As the Iraqi people find themselves in the eye of an American-made hurricane, Palestine seems suddenly very far away from the action and the discussion — which, in turn, is far from the reality of the situation.
The Iraqi people are now suffering what Palestinians have been bearing for far too long — dehumanization. No matter what President Bush wants to say about this war against Saddam Hussein and his regime, any logical person knows who is paying the greatest price for this war: the Iraqi people — as they have since the morally appalling sanctions began.
For some reason, much of the American public and the Bush administration refuses to see both the Iraqi and Palestinian people for what they are: not terrorists, but victims of what the West calls justice. Palestine was given to the Zionists to pay for crimes — not for any crimes the Palestinians or even Arabs committed against the Jewish people, but of Europe’s own disgusting anti-Semitism.
Iraq is supposedly being liberated (or rather, utterly destroyed, to be built again the way America wants it) because Saddam Hussein failed to comply with international law. And it is this concept of “justice” for which both the Iraqi and Palestinian populations pay dearly.
It’s easy for one to dehumanize a group of people when one has the resources — the media and the money. The American media shows nothing of the realities of war. We are fed images of America “winning” the war. We are not shown what this war means to the people it affects most — that is, the Iraqi people.
This war is not feeding the already starving Iraqi children. This war is not cleaning their water. This war is not building their infrastructure. A 1998 survey by Unicef found that four out of five primary-school children feared losing a family member or a friend to bombing. And these are the children the Bush administration feels should endure an American occupation and follow in the American-way.
A Palestinian does not need to be shown what war looks like. Palestinians know too well the reality of occupation. Occupation means frustration — frustration because they have been made homeless for the third time with an American-bought bulldozer, frustration because their very livelihood lies in the hands of 18-year-old Israel Defense Force soldiers with machine guns, frustration because their children can’t go to school, frustration because they have been living in their own land, where they are no longer treated as human beings but as “dangerous” sub-humans.
Not only are there connections, there are dangerous implications for Palestinians because of the war against Iraq. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been patiently and happily waiting for the day that America would go to war with Iraq, and the Zionist lobby has been urging for it. Now, why is this?
The answer is quite simple. The unjust war in Iraq gives Israel the go-ahead. America is setting a much-needed precedent for Sharon to do what he wants to the Palestinian people in the name of defending his state from terrorism, which is very like Bush’s pretense. There has been actual talk of “transfer” of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Transfer is the equivalent of ethnic cleansing, and three Israeli political parties in Israel (Beytenu, Moledet, Tkuma) have actually put it on their platform as a solution. More than 40 percent of the Israeli population agrees with the idea. Many fear that the fog of war America has created in Iraq will give Israel an opportunity for which many have been waiting.
America’s targeting of Saddam Hussein is crucial as well. This will surely give Israel reason to destroy any Palestinian leader of its choosing under the idea of regime change.
The American public must wake up and realize that lives are being destroyed in their name, both in Iraq and in Palestine, and that those lives are not of terrorists or even soldiers, but equally valuable human life.
Renee Medved (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a sophomore majoring in international studies and political science.