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|Reflections from a Middle East Conflict Teach In.|
|04/04/02 at 10:47:55|
[i]Yesterday I went to a teach in at VCU and below are my notes interlaced with my thoughts throughout the teach in. Just a reflection piece.[/i]
Reflections from a Middle East Conflict Teach In.
“Palestinians Seize Church” screamed the headlines on yesterday’s Richmond Times paper. At a glance, those words say it all, reality however diametrically differs from this piece of the latest media distortion in the Middle East conflict. Brother Adeeb Abed, a Palestinian man well versed with the plight of his country, captivated a room full of Virginia Commonwealth University students, professors, and visitors with his tragic account of Palestine’s history in the hands of Israeli occupation.
Palestine was still under the British mandate, when the British issued the Balfour declaration in 1917 in response to the Jewish persecution in Europe and the Zionist movement to create a National Jewish State:
“His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”. [/size]
How they were planning to create a National Jewish state without infringing on the rights of the indigenous people still escapes many of us. The influx of Jews after World War started creating schisms for Palestinians protested against the Balfour declaration. The British government published a new White Paper restricting Jewish immigration and offering independence for Palestine within ten years. This was rejected by the Zionists, who then organized terrorist groups and launched a bloody campaign against the British and the Palestinians. The aim was to drive them both out of Palestine and to pave the way for the establishment of the Zionist state. With the Jewish holocaust after World War 2, the British were forced under International pressure to open Palestinian doors for more migration of Jewish refugees. In 1947 British withdrew from the region and the UN attempted to partition the region into an Arab state and a corresponding Jewish state. Arabs rejected the partition and in 1948 a war ensued that resulted in the Proclamation of “Israel’s Independence”. A wave of Arab refugees migrated out of the region, leaving the more settlements and land acquisitions for the Israeli occupiers.
The Palestine Liberation Organization was established in 1964. On 1 January 1965 The Palestine 'Revolution' began .
Brother Abed went on to talk about the failure of the Oslo accord and the myth of Camp David's generous offer, the history of Sharon’s blood trail, the ensuing determination of Israel to continue expanding their occupation, and the Palestinian resistance and struggle. To try and capture the intricacies of decades of war in an hour long lecture was really hard. To do so in my notes is even harder. I searched the web to find a good site that could provide a comprehensive timeline of the conflict. It was no surprise that the results were many; http://www.palestinehistory.com/altindex.html is a good site that highlights some of the major turning points in this conflict.
At some point I stopped writing and let the reality of the conflict settle into my consciousness. Brother Abed was not melodramatic or emotional in his presentation, he did not need to be. His words carried the full impact of the struggle of a people, of the dying of a nation, of the Holy Land’s desecration. I reflected on the most recent escalation of Israeli aggression spreading terror into the depths of Palestine’s homes. I envisioned myself in Ramallah. I could hear the tanks rumbling in the distance, the gunshots, the screams. I could see myself crouched in the corner of my room trying desperately to protect my little sister with my powerless hug. I could see my mother pleading with my determined little brother “Don’t go! They will slaughter you like they slaughtered your father!” I could see my brother, 18, with no prospects of an education, a job, marriage…With no prospects of dignity, nationhood, identity, with anger, disgust, powerlessness, helplessness, rushing out to defend his dying right. His last hope of a manhood deferred. I could see refugee camps being attacked by soldiers, massacres of women and children, torture of the men, humiliation, agony, defeat. I could see no end to this endless tunnel devoid of light, devoid of mercy. I could see no end to this ongoing terror. I drove home in tears of frustration at my own lavish existence and helplessness. I vowed to do what is in my power to help the Palestinian cause, but the endless rallies, protest letters and teach ins has done little to prevent the increasing tide of bloodshed and massacres. I went to sleep with a prayer to my Beloved for the tragedy of Palestine, for the horrors in Afghanistan, for Gujarat’s massacres, for Kashmir’s struggle, for the apathy of the world, for the deadening of hearts, for the blindness of justice, for dying ideals, for weakening morality, for a declining humanity. I prayed for the awakening of our Collective Consciousness, I prayed for our noble rise before the imminent fall. I prayed for you and I. I prayed for us all.
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