YA MUSLIMEEN PLEASE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO MASJIDS IN PALESTINE
Christian & Jewish Beliefs Regarding The Return Of The Messiah and Plots Against Masjid Al-Aqsa
By Alia Amer
AlJumuah Vol 11 Issue 9 [Excerpted]
© al-Muntada al-Islami
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all believe in the coming of the leader of the great and final battle whom they all call the Messiah.
The Jews are looking forward to his coming because they claim he will bring about God’s kingdom on Earth, after the establishment of a Jewish nation in Palestine. They await a leader from among the children of Prophet Dawud, alayhes salam. According to Imam Ibnul Qayyim, when this leader “moves his lips in prayers all the nations will die.” They claim that he is the promised Messiah, and call him the ‘Prince of Peace’. Believing that he will make all mankind subservient to the state of Israel, they are preparing for his arrival by gathering in Palestine. According to their beliefs, he will come to rule the Earth and reside in Jerusalem, which he will take as his capital. The person they are waiting for is the Dajjal, whom the Christians call the Antichrist. This is why the majority of the Dajjal’s followers will be from the Jews.
The Christians and the Muslims agree that this promised Messiah leader is Eesa who will descend from heaven and return to Earth to lead the great battle. This battle will be led by Eesa against the Dajjal and his followers.
The Christians believe that before the second coming of Eesa, those who believe in Eesa as the son of God will experience ‘the rapture’ when they will be raised up into the heavens to meet their Lord, and thereby will be saved from the Antichrist. They base their belief on the corrupted text of the Bible: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ [i.e., the dead Christians] will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The rest of the people will be left to perish with the king of darkness, son of Satan.
“Then the king [Dajjal] shall do according to his own will: He shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done” (Daniel 11:36).
The Christians believe that the Armageddon will take place in a small valley called Meggido in Palestine. They claim that the battle which will be led by Eesa against the Dajjal and his followers, will be crowned by victory for the Christians and the complete destruction of the non-Christians who will all drown in a lake of fire burning with brimstone. This is based on the corrupted text of the Bible: “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses, and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people both free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast, the kings of the Earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse against his army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast, and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:17-21)
Why the Judeo-Christian Alliance in Palestine?
Allah the Exalted said: “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are but friends of one another” [5:51]. Although they differ in their theories of the outcome of al-Malhamah, the Jews and Christians have become allied against the Muslims in Palestine. Al-Aqsa masjid is located in Jerusalem and is the third holiest site for Muslims. According to the corrupted text of the Old Testament, all of the Jews must return to Palestine and establish a Temple in the exact location of al-Aqsa before the Messiah will come. It is from this perspective that both the Jews and the Christians agree on the establishment of the state of Israel, and the immigration of all the Jews to Palestine. The Christians believe that the Messiah will come at the end of the Gregorian millennium, and rule on Earth for one thousand years. Allah says: “Each [one of us, for the outcome of this] is waiting, so wait, and assuredly you shall know who are the travelers on the even path, and who is guided.” [20:135].
Al-Aqsa Masjid is in Danger
The Christians, specially the evangelicals, believe that Eesa will kill the Dajjal who would be a Jew as well as his followers. But they believe that all of the Jews will convert to Christianity after the defeat of the Dajjal. Therefore the Christians do not object to the gathering of the Jews in Jerusalem. The Jews, however, believe that their victory and the re-establishment of their state will not take place until the ‘Temple’ has been rebuilt. This temple will have to be built in the same spot on which al-Aqsa exists today. They are waiting for signs that cause this to happen but because they believe that they can (and should) hasten their occurrence, they would like very much see al-Aqsa masjid be destroyed sooner than later. They are, however, ready to rebuild the temple anytime now because they have taken all the necessary steps to prepare for that. Some are mentioned in the following:
‘The temple’ is an ancient name for the chosen place of worship before Islam. The temple that existed two millenniums ago in Jerusalem represented the steps of Al-Aqsa mosque before Islam. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was asked about the first masjid ever built. He said: “Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah),” and when asked about the second masjid, he said: “Al-masjid al-Aqsa,” then he added that between the two were forty years (Bukhari). Both were built by prophet Ibrahim, alayhes salaam. The first temple that was built was destroyed around 587 BC at the hands of the king of Babylon, and the second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and was not rebuilt since.
At the advent of Islam the great event of al-Israa (The night journey of the Prophet from Makkah to Jerusalem) was an indication that the area has become the heritage of the Muslims, and that such a sacred place should not stay at the hands of disbelievers. Therefore freeing the land from them was the Muslims’ immediate goal after uniting the Arabian Peninsula (hence the battle of Tabuk). Now after two thousand years of the destruction of the temple and 1344 years of the building of al-Aqsa mosque the Jews want to destroy the mosque and rebuild a third temple at its place. Unfortunately they have made great steps toward this goal:
Occupation of al-Quds by the Jews:
Al-Quds (Jerusalem), the town where al-Aqsa masjid was built, has been half eaten by the Jews when they annexed its Western part after the 1948 war. Now they have a plan (called Jerusalem 2000) to swallow the Eastern part, where Muslims are. First, Jewish settlers invaded the area which was 100% inhabited by Palestinians, to the point that the town became ‘a stronghold of the radical Jews’ (Newsweek 9/5/96). Their goal is to assure a strong Jewish majority in the Eastern town. Second, urban sprawl is allowed for the Jewish settlers all around the town to isolate it from the rest of the Palestinian land and hence its annexation would become easier.
Collecting holy stones to build the temple:
On 1989 the Jews claimed that they found a ‘holy’ stone weighing more than five tons which they put as the foundation stone for the third temple near al-Aqsa masjid. Since then, they went on a frenzy looking for holy stones everywhere, even uprooting the city’s pavements to look for them. The radical Jews prepared everything according to their rituals to build the temple. They brought stones from the Neguev desert to be cut and polished in Jerusalem. They will need six million stones. ‘It is no more a secret that the temple has been designed in the USA by American Jewish architects. The blueprints are at the disposition of the Israeli government.’ (France Agence Press, August 1997).
Other preparations are underway to revive the rituals that were practiced in the temple. The altar is now ready. Rabbis are preparing whole generations to attend to the execution of the rituals. All utensils, such as recipients and even prayer rugs that would be needed once the temple is built are now ready.
The menorah, the tabut, and the sacred cow:
For the Jews, the sacredness of the temple is not complete without the menorah, their religious symbol. The Jews believe that the menorah which was in the first temple still exists, and was saved from fire when this later was burned down, but it has been missed since then. They are incessantly looking for it. Meanwhile, a huge menorah costing three million dollars was made of gold to be put in the temple.
The Jews are also looking for the tabut (the Ark of the Covenant) a wooden box containing a remnant of what Musa and Harun left behind (Muslims believe that this tabut was given to the people of Israel as a sign of the kingship of Saul as stated in the Qur’an 2:248). They believe that exists buried under the rubbles of the first temple. To search for it, they are undertaking extensive excavations under al-Aqsa masjid!
In summary, the Jews have got everything ready before even the temple is built. But they cannot start building until they get a sign from God as they believe. This sign is a red cow that should fulfill the description mentioned in their book. This cow would be slaughtered and burned and its ashes would be used to ‘purify’ the people of Israel, for you see none can enter the temple without being purified, and the Jews believe that they all are impure now until they are cleaned by the cow’s remains! Well this cow they claim was born in 1997. “The ritual slaughter of the red cow will take place three years after its birth; the count down to the great return of the Jews to their original place of worship, and the glad tidings of he coming of the savior, the Messiah. The attempt to accomplish this return will lead to an unforgettable beginning of the third millennium.” (The Observer, 9/7/97) Excavations under the masjid
This perhaps is the most dangerous and most malicious plot to destroy the mosque. These excavations have been going on for decades and are still underway. The goal is: to empty the ground under the two mosques, al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, leaving them standing on hollow foundations so that they are vulnerable to collapse at the slightest natural or man-made tremor. Of course the Israeli government does not reveal this goal, but claims that the only purpose of the excavations is archeological; to find the remains of the second temple and other artifacts.
Digging tunnels under al-Aqsa:
These operations not only contribute to threatening the foundations of the mosque but also will facilitate and complement the project of the temple in future phases. In September 1996 a tunnel has been officially inaugurated, an indication that the steps to turn the mosque into a Jewish temple has officially started. Other tunnels are being dug under the masjid, which means that now the Jews share the area with the Muslims. These tunnels can be used temporarily for worship, while the Israeli government has put electronic screens inside them showing al-Quds (Jerusalem), and at the place of al-Aqsa masjid and the Dome of the Rock, the Jewish temple is shown surrounded by new buildings of Jewish architecture.
A PALESTINIAN VOICE: DEAR DIARY
Dheisheh Refugee Camp
Tuesday, October 24, 2000
Go away! Stop! Leave us alone! Cease your bombing….enough. How many more seconds, minutes, hours, days, nights and weeks do we have to endure your guns, your helicopters, your tanks, your tear gas, your bullets???? How many more people do you have to kill under the pretext of “defending your security”? What about our security? Who will protect us from your slaughter…..Who?
No one it seems. Absolutely no one. Not the international community, certainly not the United States, and most definitely not the Arab leaders.
Do you detect despair in my voice? Well do you? What do you expect? I’m tired of feeling like throwing up, tired of the headaches, tired of crying when my friends and neighbors talk about their pain, tired of being so darn tired all the time……tired of feeling so helpless.
It was those damn helicopters flying endlessly overhead the night before last that got me to be in the state I’ve been in these past two days. They were bombing Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and Aida refugee camp and they were flying so low……and then came the sound of the explosions. Was it 9 p.m. when I awoke to the sound of the shelling? Was I fast asleep to begin with? I don’t remember anything anymore.
As I lay in bed, trying not to think about the terrible pain I felt in my knees, I realized just how frightened I was. My heartbeat was racing as if I were running in a marathon……The helicopter felt like it was in the room with me….and I felt like I was in a game of Russian Roulette….what is their next target? Will heisheh be on their list tonight? Will our house get bombed? Should I get out of bed and try to hide somewhere? Where? I couldn’t think of a safe spot in the house. Perhaps standing next to those two book shelves in the study would be a good place. No windows near and perhaps the bombs won’t find me there. Or should I hide under the bed???
Silly thought. Only children hide under beds, and as a child in the 1967 War, I hid under the bed. I’m too old for that now…..and we’ve been through too many wars already. Enough…..enough world. Why don’t you step in and put an end….just end the occupation, that’s all that has to be done…..end the frigging occupation that won’t leave us alone…that chases us around more closely than our own shadows, relentlessly crowding in our little space….and killing us.
10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli army gunfire this last Friday, then five were killed on Saturday, then four on Sunday, and I don’t remember how many on Monday, and the number is 3 so far today. It is only around 10 p.m…the night, as they say, is still young. If you live under occupation in Palestine, it means that anything can happen.
Today can be the very last day of our lives. This is the persisting thought on everyone’s mind. We think about death, about dying, about not being alive, about getting killed, about ceasing to exist……and we think about it all the time.
Yesterday afternoon, I went with some Swedish journalists to Beit Jala to look at the homes that Israeli tanks had shelled the night before. As we stood out on the street and it started to rain, Mia urged me to seek shelter from the rain. I grinned idiotically and told her: But it is nice to feel the rain on my face. This could be the last time that I stand in the rain.
Everything we do each day feels like it is being done for the last time. It is a game of Russian Roulette I tell you!!!! Do you know how to play, or would you like me to show you how? Answer me……do you want me to show you how?
It is easy really. Oh yeah! so very easy. Ask the 3 and 2 year old Nazzal brothers in Beit Jala, and they’ll tell you how to play. They’ll tell you how they were in their bedroom playing with their toys one minute and the next minute, the room was wrecked by an Israeli shell. The bomb came right into the bedroom and exploded. Just like that. But the Nazzal brothers have a smart mommy who’s pretty good at the game of Russian Roulette. She intuitively took them out of the room a spilt second before the shell came tumbling in.
The foreign press descended on Beit Jala like kids descending on……oh what is it called? Why can’t I remember things anymore? I’m talking about that place in California …… what’s it called? Oh it comes to me now…..Disney Land. The press came to Beit Jala en masse just like kids going to Disney Land. They stuck their cameras, and mics, and note books in everyone’s face and asked: The Israelis say that they’ve been shelling Beit Jala because armed Palestinians fire shots at Gilo Settlement across the hill from in between the houses in Beit Jala. What is your reaction?
Excuse us…..say that again. Ask us again. What was your question?
How many Israeli civilians have been killed since the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada? how many Israeli civilians have been wounded? How many Israeli homes were shelled? How many Israeli civilians have been attacked by Palestinian missiles, rockets, shells, bullets?
How many? Answer me you objective people…you guys who are so interested in covering “both sides” of the story. For that’s what we are to you, another news story…..here today, gone tomorrow.
We are the nameless, faceless, ageless Arabs who are easy game…..like gazelles during hunting season. Oh boy! Is it that time of year again? But the world doesn’t shake from our death. No earthquakes….no threats to boycott Israel…..who would dare?
Oh dear me. Here I am being silly all over again. Who cares if the Israelis bomb the hell out of us Palestinian niggers. We deserve it, don’t we? This, after all, is what happens to those seeking freedom and independence……someone has to step in and grind their noses to the ground, show them who’s master…..
The problem is that we refuse to die. Even in our death, we are still alive. Mohammed and Rufaida and Mustafa and Mahmoud, and the thousands others who’ve died for the sake of Palestine in these past 52 years, all live on…..they live in the hearts and minds of their children and their grand children and their great grandchildren…..they live in the air, in the soil, on the trees, in the sky, in the clouds……and always in our hearts and minds.
Type my fingers, type. Think my brain,, think. Hurt my heart, hurt. Throw up my stomach, throw up. Throb my head, throb. And get used to it. This is only the beginning of more days and more weeks to come. They are definitely not done with us yet.
I cheat just now. I can’t stand keeping my ears out for the sound the helicopters and get tired of running to the window whenever I hear a sound. So I put the headphones on and play some gay music really loud……oh hello gay music! It has been a very long time. I’ve missed you. You resemble a normalcy I no longer know. You resemble what real life should be like but is no more.
A few songs is all I get to listen to before my husband taps me on the shoulder. I remove one ear phone from my ear and listen to what he has to say. They’re bombing al-Bireh next to amallah right now.
And here I thought he wanted to ask me if I wanted to go out to dinner, or go for a walk and sniff the roses, or catch a late night movie…….or go listen to some jazz!!! Ooops! Excuse the slip. For a moment, I forgot that I am in Palestine. We don’t do these kinds of stupid things here. Rather, we wait to see if we are going to die. That’s the sort of serious stuff we’re into. Bombing, shelling, more names of the dead….someone who’s 22 now, then someone who is 12; a human being from Gaza now, and then a human being from Tulkarem. Count Muna…..always count. Count so you don’t forget how to add the numbers. Soon you may not know what one plus one adds to…
Count and throw up…….throw up and count. Lose weight, that’s O.K. Lose your mind too if you dare…..this is just the beginning. They haven’t killed enough of us already. The blood of the dead and the wounded doesn’t even fill someone’s swimming pool yet. Not yet!
Tomorrow is another day. Will we wake up or won’t we? Will we live or won’t we? Will we lose an eye, an arm, a kidney? Will we be part of the survivors? Will we live to talk about it?
And if we do, will anyone listen……will they?
Hello……are you there? This is Palestine calling. P-A-L-E-S-T-I-N-E you people out there.
PALESTINE/ISRAEL: DO YOU KNOW YOUR ABC’S?
By Tzaporah Ryter
Tzaporah Ryter, an American Jewish woman, was living in the Palestinian West Bank during the current Intifada. The following 27 June 2001 letter to the editor of the Twin Cities music and events magazine, The Pulse, was written in response to a number of angry letters that had appeared in the paper, including one from the ADL. What was all the commotion about? A 23 May 2001 cover story, “Terror and Resistance: Just Another Day Under Israeli Occupation”, written by another resident of the Twin Cities who had just returned from Palestine, had brought the usual suspects out of the woodwork.
I just finished reading letters to the editor in response to Jennifer Gulbrandson’s cover story “Just Another Day Under Israeli Occupation.” Like some letter writers, “I am so upset I do not know where to start.” But I will try to be calm. Rather than escalate the debate, I mean to open it. I challenge and support the editor to keep this discussion ongoing, despite the backlash he is receiving.
I am a Jewish woman with family who lived in Haifa from 10 generations ago, prior to the Zionist project. I just returned from living in Ramallah, the West Bank, Occupied Palestine for eight months. I was involved there in nonviolent demonstrations and acts of grassroots international intervention and solidarity.
In the nonviolent demonstrations in which I participated — such as dismantling with our bare hands the roadblocks that prevent thousands of people from accessing vocation, trade, basic services and even emergency medical treatment — I cannot tell you how many people I saw shot, wounded and killed. I lost count.
After the first murder I witnessed of the man standing in front of me, I grew numb. Then it was just a stream of bodies — the guy with his head blown off, the little boys so small you don’t even need a stretcher for them, and old women — carried off into ambulances which every single time were shot at by the Israelis directly on the driver’s side of the windshield. Ambulances turned back at checkpoints.
Throughout this Intifada/Israeli Siege, what I witnessed was an overwhelmingly nonviolent struggle within civil society for justice. Every one of the endless demonstrations I attended began as marches with signs, banners and chants. The Israelis shot first every single time before any rocks were thrown. Rocks — thrown at armored jeeps — seldom hit fenders — stones that are a symbolic way of saying, “We will resist our oppression, even if you have a tank and I have a rock.”
In fact, the Israeli soldiers even shot at some of our demonstrations when we were singing “we shall overcome” and no stones were thrown even after the Israeli soldiers began and continued to shoot us! Every night I went to sleep to the sound of shells falling on the nearby school for blind children. I walked to do my shopping past 10-year-old boys with patches over their eyes. How come all of them in the eye? Accident? That’s quite a sharp-shooting accident.
The death toll for the Israelis is about 100, the death toll for the Palestinians about 600. Numbers cannot reflect the losses. The Palestinians also have about 20,000 wounded civilians, some in critical condition and many permanently disabled while hospitals are being attacked and medical clinics destroyed.
I had to walk through streets of crippled people, through the human traffic of funerals, which become demonstrations, which become more funerals, just to get a can of soda.
And that’s just Area A.
Area A is like a vacation. Don’t know what that is? Learn your ABCs. I’ll be happy to help you. Then maybe we can have a conversation. In Areas B and C — where the majority of people live in villages completely surrounded by clusters of Israeli settlements such as Ariel, which even within Barak’s generous offer were set to remain permanently, in order to maintain permanent military bases — life is much worse.
The children cannot breathe. The tear gas day and night being thrown at their windows has damaged their respiratory systems, maybe irrevocably at this point. I have even tried to scream at the soldiers pleading, “the children are being taken to the hospital.” But then they shot at me so I ran back inside the house I was visiting.
Night and day there are settlers attacking, backed up by soldiers, shooting into the villages and screaming “Death to the Arabs,” burning down property, even marching into schools in broad daylight and shooting the kids.
The soldiers shot my friend in the middle of the day while he was standing outside his house bringing the kids inside as the troops stomped through the village. They threw a stun grenade into his brother’s face and then pointed an M-16 at his head and threatened to shoot anyone who would try to bring my friend to an emergency medical vehicle. It took 30 minutes before he was permitted to be taken to a hospital. Now he is paralyzed.
This is only a partial list of what I have witnessed in the past eight months. What is happening is called ethnic cleansing. The death toll in baseball terms may be 100 to 600, but this isn’t baseball. The figures do not describe the conditions of life the Palestinians are living under, which is a fabric torn from the seams of hell that you cannot imagine without knowing it firsthand.
One side goes out dancing in nightclubs when it gets dark (a nightclub is right next to the Russian compound, where Palestinian detainees are being interrogated and tortured while listening to people laughing and drinking and dancing).
The other side sits in fear inside their homes or is under forced curfew. I have lived on both sides and I am not sure the realities are in the same universe.
This is an army — one of the most powerful in the world — against a civilian population. This Israeli army has an intact infrastructure and state and a government capable to give orders to kill — or not to kill.
The Palestinians do not have an intact infrastructure, state or government capable of telling anyone anything in particular. I will let you in on a little secret. Not even Chairman Arafat can stop suicide bombers. Only justice can.
And no, Mr. Baehr, of course it is not the collaborators that are killing the Israelis. (Although, as far as shots at night go toward the settlements and collaborators/Israelis doing it, I can tell you only one inside scoop: The Israeli settlers chartered several buses and brought children to recently stand on the roof of Gilo settlement to watch the shelling. The point is, they had to schedule the occurrence and charter the buses, get it? And if it was so dangerous to the Israelis, why were they standing on the roof at the time eating treats?)
People who have come to understand that violence is the only language the Israelis reward are killing the Israelis. Thus far they are absolutely correct. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the ceasefire after the suicide bomber at the mall. The Israelis are rewarding violence. Otherwise, why do they renew negotiations only after their own death toll is on the rise and why do they shoot nonviolent protestors?
Violence is less of a threat to Israel’s existence in its present racist and fascist form than nonviolent public demonstrations and freedom of expression and the struggle for the exposure of truth, liberation and democracy and the end to Zionist apartheid. Violence should not be rewarded. But unfortunately it is — and it will be that way indefinitely until the international community takes a stand and insists upon international protection for the Palestinian people.
Then, with the protection of the innocent, with freedom of expression, with the complete and total withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, can a discussion toward justice — toward what justice even means — begin.
I will let you in on another secret: the occupation is violence. There can be no negotiations under violence. When and if we finally reach it, it will be a long discussion — even prior to any successful or worthwhile negotiations — since currently even Israeli researchers are censored and taken to court for daring to publish their findings concerning what really did occur in the Palestinian massacres of 1947 and 1948. There is a lot to talk about before signing any deals or even bringing them to the table.
I hope that those who become defensive of Israel and upset can take a deep breath and consider, have they ever visited or lived in the West Bank or Gaza? Jennifer Gulbrandson has. I have. Rather than condemning Gulbrandson, we should all thank her for bringing back the truth and taking the effort to inform us and encourage us to think about it. I am sorry if this hurts some of those who feel for the Jewish people and for their difficult history.
They are my people, too. My journey to the truth was very painful. But my people have no right to kill the Palestinians, steal their land, destroy their communities and culture and leave them refugees from their homeland. My people have no right to disregard international law and U.N. resolutions.
Our history is not the fault of the Palestinians. But the Palestinian history of recent generations is the fault of my people. After nearly 6,000 years of experience and survival, I think that my people can find more creative and ultimately sustainable ways to survive than by becoming murderers and war criminals or by choosing to be those who defend or support them.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE UNDER THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION
By Khalid Amayreh
22 December, 2001
When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, I was nine years old. This means that for the past 34 years, I have beeen “living” in the “Israeli era.”
Three years before I was born, three of my four paternal uncles, Hussein 27, Mahmoud 25, and Yosef 23, were killed by Israeli soldiers. They were simple shepherds who were grazing their herds near the village of Al-burj near the so-called armistice line. With my three uncles, three other relatives, including a woman, were also shot dead.
The Israelis not only killed three men but confiscated the three hundred sheep upon which my family’s livelihood depended to a large extent. This calamity condemned us to a life of misery and poverty for many years to come. My family had to live in a cave for 22 years. The misery, the suffering, the abject-poverty were conspicuous in all aspects of our life. Until today, the Israeli government neither expressed guilt for the crime, nor compensated us for our stolen sheep. Of course, our loss didn’t stop at three uncles killed on one day and 300 sheep stolen by the Israeli government. Much more was taken away from us six years earlier, in 1948, our land in al-Za’ak, Um-Hartain, our home, everthing.
Under Jordan, the most important thing the Jordanian authorities cared about is loyalty for the king and his family. Connections with the King and his Mukhabarat (or intelligennce apparatus) meant that you’ve got done. Shouting “Ya’ish Jalaltil Malik” (long live the king), would give you an automatic certificate of good conduct.
The Jordanian regime never really made genuine efforts or preparations to repulse a possible Israeli onslaught. The most immediate priority for the Jordanian regime seemed to make sure that Palestinians didn’t possess firearms. A Palestinian would get a six-month prison sentence if a bullet cartridge was found in his possession. Like the Israelis would do later, the Jordanians enlisted the “makhatir” (clan notables) to inform on every gesture of opposition or dissatisfaction with the King’s rule within their respective areas. This cronyism gave rise to lots of corrupton, bribery, abuse, nepotism, hypocrisy and sycophancy. Those free-minded Palestinians who insisted on voicing their conscience were dumped into the notorious El-Jafer prison in eastern Jordan where they were often tortured to death. I know of at least one person in my town Dura who was tortured to death for his political views.
In 1967, I was ten years old. I can remember when we were told to raise the white flags when the Israeli army surrounded our village, Kharsa. We were told we would be shot and killed if we didn’t raise the white flag aloft. The Jordanian soldiers left in disgrace and headed eastward, some put on traditional women clothes to disguise themselves.
At the beginning, the Israelis launched what one may call a charm campaign. Some people prematurely began making positive remarks about the Israelis such as “Oh, they are better than the Jordanians, they are civilized!” But that transient feeling didn’t last long, as the army began using stringent measures against us.
Soon enough, the Israelis began confiscating the land and building settlements. They also would demolish homes as a reprisal for guerilla attacks. In our culture, if you want to express extreme ill-will toward somebody, you say “Yikhrib Beitak” may your home be destroyed.
The Israelis sought to take full advantage of this weak link in our social psychology. They demolished thousands of houses. The demolition has never ceased. Home demolition would leave deep psychological scars in peoples memories and hearts. Children would return from school only to see their homes being destroyed by bulldozers driven by soldiers wearing helmets with the star of David on them. That Star of David, which we are told is originally a religious symbol, symbolized hate and evil. Even today, I couldn’t imagin a more hateful sign.
Phobias, deep stress, neurosis, and depression are among the disorders children of demolished homes would suffer.
I personally witnessed several demolitions when I was 11. The operation would begin by declaring the village where the doomed house is located a closed military zone.
Then, all men from age 14 to age 70 are asked to assemble at the playground of the local school, with their heads bowed down. Very often the soldiers would shoot over peoples’ heads to terrorize them. Civility was always absent, and in these days, there was no Jazeera or CNN to cover Israel’s shameful acts, so they felt at liberty doing as they saw fit.
Then, the commanding officer would give the doomed family half an hour to get all their belongings out. (these days they don’t give even five minutes).
The scene of young children comforting younger children is devastating. The distraught housewive would struggle to get her utensils and whatever meager appliances out lest they be crushed. A child would hasten to get his favorite toy, or an enlarged picture of his late grandfather before it is too late. Then the commanding officer would give the go ahead and the house would become rubble.
Afterwards, the Red Cross would bring a tent, as a temporary shelter, or the tormented family would simply make an enclosure and sleep under the trees. These were indelible images of misery, an ugly testimony to Israel’s Nazi-like savagery.
Born into a very poor family, I started working in Beir Shiva when I was fourteen as a construction worker and then assistant plasterer (Maggish). I was able to learn Hebrew as well as the Moroccan dialect spoken by many Jews who had migrated from North Africa. Like Palestinians, most Moroccan Jews worked in the construction sector. Some were street sweepers as well.
On some occasions, the people I worked for would not give me my wages. I worked for such famous construction company as Rasco, Solel Bonei, Hevrat Ovdeim. I still retain my old Israeli work card.
We were continually humiliated at Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks at the A’rad intersections on the way to Beir Shiva. A Jewish officer would beat one of us savagely without a convincing reason. I made many Jewish friends then, but the psychological barrier remained intact. I did intermix with some Tunisian and Moroccan Jews in Arad, Beir Shiva and Dimona.
In 1974, I took part in anti-occupation demonstration in Dura (then I was an 11th grade high school student). The soldiers cornered me in one of the narrow streets of the small town, and beat me savagely on the head with the butts of thier rifles. I was nearly killed. I hated them, as I never posed a threat to their lives. They displayed no humanity and I was only shouting “Falastin Arabiyya” “Palestine is Arab.”
In 1975, after I passed the high school diploma exam, I went back to the construction sites in Beir Shiva. My family was too poor to send me to college. For sometime, the construction site in Beir sheva was my college. There I worked for a contractor named Shimon, a Tunisian Jew. It was hard and very hot, but I did manage to make enough money to travel to Amman. There I was able to get a student visa from the US embassy.
In July 1976, I traveled to the US with only 200 US dollars in my pocket. There I studied at Seminole and Oscar Rose Junior College in Oklahoma, then on to the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where I obtained a BA in journalism. Then in 1982, I obtained a Masters degree from the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale. I really wanted to be an engineer, but seeing how the Zionists were turning the black into white, the white into black, the big lie into a “truth” glorified by millions, I decided to switch to journalism.
I began writing letters to the editor, letters that would invite rabid and nervous replies from Zionist students on campus. Then the Zionists would make threats and use other intimidation tactics. A survivor of poverty, misery, and violence, I didn’t give a damn about their threats. I continued to cause them a lot of headaches till my very last day in the US.
I was very active in the student campus movement in the states. I was ambivalent about the US. On the one hand I was impressed by the democracy and freedom of speech, on the other I was frustrated by the coutnry’s wanton support of Israel’s oppressive policies. That feeling is still very much alive in me. Only the frustration and indignation have increased.
My letters to the editor can be found in such papers as “the Oklahoma Daily” and “the Daily Egyptians” under the name Khalid Suleiman. Occasionally, I used other names to elude the Zionists.
In 1983, I returned to the West Bank. However, there is a little story that happened to me on my way back to Hebron.
While travelling from Istanbul to Cairo, I thought I should travel directly to the Ben Gurion airport (without having to travel to Amman first as ) and then by car to the West Bank. The El AL officer at the Cairo Airport assured me that everything would be ok, and I would be able to travel to Hebron very smoothly. It was not.
When we landed at Ben Gurion, I was immediately arrested. The Shin Beth interrogated me for five hours on my studies back in the states, my friends, the associations I was affiliated with, etc.
Then, I was told that the Israeli interior minister of that time, Yosef Burg (father of present Knesset speaker Abraham Burg) issued an order barring my entry into the country (my country). The order stated that I should be deported back to Egypt within 24 hours.
To make things worse, the police confiscated my papers, including the vital green “travel permit” issued by the Israeli military government and renewed by the Israeli consulate in Dallas. Without the permit, I would not be able to return to Hebron. Was it that Burg wanted to banish me from my country for ever as had been done to millions of Palestinians?
It was nearly 7:00 pm, and the soldiers took me to the old British barracks where they told me to stay till the next morning. Three female soldiers stayed next to me, and they were making all sorts of jokes about me. They apparently didn’t know I knew Hebrew. I was given an orange, I didn’t eat it.
The next morning, airport officials forced me onto an Air Sinai plane and within two hourse I was in Cairo again.
There, like a professional hijacker, I slipped into the Jordanian Royal Airways hall, convinced a Palestinian clerk to let me in. He did. On my way to Amman from Cairo, I was overwhelmed by anxiety. The Israeli authorities had stamped my Jordanian passport at the Ben Gurion airoport, which meant that if the Jordanians found out that I had been in Tel Aviv, they most likely would throw me into jail for “dealing with the enemy.”
Luckily the Jordanian Passport official at Amman International airport was so busy that he didn’t examine the stamps on my passport. Good for me.
Then I faced the problem of my confiscated travel permit. I had to be smart, otherwise I would stay a refugee for the rest of my life.
So I went to to the Main office of the Red Cross in Amman and told them that I had lost my Israeli travel permit in New York. (a good lie). Well, the RC issued me a special VIP document in lieu of the one confiscated by the Israelis. Then I headed westward to the Allenby Bridge. There, luckily, I was admitted rather respectfully, apparently with the Israelis not aware of what had happened to me 48 hours earlier at Ben Gurion Airport.
In 1984, I began my journalistic career. Slowly, the Israeli would soon be getting fed up with my ideas and writings. Then the Mukhabarat (Shabak) would summon me once a month on the average. They would ask me to become a collaborator. I would tell them “do you think that somebody like me would become a collaborator?”
The way the Shabak (the Shin Beth) behaved convinced me that the Israeli state classified the Palestinians into two categories, collaborators and terrorists, nothing in between.
The palce where the interrogation took place was crowded with Palestinians being tortured. I would hear people screaming. I personally know at least six people who died of torture in one year. One of them, Abdul Samad Herezat, was a personal friend of mine. He died as a result of the “the shaking technique.”
The Israelis used a variety of torture methods against Palestinian inmates, including hooding, savage beating , electric shocks, sleep deprivation, suffocation, and many other forms of physical and pshchological pressure. Israeli doctors would help administer the torture. Sometimes, they would bring an inmates wife or sister and threaten to rape her in front of him. They would not rape the woman, but only threaten to do so in order to extract confessions from the inmate.
During the first intifada (1987-93), the Israeli army used really dirty tactics of collective punishment against the entire population. They would confine people inside their homes for 30 consecutive days, and if one ventured to get out, he would be shot dead.
It was like hibernation, and many ill people would succumb to their illnesses, being barred from leaving their homes. In Hebron, the cufew lasted for three months after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994. The were like 90 days in hell.
I remember that in March, 1994, Israeli president Ezer Weisman visited Hebron to offer condolences to the Palestinians. I was asked by my editor to cover the visit, which required that I apply for a travel permit at the Adorayem military camp in order to be able to travel the 10 kilometers to Hebron. I was stunned when the officer in command told me “sorry you can’t go.”
I retorted “but there are many journalists there.” Then he said “Yes, they are Jewish journalists, and you are not a Jew.”
Earlier, the Israeli shabak officer closed my AL-Qods press office in downtown Hebron and instructed all Arabic newspapers in the West Bank not to publish my reports. Indeed, my fax machine was confiscated and they would not give me a telephone line. Imagine I was only able to receive a telephone line in 1995 after the installement of the Palestinian Authority.
Today, I am confined to my home town of Dura, near Hebron. I can’t travel outside, I can’t travel aborad, I can’t even travel to the next village. The Israeli Shin Beth still controls our lives. Today a Shin Beth officer, named Captain Etan called me, asking me about the PA latest crackdown on Hamas. His meassage was “we are watching you.”
In short, the Israeli occupation is perpetual misery, torment, persecution, enslavement, and dehumanization. I feel frustrated because I can’t communicate to you the full extent of this enduring evil. It transcends reality.
WE ARE NOT DEAF, BUT WE CANNOT HEAR
By Alexandra Lopez-Pachecoin
March 09 2002
And now, now that my ears are screaming with voices of Palestinian despair, I can only scream in horror at our deafness and our silent complacent lips in North America – even now, as we witness this latest Israeli crime against humanity
The cry of Palestinian despair has not reached most North American ears. I sometimes wonder what the fathers and mothers of the more than 300 children who have been killed by Israeli forces in the last 17 months think of us North Americans.
Where I the mother of one of the three teenagers, Mohammad al-Madhoun, Mohammad Lubad and Ahmed Banat, who were tortured to death on December 30th by IDF soldiers, I am certain that the brutally silent response of most North Americans would have led me to the conclusion that American and Canadian parents lack human compassion for anyone who is not one of their own.
If I were one of the many pregnant women who lost their babies at Israeli checkpoints in the occupied territories at the hands of trigger-happy soldiers who refused to allow me to pass so I could reach the nearest hospital, and the loudest commentary I heard from the North American public was that Israel has every right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, I would probably want to scream in agony and hopelessness at North Americans, “Why? Why? Why? You do not defend your citizens from terrorism by terrorizing 3 million people.”
Friends in Palestine, we, in North America, are not heartless. Our ears our not deaf to your suffering. Or should I say, our ears would not be deaf to your suffering if your voice could reach us. But understand this – your voice of despair is so muffled or silenced by the time any report of the nightmare you are living through, and dying in, reaches us through our media that in essence we hear nothing, nothing at all.
When Israel sends tanks, F16 bombers and Apache helicopters to attack your homes, we do not hear of the sleepless nights you endure holding your frightened children in your arms as the war machines terrorize you.
We do not hear about the walls that crumble as a result of the shelling turning living rooms into tombs for the mother and child who huddled in a corner in fear.
We hear that Israel retaliated.
Sometimes we do hear of IDF soldiers entering your camps or neighbourhoods with tanks and bulldozers, demolishing your homes.
And we shudder until we read the Israeli explanation – that the demolitions are necessary for security reasons and that the demolished structures had been used as cover by Palestinian gunmen targeting Jewish settlers and soldiers.
In the end, the word that sticks in our minds is “gunmen,” which we associate with terrorists targeting innocent people and the good soldiers who protect them. We rarely hear, however, that some of those innocent people the soldiers are protecting are themselves extremists and terrorists who are guilty of indiscriminate destruction of Palestinian property, who shoot live ammunition at Palestinian homes, burn down Palestinian shops, stop cars and beat their Palestinian drivers, burn agricultural fields, uproot trees, open fire against Palestinians at random and along with the soldiers who protect them prevent ambulances from reaching wounded Palestinians.
Most of us don’t know about the Jewish settler Nachum Korman who clubbed 11-year-old Hilmi Shusha to death with a rifle butt. We do not hear that Korman was sentenced by Israeli courts to a mere 6 months of community service for murdering a Palestinian child.
Nor do we hear about Jewish settler Yoram Skolnik who in 1993 shot to death a Palestinian as he laid on the ground with his hands and legs bound.
We do not hear about the Palestinian women who have been beaten by settlers.
Mind you, we should know that the settlements and the occupation are both in violation of international law and that Israel’s violent actions in the occupied territories have been condemned by the United Nations many a time.
But many here don’t know, or if they do, they have forgotten. I can’t remember the last time I saw a mention of the UN resolutions in any mainstream news on Palestine or Israel. It’s all portrayed, you see, as an endless cycle of violence that, it would seem, is always started by a Palestinian attack on Israeli civilians, followed by an Israeli retaliation.
We do not hear of the daily asphyxiation you endure, imprisoned in your camps and neighbourhoods as if you were cattle in a coral, unable to take a simple trip to the doctor, or to attend university classes, or work, or visit an ailing relative in a nearby town.
We do not realize that the checkpoints and blockades are in essence hands around your necks squeezing the air of freedom from your lungs.
We do not hear of the beatings of Palestinians at checkpoints by Israeli soldiers.
We do not hear of your fear to go out in the streets and become one of the countless bystanders who is accidentally killed in one of Israel’s extra-judicial assassinations.
Or of the father driving home from work who is shot by Israeli soldiers because he is a Palestinian.
We do not hear of the growing number of orphans. Nor of the weeping mother begging soldiers to allow her to pass the checkpoint while her child dies in her arms.
We do not hear about the paramedics and ambulances that are riddled with Israeli bullets when they try to reach the wounded.
We do not hear of the children who seem to be wounded or killed almost on a daily basis.
Instead, we hear that Palestinian mothers teach their children hatred. We are constantly reminded that while Palestinian terrorists aim to kill innocents, all Palestinian innocents killed have been “unfortunate accidents”.
And we believe it – even when the rare report from one of our journalists reaches us that tells us in graphic detail how they witnessed soldiers aiming at innocents, at children; even when those innocents shot were our own journalists.
So when on March 7th an Israeli F16 dropped a bomb on the Palestinian Police headquarters compound in Gaza City – which exploded within 200 metres of 3,100 refugee children in three schools United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) schools – we accepted the proximity of the explosion to the children was an unfortunate accident.
Of course, we did not hear that the police headquarters had been reduced to rubble in five previous bombings. If we had, we might have wondered, as perhaps some of you did, if the strategic purpose of the bomb was to traumatize you and your children.
In fact, what we have not heard is that Israel has been long conducting a slow insidious attack on Palestinian civilians, one that has now exploded into a full-fledged war. What we do not hear is our own voices which deep down know that if we were denied basic human rights to citizenship, home, freedom, work, food and dignity, that if we and our relatives and friends had been hoarded into refugee camps like animals, butchered in massacres for decade after decade while the world remained passive, we too would be driven to despair.
As word arrives in my email box that the Israeli army has stepped up it ruthless war against Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing and wounding hundreds of men, women and children, I begin to share your despair.
Have the massacres begun? It would seem so.
I do not see retaliation, I see mothers holding back the terror while enveloping their crying and trembling children with their arms, as if somehow they could protect the young lives they so cherish.
I see the angst in the faces of fathers torn between staying with their families or joining the resistance to stop the invasion.
And I hear the chilling cry of the dying and wounded, the bleeding, the victims of this war on civilians.
Forgive me, my Palestinian friends, for as with most North Americans my ears did not hear your suffering and despair until I took a personal journey to reach out to the vast amount of documentation and reports available on websites, international online newspapers, books, human rights reports, email newsgroups, the UN…
The reasons for your despair have been well documented by international and independent organizations, individuals, and grassroots groups… And now, now that my ears are screaming with voices of Palestinian despair, I can only scream in horror at our deafness and our silent complacent lips in North America – even now, as we witness this latest Israeli crime against humanity.
May you hear my voice of despair as it joins yours, and may all the voices of people with conscience and humanity burst through the silence and demand an end to the occupation before it is too late.