Palestine Now and Then

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By Nidal Sakr

(MAF – 7/26/09) - At an Israeli university stop during her campaign for the 2009 elections, Tsipi Livni argued that a two-state solution is to the best interest of Israel, as a future Palestinian state will be home for the nearly one-and-a-half million Arabs living within the 1948 borders. Not long afterwards, a recent Russian immigrant who founded a party to ethnically cleanse Arabs from “historical Israel” came in third in elections, and now heads Israeli diplomacy. Last week Israeli Transportation Minister ordered the removal of all signs and placards carrying Arabic names of Palestinian towns, villages and cities in historical Palestine. A few days ago a ring of Rabbis and corrupt US politicians were caught for illegally profiteering in the human organ trade and money laundering to finance Israeli settlements on Arab lands.

As US Administration and the international community demanded a halt to settlements, Israeli government announced unprecedented plans to build thousands of housing units for which Israel will invite an influx of foreign immigrants to occupy. All such settlements are being built on illegally-confiscated Arab lands. Jerusalem, the spiritual capital to over three billion Muslims and Christians worldwide, which is comprised of Muslim and Christian holy sites while yet to have a single historically-verifiable Jewish land mark, is being increasingly turned into a massive Israeli settlement where Arab homes and properties are continuously confiscated, raised, and replaced with housings and parks for Israelis.

However, the wide array of violations and transgressions against the Arab community should come as no surprise. The Israeli community today has turned more militant and extremist than Israel has ever been, while the worse is yet to come.

Israel’s defiance is fueled by a perceived notion of impunity and unyielding, unconditional support from the US and the West. Such defiance is also encouraged by complacency of some Arab regimes that choose to align with Israeli interest against aspirations of their own peoples.

In this sense, Israeli problem to many Arabs on the streets mirrors that of totalitarian dictatorships who are removed from people’s aspirations for life with dignity at home, and freedom for their brethren in Palestine.

However, for ordinary Arabs the picture is not as bleak as it may appear. For the first time in Arabland, aside from Lebanon, free transparent elections were held in none other than Palestine. People spoke their mind about which agenda they wanted to represent them. And they chose the one that may have seemed to be the least likely to win. People chose resistance, and politics that is rooted in selflessness, public service, and clean handedness. Israel, the US, and their allies may not be jubilant about elections outcome, but the formidable winners of Palestinian elections are in fact the only party in Palestine that the world community can talk to with any credibility, and is the only party that is intact enough to deliver on any deal the world may broker with the emerging Palestinian leadership.

Hamas is not going anywhere and will only grow stronger and more deeply rooted in the Palestinian fabric and the conscious of the billion and a half Muslims and the many more freedom lovers behind it. The world community may choose to reach out to their self designated foe and will definitely find them more pragmatic, credible, and trustworthy than any of the Arab faces they have chosen to deal with so far. Alternatively, they may continue “talking to the hand” with no guarantees as to what that hand may be holding. Or they can plunge into a Gaza war-like quagmire.

For those who do not know Palestine or Palestinians well enough, Palestinian quagmire has not stopped since the day they welcomed that first tourist, who chose to bite the hand that fed him, into their homes some eighty years ago . They learned that their tree only grows stronger when fed with blood and sacrifice, and that floods always wash away the debris while the roots stay inseparable from the earth, hugging them so tightly with the unbreakable promise “never to let go.”