Thursday, 15 May 2008

When the abused becomes the abuser ..

Sixty years ago the sinister euphemism of ‘ethnic cleansing’ wasn’t known to the world.

But today it is exactly how we would have described the bulldozing in 1948 of Palestinian villages and the displacement of 700,000 refugees to secure Israeli settlement of the region. And many more have been driven from their homes since then.

It’s a cliché that nationalism when suppressed is romantic, whilst nationalism in power is obscene. But never was it more poignantly true than when it comes to the history of Israel-Palestine

As far as Palestinians are concerned, Zionism crossed that line with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Maybe liberal Israelis could point to 1967 and the Six Day War as the defining moment when Zionism lost it’s innocence.

As a neutral observer, it didn’t come home to me until I saw on the news in 1982 the horror of Israeli forces facilitating and colluding with Lebanese Fascist militias in the massacres of Palestinians at the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps.

Today Bush is visiting the Kniset to cheer-lead Israel’s 60th birthday celebrations, describing the USA and Israel as ‘the ardent defenders of liberty’ in the Middle East. Meanwhile Palestinians describe the 15th May simply as al-Naka or ‘The Catastrophe’.

To many of us who watch in safety it is perhaps the most depressing injustice of our generation; and in a sense the fate of the Palestinian people has become a symbol of all injustice. How ironic that the fate of the Jewish people was the same symbol for a previous generation.

No comments: