By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban
The children gathered around what was, moments ago, their safe haven, the reservoir of their memories, the focus of their happiness, the link between them and their fathers and grandfathers, to see with their innocent eyes every brick of their house turn into rubble. The metal head of the American-made bulldozer moved from one wall to another until the roof swaggered and fell. The children cried and asked with tears down their checks, "Where shall we go? Where shall we sleep?" They ran and tried to recover their books and toys, while their tears watered the torn pieces of their house destroyed by typical Israeli brutality in the usual way it has been killing and torturing Palestinians for the past sixty years with the support of the American administration and funding from the US Congress.
Those children have Israeli nationality and live with their families in the Palestinian city of Al Lid, occupied since 1948. But the problem is that they are Arabs living in an entity ruled by Zionists engaged in ethnic cleansing against them with the support of European and American governments which persist in depriving them of freedom, human rights and justice by preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state under different pretexts. After insuring the submission of the Obama administration and Europe and their silence regarding its crimes, the Netanyahu government has now started to demolish the houses of Arabs in the parts of Palestine occupied since 1948, in the same way it destroyed thousands of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Those Palestinian children will spend Christmas and New Year's Eve homeless and refugees on their own land.
The White House receives children and gives them gifts without pausing and thinking for one minute of the question: Why do Palestinian children have their houses destroyed by bulldozers donated by the US Congress? Why is the world watching the Israeli oppression and occupation machine while it is robbing Palestinians of their childhood and filling their eyes with tears and their hearts with sorrow for missing a warm bed, a hot drink and a house that sheltered them, their families and loved ones.
All those now busy decorating Christmas trees in their houses, particularly in the White House, the United States, and Europe; and those buying gifts to put under their Christmas trees, should remember the Palestinian child Yusuf al-Ziq, the youngest prisoner in the world (2 years), and Hadil Abu Turki, Obaida Aseida, Amjad al-Khatib and Ahmad Siam all arrested while under the age of twelve and tried in court for throwing a stone at an Israeli tank!!! The list of acts of terror meted out by the extremist Netanyahu government goes on and on. The question is: are these children among the children whose rights the West defends and insists should enjoy a childhood of play, pleasure and learning? Or is there an American law for all the children of the world which protects their safety, freedom and rights, and another law for the children of Palestine, which dictates that they should be forever terrorized by the Zionists?
When Christians of the West celebrate Christmas in their warm houses, do they remember the millions of Palestinians who live under oppression, deprived of freedom and justice as a result of their governments' complicity in Israeli crimes which culminated in de facto ethnic cleansing in the form of demolishing Palestinian houses and building more settlements for Jews coming from the farthest parts of the world. Will Christians celebrating Christmas remember the suffering of more than eleven thousand Palestinian prisoners, including women and children whose only sin is that they are Palestinians under occupation?
Western disregard for this human suffering is not the result of ignorance. It is rather the result of deliberate political omission, on the part of American and European politicians, resulting from their absolute support to the Netanyahu government. After the United States abandoned its demand that Israel freeze settlement building, the 'peace' envoy returned to 'bridge' the gap between Israelis and Palestinians. In other words, and since American pressure on Israel is completely lifted, it will fall in its entirety on the victims of the occupation. It means that achieving 'proximity' between the two parties, can be only achieved through pressure on the unarmed Palestinian party, which does not have the Jewish money, the influence of this money on the US Congress, media and administration, in order to abandon the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom, justice and human rights. The latest publications of WikiLeaks show that the United States has agreed right from the beginning not to stop settlements and all the American show about peace negotiations was only for media consumption.
Amidst this human suffering resulting from the policy of ethnic cleansing, the EU foreign ministers met and issued a statement in which they 'threatened' Israel to recognize a Palestinian state 'in due time'. The question is: when is this due time? Palestinians have been deprived of their freedom for more than six decades! Do these ministers feel for a people tortured and deprived of human rights and freedom? Children are growing up deprived of their basic children rights? Can we tell these ministers, "you will not go back home, see your children and celebrate except 'in due time"?
On Christmas Eve, those who reminisce on the suffering of Jesus Christ should make a stand against this gross Israeli injustice against Palestinian civilians, those whose existence in Palestine precedes Jesus. The history of Jesus' suffering is now repeating itself there. Those celebrating Christmas in Europe and the White House support Israeli injustice and turn their back on the Palestinian victims. What does celebrating Christmas mean if our brothers in humanity, living in the Holy Land chosen for the cradle of Jesus, are being subjected to forms of oppression which are a disgrace to humanity? What does it mean when the 'civilized' and 'Christian' West does not pause, on Christmas, and take a position against Israeli brutality and in favor of justice, freedom and human rights? Has the time, deferred by European and American leaders for more than sixty years, come for the 'civilized' world to answer this question? Or, are leaders of the United States and the European Union still awaiting the success of Israeli ethnic cleansing by eliminating the last Palestinian civilian so that there is no need to recognize a Palestinian state, something they have been postponing because 'the time has not come yet'?
Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through [email protected].
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.