do much else to not support Israel, and now Netanyahu, seeing the fool we have as a president, has gotten the bankrupt daddy’s boy to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, a city that is under international jurisdiction (that is, it’s not under any country, any jurisdiction, other than that of the United Nations because, using the logic of the UN, if all of you brown people want it, none of you get it). So this moving of the US Embassy is the first international step in recognizing Israel’s dominance in the area and its legitimacy in colonizing the West Bank (which I will explain later).
Now, a little about Jerusalem for those with less religious proficiency.
Jerusalem was conquered by the Jews, slaves, after leaving Egypt; they conquered the city from the Canaanites because this land was the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the forefathers of the Hebrews (“from Hebron”) before they were enslaved in Egypt. So, upon their return home, after centuries of slavery, they arrive to capture Jerusalem. Fast forward: we see the Israelites/Hebrews/Jews, after conquering the land and settling, asking God for a king, so that they can be like the other nations. God is saddened that His people do not prefer Him as a ruler (1 Samuel), but He grants them their desire and chooses Saul. Saul turns evil, and long story short (it’s honestly a good read), David becomes king of Israel, and because David loves God, he vows to build a temple to house God. Now, David competes a grave sin, and God forgives him, but gives him a punishment and also says to David that he cannot build the temple, that his hands have too much blood on them. Fast forward: David’s son from Bathsheba, Solomon, takes on the task of building the Temple for God, builds it all in gold from Africa, etc. This is the first Temple. It is destroyed by the Babylonians who invade Judea/Israel, and then the Jews come back from Babylon to Judea and they rebuild the Temple a second time (read Nehemiah in the Bible), and this is the Second Temple. Fast forward: Jesus arrives on earth in the flesh and preaches at the Second Temple. Forty years after Jesus is given the death penalty, in 70 CE, Romans are fed up with the Jews and they destroy the Second Temple, and all that remains in Jewish memory is the Temple Mount–that foundation piece of the Temple that used to stand. Today, it is a site of mourning and prayer (instead of animal sacrifice and repentance as it as in its high day).
That’s the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews. For the Christians, Jerusalem is key to Jesus’ ministry, and in particular, Jesus’ death penalty on the cross. The week before Jesus was arrested, “tried,” sentenced by the law to die, crucified, Jesus spent that last week in Jerusalem. So, naturally, it’s important to Christians also. Jerusalem, as Christ says right before entering it a second time, “how long I have longed to gather your children together,” (Matthew 23:37) is also a site of deep mourning.
For Muslims, the Temple Mount–not just Jerusalem–is a site of importance. Muhammad is said to have traveled to heaven, and to have seen the heavenly bodies, from Jerusalem, in his night dream. Because of this, there are two mosques built on top of the Temple Mount: Dome of the Rock (which is more of a monument than a mosque, since you can’t pray inside), and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was the site of protests this past summer.
Hence, Jerusalem is important to all three religions.
Now, that’s just background. Let’s actually answer the question now: what’s the big deal? Why is moving the US Embassy and recognizing the Israeli capitol as Jerusalem so controversial?
Let’s start with the British Mandate of Palestine.
After World War II, the Ottoman Empire, already ill, passed away, and Europe had already swept in like vultures to salvage the harvest. Of course, by the 1910s, colonialism was ousted as an evil thing–and slavery too–so white people had to think of another system.
They formed a League of Nations–mostly European ones, since most didn’t have nation-states anyway–and from themselves, to themselves, they legitimized colonizing sections of the Middle East under the name of “mandates.” The Mandate System is defined, by Europeans, as such: a European nation, like Britain, will take it upon itself to maintain, help, and take care of rich, diverse nations (that didn’t ask for it).
Now, it’s important to note that at this time the British and many other Europeans knew it was no longer profitable to colonize countries AND BE INVOLVED, as they had been in the Congo and in South Africa. It was too costly to be too involved–not only costly, but also morally unsound because now slaves could read and they had the Bible on their side. Therefore, the religious act had to be dumped for a new one, that also justified them not helping too much, and that was found in the Mandate System.
Anyway, the British had a mandate over Palestine and Iraq. But let’s focus on Palestine.
The British kept Jews separate from Christians and Muslims in Palestine, and I don’t just mean geographically: I mean, the British gave Jews weapons and justified the Jewish neighbors having militias while they didn’t do or allow the same for the Palestinians. The British sponsored a Jewish newspaper, Jewish universities, Jewish markets.
What does this naturally breed? (If you’ve ever babysat or even been a camp counselor, you can only imagine.) Palestinians couldn’t naturally compete: they worked for Jews, they tried to enroll in Jewish universities, they couldn’t form a government because there wasn’t a structure for it, etc. And making the Palestinians submissive to Jewish economics and politics was already a kind of violence, but as mentioned, the violence became worse when Jews, with big guns thanks to the British, began to ethnically purge Palestine (Deir Yassin is an important example of a village ethnically purged).
There were bombings; there were harassments and guns pulled by Israeli forces, and meanwhile, the British benefited in two senses:
- Jews were leaving Europe for Palestine, which is what anti-Semites wanted. Notice that Zionism–that is, Israeli/Jewish nationalism–is anti-Semitism because it agrees with anti-Semites that Jews don’t belong in Europe. This philosophy has created great division in Jews since its inception. Anyway, the British only sponsored the Jews in Palestine because they wanted Jews to leave Europe. Just like Hitler and many Germans.
- The British, while they created the violence and in-fighting, took the wealth up, drew up all the resources of the country.
That is until it became unprofitable, but now the British had created an image that allowed, in 1948, to keep that violence going–because brown lives don’t matter.
In early of 1948, another British colony declared freedom, but still under British influence, the subcontinent split into three distinct countries, “nation-states”: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. (NOTICE that the two “Islamic” countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, are on opposite sides of each other. Whenever you study “post”-colonial societies, like India, South Africa, the United States, Palestine, etc., notice how white people always separate the minorities into distinct regions. Notice.)
There was extreme bloodshed as Muslims were made to migrate to distant lands, foreign lands (the subcontinent is large). Many were forced to pick up their stuff, Hindu and Muslim, and to leave: Muslims were stoned, Hindu houses burned.
Because when we make difference a difference instead of a similarity we should accept (that is, the notion that everyone–everyone–is different), we start to kill each other.
And the British, after recommending this to the League of Nations/United Nations, in May of 1948 of that same year recommended the same of Palestine: partition the region into two areas: Jewish vs. Christian/Muslim Palestinians.
The UN drew up a sketch of the partition and sent it to the Jewish and Palestinian delegates.
The Jews rejected the partition on the basis that they deserved more land to sustain them; meanwhile, the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, peacefully rejected on the basis that it was wrong to even divide the land (for those who are Biblical scholars, this should remind you of the story of King Solomon’s court in which two mothers appear with one child and are arguing over whose child it is; King Solomon’s solution is to cut the child in half and give each woman half, and of course, the fake mother agrees because this would mean the other woman has lost her son and is, thus, even, but the real mother cries out and begs that King Solomon not kill the child, and King Solomon deems this mother the true one).
For those who call Palestinians terrorists, you have obviously not studied the situation because terrorism is not fighting for freedom, but rather terrorism is making monsters of men.
Palestinians have been of the most peaceful peoples to protest injustice, and they’ve lost much in less than 100 years, so the offensive, senseless, ignorant statements of “Palestinian terrorism” is really, honestly sickening.
The UN, upon both parties’ rejection, goes back to the drawing board, but the Jews know that the British said that they’re leaving May 15, 1948, and like any colonizer, the Jews state that they are afraid of being alone, take up their weapons and start a war with the Palestinians, kill them, pillage their land, drive them into two distinct sections of Palestine: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians, no weapons, no violence, have lost their homes, their schools, their land, and more importantly, they are farmers, and now, tossed into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, both arid lands, the land is so barren–it only soaks up their tears.
With no home, no land to farm, the Palestinians are forced to work for Israeli businesses, forced to give thanks to Israelis for giving them these businesses, while Israelis import their food from elsewhere, and Palestinians, farmers by trade, work in factories to this day.
This is a photo of the UN Partition Plan of 1948 that both the Jews and Palestinians rejected:
Now, these four maps show you clearly what is happening. In 1947, the minority, the Jews, don’t have much of a presence. They’re slim and living with the Palestinians who accompany them.
In 1948, Israeli forces with Western weapons attack Palestinians and take more land.
In 1967, Israel, again under the disguise of being afraid that Egypt will attack, begins bombing Egypt and the West Bank and Gaza. They take even more territory, capturing, this time, East Jerusalem. That is why, in the 1967 map, the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan Heights are shaded: it’s still considered under Palestinian political control, but the Israeli military colonizes these areas–these areas which, before, they had so generously given to Palestinians.
And, finally, in 2005, a Wall goes up and Israeli forces still have military control over Palestinian lands. And now, in 2017, Palestinians have also lost Jerusalem.
What’s important to note:
- How “afraid” Israel is, yet we do not hear of Palestinian fear–which is actual, justified fear
- How Israel defies the United Nations, capturing Jerusalem, even though it’s under international jurisdiction, militarizing the West Bank and Gaza, etc. The UN is a prop for Western governments to justify themselves legally; it has no power, no honesty in human rights, no accountability of white people. It’s merely a tool for white countries.
Tell me, who’s the bad guy in all of this?
There is no such thing as parallel narratives, no such thing as “he said-she said.” There is only Truth, and those who lie about the Truth because it does not benefit them. Israel is lying, and that is the Truth.
In 1967, Israel took over half of Jerusalem, leaving the other half for Palestinians supposedly, and in the act of capturing Jerusalem, disobeyed international law concerning Jerusalem.
Since then, they’ll ethnically purged Jerusalem, building colonizing settlements there and kicking out residents. They’ve made it that few Palestinians live in Jerusalem, even though before 1967, the Palestinians did not kick out or commit violence against Jews in the West Bank, in Jerusalem. It’s only when Israel comes in that Palestinian lives are made to leave.
The regime in Palestine has done this in order to legitimize its takeover. Gaza and the West Bank are now under two different and separate governments (Hamas and Fatah respectively), and Israel benefits not only from the geographical separateness of the Palestinian cause, but also from the political separateness.
And slowly, slowly, Israel eats at Palestinians. Gaza has no medicine; hospitals and schools are bombed regularly; settlements are continually being built next to Palestinian ghettos; Palestinians are made to pass the checkpoint at the Wall when entering their country in order to work in Israel–they have to have papers in order to move and work after being displaced, much like Americans in the United States (that is, “Native” Americans), much like Black people in South Africa.
What happens in Israel is not new; it’s a crime against humanity that repeats under a new justification and logic.
This past summer, there were protests at Al-Aqsa Mosque in which Palestinians were hosed and shot at by IDF (Israeli Defense Forces, which had started out as the Irgun, a terrorist organization under the British Mandate era). Christians and Muslims in Palestine saw this coming; they knew the Israeli colonizers were coming for Jerusalem.
They knew they were going to lose again, not just the land but also the symbol of great suffering comforted by God because that is what Jerusalem, in the end, means for Muslims and Christians: there is a heaven to which we return, to which we resurrect. When Donald took that dream away from Palestinians, allowing now the full ethnic purging of Jerusalem and eventually the West Bank (as Palestinians are pushed further out and out of their own land), he participated in this violence as his predecessors had because, for the United States, peace and freedom are only ideas of the lips, not actual and true ideals to instate, of course–because that would mean there would be no United States, no Israel.
What can I do?
Like on facebook the following pages: The Institute of Palestine Studies; Mondoweiss; Humanity for Palestine. There is a huge and encompassing Israeli lobby in the United States (surprise, surprise), so it’s very rare on campus/at work/etc. to actually find people who know anything and are pro-Palestine, so I would stick to these sites.
For those who are readers, please check out Ilan Pappe’s work.
BOYCOTT, DISINVEST, AND SANCTION Israel
Don’t buy Israeli products (yes, they’re made by Palestinians in factories, but supporting a regime that is making most of the profit is not good for the Palestinians long-term); don’t eat at any Middle Eastern-themed restaurant owned, operated, cooked up by an Israeli; don’t VISIT Israel, especially to carry Christ’s cross in Jerusalem–that’s disgustingly ironic.
Instead, buy Palestinian goods at Palestinian stores; actively search them out. Say “Palestine” as much as possible when referring to that area, and refer to Israel, instead, as the Jewish state in Palestine. Don’t say “Israeli” anything–there is no such thing as Israeli food or culture!! The Jewish state in Palestine itself is made up of different kinds of Jews, so standardizing one food or culture is actually erasing other cultures (which is why Black Jews in Israel are protesting).
Don’t erase; uplift. I am not free until we all are.
In the words of the poet, Kahlil Gibran: “And how shall you rise beyond your days and night sunless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour? In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.”