FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Will Palestinians Become Human?

by AMER ZAHR

We Palestinians have been struggling for a long time.  I am not speaking of the struggle to be recognized as an independent state, or the struggle to be recognized in the United Nations, or even the struggle to be recognized in international courts.  I am speaking, rather, of the struggle to be recognized as human beings.

I am a comedian, and I travel to Israel and Palestine often to perform, visit, and conduct workshops.  I have, to this point, done all of my work for Palestinian audiences and participants.  My first job is to be funny.  But I also hope to show that Palestinians can laugh just like everyone else, especially at ourselves.  If I do my job well, maybe I can show that we can be funny too.

The legal decision handed down yesterday in Israel, absolving the government of any and all responsibility in the 2003 death of American Rachel Corrie in Gaza, confirmed something to the world that we Palestinians are already acutely aware of:  We, and those who dare to stand with us, are simply not human beings.

In the past few weeks, this phenomenon has become all too clear in Israel.  On August 16, a group of teenagers beat a Palestinian boy to near death in a Jerusalem square.  One of those arrested for that crime publicly declared his astonishment for being held accountable for beating an Arab.  On that same day, a taxi carrying a family of Palestinians was firebombed near Hebron in the southern West Bank.  Six Palestinians were injured in that attack.

Rachel Corrie was killed while she was decrying the demolition of homes in the Gaza Strip.  She was engaging in something that we Americans have been politically and socially bred to have pride in: non-violent protest.  She stood in front of a bulldozer, only to have the driver run her over, viewing her life as no more worthy than the owners of the house he was destroying.

It is no small thing to say that the state of Israel views Palestinians as subhuman.  I do not say it lightly.  I have traveled to Israel many times, encountering the various checkpoints, border crossings, and security personnel.  I am always shocked by how Palestinians deal with this everyday.  I am never shocked by, sadly, the subhuman manner in which Israel treats them.

The Qalandia checkpoint from Ramallah to Jerusalem consists of cages and steel revolvers.  Palestinians are let through at the whim of the Israeli soldiers manning their stations.  The checkpoint itself is filthy and unsanitary.  Arab towns inside Israel are many times rundown, almost completely neglected by the Israeli government, while Jewish towns are generously funded and kept up, resembling upscale American suburbs.  Studies have shown that the Israeli government spends three times as much on schools populated by Jewish students as it does on schools with Arab students.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to the Palestinian citizens of Israel as a “demographic threat.”  That remark, is, of course, utterly racist.  But one has to wonder how someone like Mr. Netanyahu, who graduated from both high school and college in America, could refer to a group of people that existed in that land for centuries before the establishment of Israel as a “demographic threat.”  The answer is simple: Palestinians are simply not human.

Newt Gingrich has called us “invented,” Barack Obama was attacked in 2008 for having a “Palestinian friend,” Ehud Barak referred to us as “crocodiles,” and former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who famously made peace with Egypt, said that Palestinians were “beasts.”  Why would we expect Israel to hold anyone responsible for killing a young woman foolish enough to protect the rights of these creatures?

Amer Zahr is a Palestinian-American residing in Dearborn.  He is a comedian and graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

OMING IN SEPTEMBER

A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch

Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …

Subscribe to CounterPunch Today to Reserve Your Copy

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail