Pride versus Dignity

Whenever we start arguing about the wisdom of attaching different colours to different people, we allow ourselves to enter a celestial realm that is above humanity. We allow ourselves to be elevated to such highs that our vision and our memory of what does it mean to be human is blurred, narrow and partial. The more superior we place ourselves the less we are able to remember that it is neither by our own virtue nor by our non-virtue that we are what we are not. The more superior we feel the less we are able to remember that since nobody gets consulted or gets to fill in preferences, people are never in a position nor ever in a historical frame of mind to apologize for their existence.

Does Israel for example expect the Palestinians to say we are ever so sorry we exist? Does Israel for example expect the Palestinians to say our dignity is there for the taking please do indulge and do not let your pride stand in the way? Does Israel for example expect the Palestinians to say we would like to help you in whichever way possible to be kept under occupation and we rather enjoy the feeling of being refugees in our land? Or maybe Israel expects the Palestinians to say we particularly like to thank you for killing our children for “sport” and their fathers in “self defense” and the rest for being Palestinians. Or maybe Israel expects the Palestinians to be in owe for the many young Palestinians, Israeli soldiers could have killed, but instead chose to maim. Or maybe Israel expects the Palestinians to say we are too impressed by your war machine and your bulldozers that could demolish our homes, our fields and us and all at once. If you ever feel compelled to use nuclear weapons in ‘self defense’, give us prior notice so we will have enough time to thank you and the rest of the world, before being wiped out. Or maybe Israel wants to “teach Palestinians” a lesson in defabricating or refabricating societies by simply erasing their kept records. Or maybe Israel wants to “teach the Palestinians” a lesson, they ought always to remember but never learn, of leaving the injured bleed to death and get away with it while the whole world is watching? Or maybe Israel wants to “teach the Palestinians” a lesson in the civilized behavior of destroying, looting, and eating scraps of food of their victims and all in “self defense” and out of self respect. Or maybe Israel wants to “teach the Palestinians” a lesson of how the “only democracy” in the region can arrest thousands and make them disappear hoping their families, and the world and they themselves forget all about them. Or maybe Israel wants to “teach the Palestinians” the ultimate lesson in democracy of how to hijack good old democracy by hijacking the UN.

If Israel made a decision to “teach the Palestinians” all these lessons the bottom line of which accept our superiority, accept occupation, accept humiliation, Israel must not act surprised and indignant how could anybody resist Israeli occupation. If Israel made the choice of trampling all over the Palestinians’ heads, surely, it would be rather abnormal if they stay lying on the ground, in that degrading animal like position, let alone not fight for their dignity and humanity. Does Israel expect history to stop in a small place called Palestine or with what Israel conceives of being a “human calamity” called the Palestinians?

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a conflict between what Israel wants to forget and what the Palestinians cannot help but remember: humanity and history. What Israel clearly forgets is that to be more human and more dignified or less human and less dignified holds as true for Israel as it does for the Palestinians.

Israeli checkpoints are an illustration of how humiliation has been refined to an art free of form by Israel. They are not only meant to prevent Palestinians from going to concerts, beaches, hospitals, schools and jobs. They are not only meant to prevent people from going home in time for dinner or in time to watch their houses being demolished or their trees being bulldozed. The young Israeli soldiers at checkpoints in effect tell the Palestinians and daily: we have control over your lives and your livelihoods. It is up to us and to our humanitarian mood if you are going to get anywhere on this earth for this matter.

When an eighteen year old Israeli soldier daily stops a seventy year old Palestinian man at a check point, and when the Palestinian man is given his daily prescribed dose of humiliation, the Palestinian cannot help but remember an earlier time in his life. He cannot help but remember a time when he used to live with his mother on a good piece of land. Mr. Zionist arrives to the Land along with relatives and neighbours and their neighbours, having all suffered a very great injustice. Upon meeting the Palestinian man’s mother, Mr. Zionist gets infatuated with her and with the idea of having a mother. After many years of bitter fighting, they agree to share the love for that mother. Mr. Zionist moves in what is left of the house. Having already taken the best rooms, the ones that overlook the sea and the lakes and the green fields, he is now after the Palestinian man’s shack and dignity. One day, Mr. Zionist turns around and tells the Palestinian man: not only she is not your mother, you were never born, you do not exit. The Palestinian man realizes that what Mr. Zionist wanted all along was to have the mother and the land all to himself. Whichever path the Palestinian man may choose, to defend his mother, from writing poetry to taking up arms, he can never forget who his mother is, or that he is born, brown, Palestinian and belongs to his land.

We all love our mothers. Only our countries are much better off with mature love than with infatuation. Except for the misleading intensity factor, infatuation is no measure of true love. That we love our mothers does not mean that we hate our fathers, siblings, neighbours and the rest of the world. But to idolize one’s mother to the point of being blind to her faults and shortcomings let alone not notice or even blink and love her all the more, if she is trying to annihilate cousins and wage wars on neighbours is no proof of love. It is because we love mother and we feel confident and comfortable with who we are and who she is, that we are able to see her, criticise her and want her to behave otherwise towards herself and others. Ironically, those people who happen to be Jews and have the dignity and courage to acknowledge the dignity and the humanity of other people who happen to be Palestinians are labeled by Israel, “self hating Jews”. Israel tells them, it is either blind love or no love. It is also ironic that the only hope for true peace between Israelis and Palestinians lies with what Israel labels “self hating Jews” and with Palestinians who love and respect these dignified Jews. The Jewish part being relevant to the love and respect part, only in so much as it confirms that except for humanity, dignity has no religion or nationality.

When this chapter of the Israeli Palestinian conflict of total superiority, total dehumanization, total conflict is recorded, it will always be preceded by another chapter when the Palestinians and for over a thousand years, did not have to fight Israeli occupation. For Israel to deny the Palestinians their history, is to deny that WWI and WWII took place and in that order. It is to deny that Europe, Hertzl, Balfour, and 1948 ever existed and in that order. Humanity and history are not perceptions that are subject to superiority or to “breaking news”. To deny them is to be beyond humanity and history.