Gideon Levy has written in Haaretz about the âabsurdâ situation whereby, in his words: âThe leader of the Palestinian people is forced to apologise to the Jewish peopleâ for saying something âanti-Semiticâ about the Holocaust. According to Levy, âThe one who was robbed apologises to the robbers, the victim apologises to the rapist, the dead to the killer.â His article was headed, âDear Occupiers, sorry if we hurt your feelingsâ and he pointed out that, âYou donât have to be an admirer of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to understand the depths of the absurd. You donât have to be an Israel hater to understand the extent of the chutzpah.â
His country, Israel, has never apologised for the Nakba, he noted, ânot for the ethnic cleansing, not for the destruction of hundreds of villages and the exiling of hundreds of thousands of people from their land.â In fact, as this courageous journalist explained, âA nation that hasnât stopped occupying, destroying and killing, and has never considered apologising for anything â anything â gets its victims to apologise for one measly sentence by their leader.â Predictably, he said, the apology was not accepted. âAfter all, the occupiers are so sensitive â and their feelings, and only theirs, must be taken into account.â
Israel didnât apologise for the crimes of the occupation of 1967, added Levy, âor for the stealing of land and the construction of the settlements, or for the false arrests, the mass killing and the destruction of a nationâs life. Not one Israeli statesman today intends to do this as a necessary step toward a different future. But Abbas has to apologise, or [Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman and The New York Times will demand his head. In fact, theyâll demand it even after he apologises.â
On the same day that Levy wrote his article, Haaretz published an editorial that demonstrates the extent of the humiliation of the Palestinians as well as the chutzpah â arrogance â that Levy mentioned. It told readers about Dareen Tatour, 36, who was arrested two and a half years ago after publishing a poem under the title âResist my people, resist themâ. Her indictment accused her of âpublishing on various publications a call for violent acts or terrorism” on Facebook and YouTube, and âpraising and identifying with acts of violence or terrorism.” This included, amongst other things, a short film showing masked individuals throwing rocks at the Israeli occupation forces, with the poem being recited in the background.
Tatourâs arrest is another type of state terrorism, as a result of which she has spent most of the past couple of years in prison and under house arrest. Of course, the Haaretz editorial was not empathising with the Palestinian cause; it was written because what happened to the poet was blatantly unfair and the newspaper felt that it could not be silent in the face of such injustice. Tatour has said that her trial âripped off the masksâ and that now, âThe whole world will hear what Israel’s democracy is. A democracy for Jews only.â As the writer of the Haaretz editorial puts it, âThe Arabs in Israel are used to hearing cries of âdeath to the Arabsâ, and a chance perusal of social media or the Knesset corridors is enough to see and hear the incitement â but no one is taken to court for that.â
There is little difference between the condemnation of Abbas and Tatour, as both of them are in cages. He is in Ramallah and she is in the village of Reina, near Nazareth. Both are victims, but they must apologise to their persecutors, or else.
Using such perverse logic, when we see the sand in Gaza turning red with the blood of people shot, killed and wounded by Israeli soldiers simply because they chose to protest against the injustice of being held them in their open-air cage, should the Palestinians apologise for âruiningâ the Israeli celebration of Donald Trump moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem? Should they beg Israelâs pardon for spoiling their party with blood-soaked images of dead and wounded people who simply want to exercise their legitimate right to return to their occupied land?
Whatâs more, while Abbas has had to apologise to the Jewish people for âone measly sentenceâ should he not also consider apologising to his own people, the Palestinians in Gaza, for the punitive measures that he has imposed on them? Should he apologise to his partners in the âsacredâ security collaboration for Gazaâs ârebellionâ and refusal to surrender to those who have stolen their land? Is it enough for him to declare a state of mourning for three days over the victims besieged by those closest to them, as well as the Israeli occupation?
If the âlegitimacy leaderâ is serious about his state of mourning and grief for his people, he should apologise for suffocating them with his sanctions, and end immediately his contribution towards of the Israeli-led siege of his fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
This article first appeared in Arabic inÂ Al-Araby Al-JadeedÂ on 17 may 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.