Mohammad Alam article in Counterpunch
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 13 12:22:12 MDT 2002
July 13, 2002
A Process of Dehumanization
Raping the Palestinians
by M. Junaid Alam
"You can forgive the man who robs you, but you can't forgive the man
you rob-in his haggard features you read your indictment and this
makes his face so repulsive that you must keep it under your heels
where you cannot see it."
--Eugene Debs, American Socialist, 1904.
Massacre, theft, torture, destruction, and ethnic cleansing: the
Palestinian native is well aware of his history-not an ancient history
recalled through myths and symbols, but a sharp, painful history
reinforced decade upon decade, day upon day, hour upon hour. It is not
the history of the comforting textbook held in one's hand, but of the
dagger thrust into one's side. The Palestinian cannot-no, dare
not-forget it, not if he wishes to stay alive at any rate. For if he
fails to remember that his home may come crashing over his head at the
whim of a bulldozer, that his crops may burn at the arrival of a
settler, that his life may be ended at the command of a soldier, he is
all but finished.
But this dreadful awareness has already become almost automatic,
reflexive: over fifty years of perpetual terror have permanently tensed
his muscles in preparation for the all-too-familiar sound of the tank
treads, the fighter jet, the impending explosion. He is accustomed to
the never-ending series of strangling blockades, checkpoints, beatings,
and fleeing. The Israeli colonizer has seen to these tasks meticulously.
So far, nothing seems remarkable.
And then suddenly, the oppressive silence. Silence over the destruction
of hundreds of Palestinian villages. Silence over the forced removal of
hundreds of thousands of civilians. Silence over the mass killings, the
tortures, the suffocation, growing and intensifying over a period of
over a half-century. In a word, silence over Palestinian suffering. But
then-cup your ear-one can soon hear faint murmurs, then clear voices,
and finally a loud chorus: it is not as expected. "Terrorists!
Murderers! Savages! Inhuman beasts!", cries the inflamed audience,
pointing squarely at the long-suffering, dispossessed native. A sole,
feeble voice inquires timidly, "What of the greater power, the settler,
the colonizer, the occupier?" As his voice quivers and trails off the
answer arrives like thunder: "Israel is defending itself! Defending
civilization! Defending democracy! Surrounded by barbarians and
irrational hatred!" Reality and truth have been stood on their
respective heads, and hatred is pleased to have its feet set firmly on
The complete castration of history has gone hand in hand with the utter
negation of Palestinian existence, not to speak of Palestinian
suffering. What has accompanied the robbery of the native is the denial
that it ever took place, or better yet, the denial that the native even
exists. And when this fails, it is admitted that robbery has indeed
taken place-with the Palestinian as the culprit. Here we no longer have
robbery but rape: the total dehumanization and degradation of an entire
people, their history, experience, and story of suffering slandered and
maligned. This is more than confiscation of property, land, or home; it
is the confiscation of the dignity and humanity of the chief victims of
modern colonialism. Let us see then, in its entirety, the false
framework in which the Palestinians have been framed up, and burst it
open at the seams.
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