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A Filipino for Palestine

gazaAs a Filipino, the struggle of Palestine for independence strongly resonates with me. Being used as a pawn by regional powers; the attempts to marginalize,ignore, and demonize them; and even their own tragically bad decisions–these all mirror the Philippine experience. After visiting both Palestine and Israel some years back and learning of the region’s tortured history, here is what Have to say:

Let’s be frank. Before, when Hamas was not in power, Israel refused to give the PLO under the late Nobel Peace laureate Yasser Arafat a fair deal. They wouldn’t even return land annexed after the Arab Israeli Wars, allow Palestinian refugees to return, or share Jerusalem as a capital, as they did before occupation.

Let’s be frank. If the US or any other country was invaded, occupied and blockaded for half a century, every peaceful and democratic means for liberty was defeated, and the use of conventional armies and weapons was denied,wouldn’t they also be so desperate as to turn to the most brutal of organizations and use the most extreme and desperate measures to fight for their freedom?

Let’s be frank. How can Palestine get a fair deal peacefully when one of the international arbiters, the United States, supplies weapons to Israel and sides with it unconditionally?

Let’s be frank. Terrorism is terrorism, whether you use US-supplied weapons or homemade rockets, whether you say, “oops, sorry, collateral damage” or not.

Let’s be frank. Before this war, there was no reason that Israel would give Palestine back its liberty peacefully on its own accord. They had no incentive to do so.

Let’s be frank. Without Hamas and other threats, Israel would have run out of reasons for getting the unconditional military, economic, and diplomatic support of the United States. Without Hamas, Israel runs out of excuses to continue land grabbing and blockade of Palestine. Without the constant threat of war, Israel loses its special status.

Let’s be frank. Using Hamas as an excuse for more land grabbing, apartheid,and occupation is like using the Ku Klux Klan as an excuse to bomb all of America. I don’t like Hamas. But that doesn’t excuse turning a blind eye to Palestinian suffering.

Let’s be frank. Not even Germany, despite perpetrating the Holocaust during the Second World War that murdered six million Jews, had its right to exist as a nation revoked or questioned. Not even the United States, despite being founded on the extermination and expulsion of Native Americans and the enslavement of African-Americans, had its right to exist as a nation revoked or questioned. No one has a right to question or deny Palestine’s right to nationhood, regardless of their tragically bad choices, such as choosing Hamas.

Let’s be frank. Creating a state whose identity is based on one religion or race and whose borders are defined by mythology is undemocratic in a multi ethnic world. If only the British colonizers, instead expelling indigenous Arabs to create a Jewish state after the Holocaust of the Second World War,created a nation that was inclusive of all religions and races, we wouldn’t have this war. A modern, peaceful, and democratic nation state defines itself with a shared culture and universal values that unite citizens regardless of race, religion, ideology, or gender.

Let’s be frank. The reason Christians outside the Middle East support Israelis because they want to ensure the fulfillment of their own end-time prophecy,their own mythology. Many of these supporters have yet to actually spend time in both Israel and Palestine. I’ve been there on the ground, Christians and Muslims are allies there. Every successful Palestinian business is blown up or bulldozed by Israelis, saying the building could be used by snipers. The best land is annexed for Jewish settlers who have never lived in Middle East before as long time Palestinian residents look on, still clutching their land titles.

Let’s be frank. The United States’ unconditional support for Israel is more a reflection of its own voter demographic–Jewish American and ChristianEvangelical voters and campaign donors are more numerous and far wealthier thanArab Americans. Morality has little to do with it. After all, US supports many other allies with alarming disregard for human rights (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,etc.) even as it demonizes it rivals for the same reasons (Iran, Syria, etc.)It only intervenes when profits are to be made or interests are threatened.

Let’s be frank. History and holy books cannot be used to justify this occupation and land grabbing. History books reveal that, besides the Hebrews,the Assyrians (Syria), Babylonians (Iraq), Romans (Italy), Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates (Saudi Arabia), Mamluks (Egypt), Ottomans (Turkey) and the British Empire (United Kingdom) all claimed and ruled present day Israel and Palestine. The holy books of all three Abrahamic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–have been used to justify the worst atrocities: the genocide, rape, and enslavement of Philistines, Canaanites, Midianites, etc.; the bloody Jihads; and the murderous Crusades. Studies show that indigenous Semites, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are genetically identical. After all, many of today’s Palestinian Muslims and Christians were once Jews before converting to the religion of past conquerors of the region. Ironically, it was the Jews who refused to convert and were displaced by the Diaspora throughout Europe and America who bear little resemblance to native Semites, culturally or otherwise,after generations of conversions, intermarriages, and assimilation.

Let’s be frank. The fact is that the Palestinians exist–despite every attempt to marginalize, ignore, demonize, and eradicate them–and they have aright to exist, as all people do. Like Israelis do.

Let me be clear: I am for a peaceful and democratic Palestine and Israel. I do not condone atrocities on either side. But these atrocities cannot justify injustices.

Supporters of Israel also have to consider how the occupation is corrupting Israel. It has made Israel occupiers, land grabbers, and human rights violators. Unconditional support isn’t friendship; it’s a license to bully. Areal friend tells someone when they are doing wrong. And yes, I consider myself a friend of both Palestine and Israel.


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DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.