To stop the violence in Israel-Palestine we have a two-fold front of increasing compassion and eliminating ignorance. So many false histories and misinformation is propagated between the peoples of Israel and Palestine from birth. This must stop. Right now I address you, Palestine, and I will first dispel three of your most egregious myths with the truth.
First, the Jewish Holocaust happened and it was one of the worst human catastrophes witnessed in recorded history. More than 6 million Jews were killed; millions more displaced from their homes; and the attempt was made to rid them and their culture from the earth. Fortunately, Abbas has acknowledged publicly the gravity of this stain on human history. But for Palestinian children in Gaza not to be taught that the Holocaust occurred, or that the Jews have no historical right to the land whatsoever is an ignorance which can only lead to the highest level of suffering.
Second, the Temple Mount, on the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, is absolutely sacred to the Jews. They are not lying about this to control you. There is far more archeological and historical evidence of it being sacred to the Jews than of any other religion, including Islam, and this is fact.
Third, the Israelis do NOT have countries to go home to. I’ve heard this a few times and even once is too many. “The Jews need to go back to the countries they came from!” Because of the Holocaust (which did happen) there are no empty houses waiting for the Israelis in their country of origin (which, for many non-sabra Israelis were Arab countries!). But at this point more than 70% of Israelis were born in Israel-Palestine! Since that time more and more Palestinians have never seen or set foot in Palestine, and more and more Israelis have. This is not about land. Maybe it was at first, even up to the Six-Day War perhaps, but now it’s about people (and let’s be honest, it was always ultimately about people).
I’ve heard the analogy of “if someone came into your house and kicked you out, you would do everything you could to get your house back!” Except in this case, we’re talking about my grandparents’ former house. And one is dead. And the other is incredibly busy and involved with the now very large family of offspring and grandchildren, most of which live close together in Jeddah. The children are growing up speaking Saudi Arabic, not Palestinian Arabic. No, my grandparents should not have been kicked out of their home, and it is very sad that they were. But that was the fault of the European governments: NOT this Israeli family. And you expect me to kick two mirrored generations of Israelis who’ve grown up, lived, loved, died, and spoken the native Hebrew (not a foreign dialect) in my grandparents’ former house out of their home when my grandmother has a home in Saudi?
I’m an American-Palestinian. I was born in America and didn’t even start learning Arabic till i was 16. My friends are American. My schools, my mother, the places i’ve lived, and probably the place my grave will rest. I don’t want to live in Palestine. But i am Palestinian too. I love my people’s culture, the language, and especially, the history. It is a depth of history stemming back, in terms of the people, to the trading Philistines and around 2000 BC the Canaanites. Yes, the very Canaanites the Jews came from. Go back even further and you find the first known human city of Jericho on this land.
Palestine does not belong to one religion, one people, one culture, or even one history.
Throughout the length of this history this land has known little but war and occupation of various peoples and governments. It has known lingua franca after lingua franca: Akkadian, Hebrew, Phonecian, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Arabic, and others. Yet, through it all, it remained a sacred center of pluralism. Palestine is not in the land, it’s in the people and the legacy of history they carry with them. And in the people lies a beautiful, rich history of pluralism and diversity! If Palestine does not embrace its diversity, it will have an even harder time embracing peace and wisdom, and our people will continue to suffer. We have the choice to make a Palestine worthy of the name by the quality of our actions, words, and thoughts, or we don’t deserve to have it at all.
Palestine! It’s time we embraced compassion: The core of every religion which makes us up. If we do not, we will know only suffering. It is compassion to recognize that kicking a Jewish family out of the former home of my grandparents means leaving them homeless. I would rather give my house to them than leave them homeless, whether i share it with them or not. I will not let a child of Canaan die. I will not let any child die. But the Israelis and the Palestinians are siblings of Canaan. Even genetic analysis has proven we’re the same people! So we are fighting and killing our own nieces and nephews. Genetically speaking, killing an Israeli and a Palestinian is no different! And ethically, religiously, there is no comparing of any child’s life to another child’s life. Stop acting like animals, brothers and sisters.
Israel-Palestine should, in my mind, be a sacred center of the world like it’s meant to be. Diversity of peoples, religions, and cultures should be embraced. Compassion should be the new overarching policy. There should be inter-marrying between the peoples of these two cultures. Peace should reign over the land of Canaan again. And hell, let’s just call it Canaan for that matter. And its people Canaanites. It’s what we are anyway.
This is obviously a utopian vision, which is sad, because it really shouldn’t be. The conflict makes me angry, but not for the same reasons it usually makes others angry. The hard-headedness, the corruption, the lack of compassion and humanity is disgusting, and i often don’t want to associate with my people on this basis. It’s on both sides. Stop pointing fingers. Stop being so hardheaded. Please! For the love of all that is holy and sacred in this world: Stop acting like savage animals.
A Palestinian who embraces violence is not my brother. He is not my friend. She is not my ally. They who embrace violence in my mind become the enemy here. Would anyone of you take the life of a small Israeli child for a bit of mere land or a small concrete house? How dare one even consider such a thing! And as long as any such violence comes from the Palestinians, we lose much support from the world. Shooting rockets into Israel from Gaza hurts Palestine more than it hurts Israel. And I know you’re angry about a lot of what Israel is doing, like the building of settlements in the West Bank, and the treatment of Palestinians living in Israel, and the prevention of freedom to trade and live as normal, and the occasional bouts of violence from Israel, but you will never win through violence. Violence only undermines the Palestinian cause in every way possible. If you want to be Palestinian stop perpetuating violence. Stop perpetuating ignorance. Stop perpetuating suffering.
We will suffer as a people as we have, this much is certain. But the most powerful response is compassion and non-violence. No, the Israelis have no right to be violent either. No, they have no right to break UN resolutions or human rights protocols. No, they have no right to deny Muslims access to Al-Aqsa. But Muslims too, have no right to deny Jews or any non-Muslims access to the Temple Mount.
As hard as it is to let go of nationalism – a force often more powerful than religion in driving men and women – i ask my people to do so, at least a little, and to see themselves and the Israelis as the very same Canaanites. We are a single people of differing cultures and if we wish our people to live without suffering, the placing of more value on land than a human life must cease. As long as land means more than the life of a person, there is no Palestine or Israel or Canaan: Just hell in a formerly sacred center of the world.
Please wake up, my people!
Jacob Ibrahim Abuhamada