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For western countries, Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians are non-people

May 23,2018 - Last updated at May 23,2018

Thousands demonstrated in Jakarta, Buenos Aires, and other world capitals on May 15th, the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian “Nakba”, catastrophe, but in Washington protesters numbered about 300 and the rally took place on a grassy section of Dupont Circle in  the  centre of the city rather  than in front of the White House. As people approached the demonstration, there was a rank of posters of Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year- old Palestinian girl imprisoned by Israel  for pushing and pummeling an  armed and armoured Israeli soldier outside her home in a small  occupied West Bank village. She was wearing a pink t-shirt with a star in the centre and bearing the  words,  “Palestinians have the Right 2 Return”. 

On the edge of the grass, stood three boards with the names of more than 400 Palestinian villages destroyed by the Israeli army to prevent expelled inhabitants from returning to their homes. he rally — for it was really a polite rally rather than a noisy demonstration — brought together Palestinians with Orthodox Jewish anti-Zionists from Naturei  Karta, Code Pink activists, a Holocaust survivor, regional hands, and a member of a young Jewish group that opposes the policies of Israel and the Trump administration.

Following a short speech on the Nakba that drove the two-thirds of Palestinians from their homes and tens of thousands into exile, young Palestinians read out the names of the Gazans slain by Israeli sharpshooters during last week’s mass “Return” demonstrations seeking to breach the Israeli fence. This barrier traps 2 million Palestinians in  the narrow coastal strip, denies nourishment, electricity, clean water, building and manufacturing materials, medicine, and other essentials. A gentle musician armed with an oud rather than a sniper rifle sang patriotic Palestinian songs. 

Youngsters circulated among participants, greeting one another, hugging, smiling, chatting. A Jewish man in a kippa (a tiny skull cap pinned to the back of his head] wore a t-shirt carrying the message: “Young Jews reject Trump’s embassy of occupation”, referring to Donald Trump’s shift of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Eighty per cent of US Jews asked if they agreed on this move by pollsters replied they did not agree. Trump does not rely on their support but the backing of the hardliners who back the Likud and other right-wing Israeli parties as well as pro-Israeli Christian evangelicals who are his core constituency. 

Here in the heart of Washington the protest was small, orderly, a get-together of victims who are not regarded as victims by most of the people in the United States, particularly the current occupiers of the White House. Palestinian history, culture, personal  narratives and sufferings are ignored by the citizens of the country which has collaborated with the Zionists and Israel to deny Palestinians  their land, homes, rights, identity as a people, their humanity. 

Palestinians are either dismissed a non-entities or demonised as “terrorists” while countries and people who  support their cause are accused of anti-Semitism: racism against Jews. 

Earlier On the 15th, The Gulf Today had a discussion with two retired US foreign services officers who had served in the region. They made the point that citizens  of this country and their policy-makers are not interested in the history, culture, religions, experiences and views of peoples else-where. Consequently, the US stumbles from one disaster to another in its  dealings with countries in this and other regions. Indeed, the US is ruled not only by ignorance but “willful ignorance”, which the Buddha condemned as “a sin”. 

Many people even glory in the depth of their ignorance and celebrate their 

refusal to deal with realities that exist outside the borders of this vast country. 

One of the foreign service officers attempts to advise newcomers on how to approach countries where they might be stationed while the other teaches a course on Islam as a faith and the aggressive and destructive Western Christian approach to Muslims since the Crusades of the 11th and 13th centuries through the colonial period, and into the 21st century. The attitude of these former diplomats is that Muslims have very good reasons to resent Western intrusion and intervention in their affairs. 

It is this resentment among young Muslims that extremists have tapped into and exploited with the aim of creating cadres of holy warriors to retaliate against the West. It is not the West’s prosperity and democracy that these extremists resent; it is a long history of abuse, colonisation, and ignorance of Islam, its culture and civilisation, its achievements and adherents. The appropriation of Palestine, a land holy to Muslims and Christians as well as Jews, is  the most egregious example of Western aggression on the Arab and Muslim worlds. But this is not understood in the US. 

The dismissal of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims as non-people prompted British foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour to issue the infamous declaration pledging to facilitate the establishment of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine at a time the Palestinians amounted to 90 per cent of the population of their homeland. In spite of this damaging statistic Balfour referred to the indigenous Palestinians as “non-Jewish” residents as if they were foreign and the Zionists settling and colonising Palestine were its rightful owners. 

This characterisation of Palestinians as “non-people” has coloured Western attitudes long before Palestine became an issue. Indeed, since the Crusaders invaded and occupied the Levant during the 11th-13th centuries. Palestinians are not the only people of this region to suffer from being regarded as “non-people”. Iraqis have been treated terribly due to former US president George W. Bush’s ambitions to create a US-surrogate regime in their country. Having “liberated” Iraq from the secular Baath Party and Saddam Hussein, the US transformed the country into land beset by sectarian conflict for the past 15 years. The Western powers continue to try to repeat the Iraq disaster in Syria, plunging both countries — both homelands of ancient civilisations — into constant warfare. Palestinians, Iraqis and Syrians don’t count because they are “non-people.”

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Comments

YES, THE KEY PHRASE HERE IS " MASTER OF THEIR DESTINY".

'Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims' - isn't this part of the problem, this bracketing by many Middle East commentators just goes to highlight why the Arab League is ineffectual, and why the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia recently stated to a <> audience, "Palestinians should stop whining".

My friend, Dr Samuel, is spot on, blame the West once you've got your own house in order? Take away all these layers of discontent and what have we got, the historical Sunni v Shia power play in action on a daily basis?

YES, YOU CAN BLAME THE WEST BUT MORE SO THE ARAB WORLD. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME AND SO THE WEST IS DANCING ON A MUSIC CREATED BY THE ARAB WORLD AND THEIR LEADERS. WHO CAN OR WILL EXTEND ANY SO-CALLED RESPECT TO IRAQ, SYRIA OR PALESTINE WHEN THOSE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT THEM TURNS AGAINST THEM????.

Yet another woe is me theme. Arabs are always the victims, responding to the endless atrocities perpetrated against them. Their conditions will never improve until they are masters of their destiny.

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