The Palestinian story: Remember us (by Anna Denise Aldis and Dex A. Eastman)
“”” When the passage of time finally brings the men of many lands to the tables of judgment, politicians from countries that have emboldened Israel with their silence will gaze into the eyes of delegations from around the world only to see the same eyes gazing back. Remember us for we may not be at that table.
There are reasons for this.
We were once free to roam the lands of our fathers, to feel happiness and to cry when in despair. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River was our realm, but how were we to know what they intended to do to our nation.
They provoked wars and committed the most terrible of sins against the Jewish population, but when it was time to compensate, they put the burden of their own wrongdoings on our shoulders. One nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.
Everyone had a say, the then president of the United States Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the leaders of the Zionist movement and even the representatives of Anglo-Jewry opposed to Zionism. There was no need to canvass Arab opinion.
They sat at round tables, signed agreements, sent the text to other powers for approval but no one consulted us. Remember us the native people of the ancient land of Canaan, Palestine it was called.
We protested, signed petitions, held rallies but to no avail; the process of nullification had already begun. They had decided to create a 100% Jewish state for the Jews of the West who had suffered under anti-Semitism in Europe. Nobody asked whether we were even responsible for the anti-Jewish propaganda in Germany. Remember us who sought your helping hand when they threatened us with annihilation.
Why were we for decades the main victims of the horrific massacre of the Jews by the Germans, Rumanians and Hungarians?
United under the Zionist slogan of ‘A land without a people for a people without a land’, certain powers opened the floodgates by telling Jews that our land is one that lacks inhabitants and must belong to a nation with no land.
They helped the 1948 creation of Israel based on the ‘Judenstaat’ which had been envisaged in 1896 by the founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl.
Then the flood suddenly hit us. We were no longer welcome in our own homes, our own towns and villages and on our own lands. They tried to bribe us into leaving the land of our ancestors. They promised to pay for all our expenses for us to leave Palestine and settle in neighboring Arab states.
But how could we leave? How could we leave our homes, our lands, the graves of our fathers and the hopes of our children? How were we supposed to forget and make our children forget that we had roots in Palestine? We objected.
We knew our resistance would cost us dearly, but we were ready to save our lands from the foreign invaders. Those oppressed in the Holocaust were transformed into the tormenter of the Arab population in Palestine.
Remember us in 1948 in the unarmed village Deir Yassin where 254 of us men, women and children were awakened from our sleep with the sound of bombs ripping through neighboring houses. Irgun and Lehi terrorist groups had received orders to uproot us, the Arab population of the village.
They threw bombs into our houses and slaughtered all of us they could find. About twenty-five of us were brought out of our houses on a ‘victory tour’ and then to a stone quarry where they shot us in cold blood.
The Red Cross came to understand our fate when they looked into our lifeless eyes and at nearly 150 of our maimed bodies abandoned in a well.
Several of us survived to tell the story of this indelible blemish carved in the pages of Zionist history.
“I saw a soldier grabbing my sister, Saliha al-Halabi, who was nine months pregnant. He pointed a machine gun at her neck, then emptied its contents into her body. Then he turned into a butcher, and grabbed a knife and ripped open her stomach to take out the slaughtered child with his iniquitous Nazi knife,” Halima Id, a survivor of the attack, told her sister later.
They failed to plant fear in our hearts for what is home if it is not to be cherished?
Remember us in 1953 in Qibya when our women were preparing meals for the men and children and nearly 600 Israeli soldiers moved toward our village. We heard explosions, screaming and artillery fire, but the collapse of our roofs and the following darkness was the last we saw.
The then commander of the “101” unit, Ariel Sharon, later said that his leaders’ orders had been clear on how to deal with the village. “The orders were utterly clear: Qibya was to be an example to everyone.”
Original documents of the time showed that Sharon personally ordered his troops to achieve “maximal killing and damage to property”.
UN observers say they saw our bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways and multiple bullet hits on the doors of our demolished houses and that we had been forced to remain inside until our homes were blown up over us.
They then wished to deny us presence in neighboring Lebanon, which had allowed us refuge from the anti-Semitism victims turned against us.
Remember us in 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. The Israeli army watched as the murderers they had provoked against us entered our two Palestinian refugee camps in the southern outskirts of West Beirut.
Us women were lying in houses with our skirts torn up to our waists, our children with cut throats, rows of us young men were shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall.
Our babies were lying like discarded dolls on the streets, blackened because they had been slaughtered more than 24 hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition.
We were tossed into rubbish heaps alongside discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey.
3,500 of us were slaughtered; some of us men as young as 12 or 13 were killed with our arms and legs wrapped around each other, picturing the agony of our death. All of us had been shot at point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to our ears and entering our brains.
Award-winning Middle East correspondent Robert Frisk recalls that “On one blackened wrist a Swiss watch recorded the correct time, the second hand still ticking round uselessly, expending the last energies of its dead owner.”
Remember us in 2002 in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin where hundreds of us were buried alive in our homes. Our bodies were crushed and smoldered by buildings when the heavily-armored Caterpillar D-9 tore down our homes, our shelters and all of our belongings.
The IDF was fulfilling the orders of the then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who in 1956 vowed to “burn every Palestinian Child that will be born” in Palestine. “I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him”.
They struggled for a fortnight to bury our bodies and the evidence of the atrocity. They piled us in houses and when the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building to bring its ruins down on our corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank.
Remember us in 2008 in the Gaza Strip where the bombs of hatred rained down on us to prove that world New Year celebrations have no meaning. They called into action F16 bombers and apache helicopters to put fear into the very hearts of our nation even though we had long been left with no real method of defense.
Over 230 of us were killed and 800 of us were wounded. Remember us!
Let world leaders hold imprecise debates about what constitutes a massacre. Let Israel and its allies cover up their crimes. You can even call the state built upon the ruins of our homeland ‘the de facto democracy of the Middle East’.
But as our bodies lie in mass graves in our backyards, know that we are the children of Palestine — a nation of people who as our last words utter the Muslim declaration of faith (Shahadatain) and pass on our mantle of resistance to the next forgotten person.
The writers have dedicated this article to the many Palestinians that have lost their lives in the deadly Israeli attacks on Gaza on December 27, 2008. “””
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