Letter from a Palestinian to Europe

Letter from a Palestinian to Europe

I write this letter as I continue to receive news from relatives, neighbors and friends killed in Gaza by Israel’s indiscriminate bombing.

By Majed Abusalama, October 18, 2023

Dear Europeans,

Like millions of Palestinians, I am living the worst nightmare: a new wave of mass death and destruction is descending on our people – what would often be called simply “an escalation” of the “Israeli conflict”. Palestinian”.

As I write this, al-Ahli Hospital has been bombed, killing hundreds of children, men and women who had sought shelter in the hospital premises. A few hours earlier, I had learned of the death of my friend Mohammed Mokhiemar, his wife Safaa and their three-month-old baby, Elyana.

They were killed after being evacuated with other families to the southern part of Gaza, in accordance with Israeli orders. Along with 70 other Palestinians, they were killed by Israeli airstrikes.

The only word that comes to mind that comes close to what I’m feeling right now is ” qahr ” in Arabic ; it’s not just about pain, anguish and anger. It is a feeling passed down from generation to generation, accumulating over 75 years of ethnic cleansing, massacres, injustice, oppression, colonization, occupation and apartheid. It is a feeling rooted in every Palestinian, with which we must live our entire lives.

It’s a feeling I was born with into a family of refugees from the Gaza Strip. My grandparents were from the village of Isdud (now Ashdod) and the village of Bayt Jirja, but they were forced to settle in the Jabalia refugee camp, about 20 km from home. Qahr is probably the first emotion I saw on my mother’s face as a baby – a young mother worried about her children surviving the Israeli assault on Gaza during the first Intifada.

QahrThis is what I felt when the Israelis first searched our house and arrested my father, who was subjected to repeated arbitrary detention without trial or charge. . QahrThis is what overwhelmed me when I saw Israeli soldiers opening fire on peaceful Palestinian protesters. Qahr was more powerful than the pain I felt when I was shot too.

Qhar defined every assault Israel has launched on Gaza, killing, mutilating and devastating my family, friends, neighbors and fellow Palestinians in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2020 and 2021.

Today, as I look at what is happening in my homeland, I feel the qahr, but also deep indignation and frustration. The reactions of your leaders, dear Europeans, to what is happening have once again revealed selective solidarity, moral failure and a dark double standard.

On October 11, when more than 1,000 Palestinians had already been killed by indiscriminate Israeli bombing of Gaza, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, offered unconditional support to Israel. “Europe stands with Israel. We fully support Israel’s right to defend itself,” she said, without mentioning the total blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza, cutting off electricity, water, food and medicine – which legal experts define it as a war crime.

A few days earlier, his colleague, Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, had declared: “The scale of terror and brutality against Israel and its people marks a turning point. We cannot continue as if nothing had happened,” announcing the suspension of all aid to the Palestinian people, in a clear act of collective punishment. The decision was reversed, but the damage was done: all Palestinians had been portrayed as “brutal terrorists.”

Of course, Europe has not reacted officially to Israeli officials’ comments calling Palestinians “animals” and “subhumans” and the genocidal implications that such language carries; which is hardly surprising, given that Israeli settler marches shouting “kill the Arabs” have never been condemned either.

But there has been a concerted effort to censor and prevent diaspora Palestinians and their European allies from mourning and showing solidarity with the people of Gaza, as several European states have imposed bans on demonstrations and that the police harassed and beat demonstrators

European politicians from across the political spectrum – including many liberals and greens – have joined the campaign of collective dehumanization of Palestinians. Yet these same people have been more than willing to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian occupation.

According to them, Ukrainians have the right to resist, not Palestinians; Ukrainians are “freedom fighters”, Palestinians are “terrorists”. The Ukrainian lives lost in indiscriminate bombing of civilian homes and infrastructure deserve to be mourned, while the Palestinian lives lost in the same circumstances are best ignored or, worse, justified as Israel exercising its ” right to defend oneself.” This European double standard is truly deadly.

The fact that European leaders and politicians are now taking the moral high ground and calling us Palestinians “brutal terrorists” is quite strong, especially considering the genesis of what is happening.

Let us remember that on your continent, dear Europeans, wild and brutal anti-Semitism has raged for centuries, resulting in bloody pogroms, massacres, expulsions, dispossessions and harassment. against European Jews. When a movement emerged within the Jewish community calling for a mass exodus to Palestine, European anti-Semites encouraged it.

One of them, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, signed a pledge in 1917 that the British government would support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, on the land of the population indigenous Palestinian. The Holocaust, the height of European murderous anti-Semitism, was followed by European countries’ unanimous support for the creation of Israel in a vote at the United Nations. More than half the world, still under colonial rule, was unable to vote.

Of course, the indigenous Palestinian population was not asked if they wanted to pay the price for European anti-Semitic brutality. The following year, Israeli militias ethnically cleansed more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland in what we call the Nakba, the catastrophe.

As the American writer James Baldwin aptly said in a 1979 article, reflecting on this reality, » The State of Israel was not created for the salvation of Jews; it was created for the salvation of Western interests… The Palestinians have been paying for more than thirty years for the British colonial policy of “divide and rule” and for Europe’s bad Christian conscience. »

This “guilty Christian conscience” has now existed for 75 years, dear Europeans. One wonders if you will ever feel guilty about your complicity in what is happening to us, the Palestinians.

It should not be difficult to take a critical look at the brutality that Palestinians have been subjected to and ask whether it is fair. It should not be difficult to open a history book, read and learn about what happened in Palestine and understand our struggle for self-determination and return. It should not be difficult to read the myriad of United Nations resolutions reaffirming our rights – to resist, to be freed from occupation, to return to our homeland.

It is shameful to talk about human rights, equality and democracy and not question the brutal policies of a country that practices colonization and apartheid.

In the first six days of the war, Israel dropped 6,000 bombs on the densely populated Gaza Strip. According to experts, this is equivalent to a quarter of an atomic bomb. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 3,000 people have been killed, including more than 1,000 children, but we do not know the real number of deaths because many people remain under the rubble with no one able to remove them. to go out.

Last week, Israel ordered more than 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate their homes amid continued bombardment. The images of Palestinians leaving their homes and making their way through the rubble towards an illusory safety reminded us of the Nakba. Among them is my family, who left with heavy hearts our partially damaged house, which they had spent their whole life building.

As I write these lines, I fear that at any moment I will receive a message announcing the death of my family: Ismail my father, Halima my mother, Mohammed my brother, Asmaa my sister-in-law, and my most beautiful nieces Elya (6 years) and Naya (2 months).

I want you to remember their names. I won’t let them become just numbers if they are killed.

I would not fear for their lives today, dear Europeans, if it had not been for your support, your silence and your complicity in Israeli crimes and the economic and political support that Israel receives from the European governments that you elected.

A day will come when Palestine will be liberated. It will be the day of reckoning. You will be asked what you were doing while Israeli occupation and apartheid were crushing Palestinians. What will you have to answer for your inaction at this time?

There is still time to spare yourself the shame of being on the wrong side of history. As bell hooks said, “solidarity is a verb”. Are you acting now to stop the genocide in Gaza?

Majed Abusalama is a doctoral student in the Palestine research group at the University of Tampere (Finland), political analyst and writer. He was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza and now lives in Berlin. He is co-founder of Palestine Speaks in Germany and Sumud – the Finnish Palestine Network.

Source: Al Jazeera

ED translation for the Palestine Media Agency