The Forgotten Faithful

By Samia Khoury
Monday, July 25, 2005

When I committed myself to writing a monthly column for The Witness back in the fall of 2001, I shared with my friend Cedar a deep sense of worry. How, I asked Cedar, will I be inspired to write regularly? She assured me then that the occupation and the Israeli measures would provide me with enough material. How right she was. Since then, she has seen each of my more than 30 articles before I have submitted them to The Witness.

But since writing my last article, “The Dough of Peace,” I started to realize that the gleam of hope that had always prevailed in my articles was fading away. The situation has become more hopeless than ever, and I was beginning to feel that it was meaningless to write anymore. All that needs to be written has been written; all that needs to be said has been said; and all that needs to be shown has been seen, “though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13). More and more, I began to realize that our president, Mr. Abbas, will need that magic wand that I wrote about in my February 2005 article.

All those handshakes and agreements in Sharm El-Sheikh were a repeat performance of past agreements which Israel did not honor. Even the period of calm which Mr. Abbas was able to get the Palestinian factions to abide by was continuously violated by the Israeli army. Provocation has been one of the Israeli military policies so that the Palestinians will be forced to react, and then the Israeli military forces can justify retaliating by whatever measures they see fit. And strangely enough, the media does not see the provocation; it simply sees Israel defending itself. So the shelling of civilian areas and demolishing of homes and targeted killings are simply “collateral damage” in the process of self-defense. How long will Israel be allowed to get away with all those atrocities?

What makes the whole situation even worse is that the USA and Britain refuse to make a link between the oppression of the Israeli occupation, the Iraqi war, the continued presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, and the rise of “terrorism.” So maybe it is the leaders of those countries that I need to address.

To Mr. George W. Bush: Have you been listening to the voices of the American mothers who are losing their sons for your war? Yes, Mr. Bush, it is your personal war, and that of Tony Blair. The masses from around the world who demonstrated against the war could not possibly have been that stupid or naïve to misinterpret your intentions. You better start planning to get those soldiers back home.

And if you are serious, Mr. Bush, about the establishment of a Palestinian state, why have you not forced Israel to abide by the United Nations resolutions? On the contrary, you have encouraged it to violate those resolutions with impunity, and allowed it to continue to create realities on the ground that are complicating the so-called peace efforts. You have turned a blind eye to the continuous expansion of the settlements ( all of which are illegal) and to the separation wall; that evil wall that has disrupted the lives of a whole population. It is ironic to hear Dr. Condoleezza Rice reiterating the stand of the U.S. regarding the settlements and the wall. What good is the stand if the USA is unable to force Israel to abide by it?

May I remind you that “The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the U.N. bodies and civil society each have their own responsibility in the aftermath of the ICJ [International Court of Justice] Advisory Opinion. This document serves as a timely reminder that international law requires implementation and that Israel is still being granted impunity by the international community.” Having one set of laws for the whole world and a special one for Israel, you have turned the world into a jungle because you set the model of “might is right” and encouraged your allies to do likewise. It is precisely because you have the power that we expect you to use it justly with wisdom and compassion.

To Mr. Tony Blair: I would like to begin by expressing my deep condolences to the families of the victims of this brutal and irresponsible act. But then when you allied yourself with the U.S. administration, Mr. Blair, you acted just as irresponsibly as Mr. Bush. You both went against the will of your peoples and waged a brutal war under false pretexts. You said then, “You can only imagine what would have happened if I’d ignored the intelligence and then something terrible had happened.”

Well, Mr. Blair, something terrible did happen now, but not because of weapons of mass destruction. It was because you went on board with Mr. Bush when you had no business doing so. What did you expect from desperate people? To be wiser than you, or act more responsibly?

Unfortunately, it is innocent people who will continue to suffer as a result of your double standards in dealing with issues of the same nature. The shelling of civilian homes in the Gaza strip by the Israeli air force is just as much an act of terrorism as the underground explosions in London. With your policies of supporting oppression and injustice, you have led more people to desperation. And you have made the world less safe by bringing an unpredictable war to every doorstep in your country.

If the mayor of London himself could see through the problem, why can’t you? At least listen to what he had to say, for it might help you shake off the unnecessary burden of allying yourself with the White House. Here are some excerpts of what Mr. Ken Livingtone, the mayor of London, said:

You’ve just had 80 years of Western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the Western need for oil. We’ve propped up unsavoury governments, we’ve overthrown ones we didn’t consider sympathetic.

He continued:

If, at the end of the First World War, we had done what we promised the Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this wouldn’t have arisen.

On Israel and Palestinians:

[T]hose governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy, as we have occasionally seen with the Israeli government bombing areas from which a terrorist group will have come, irrespective of the casualties it inflicts, women, children and men.

On occupation:

Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves.

However, it was refreshing to hear you at the G8 meeting sounding serious about finding a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. After all, your country is morally responsible for creating that problem. So we hope you will feel morally obliged to pursue justice and peace to solve the problem. But may I remind you, Mr. Blair, that this Holy Land is for two people of three religions, and not for two people and two religions, as you announced. For after all, this Holy Land is the cradle of Christianity, which the Western Christian world seems to have forgotten.

It is we who sent you the message of hope and peace — the good news which has been used and abused to justify all the oppression against the indigenous people of Palestine. And yes, it is we — the “forgotten faithful” — who are still holding the fort for the Christian world community, while struggling at the same time alongside our Muslim compatriots, for justice, peace and liberation.

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