Palestine, Israel: Mais Pourquoi la Différence Monsieur le President?

Israeli artillery firing into Gaza. Photograph Source: סמל גיא חסון / IDF Spokesperson’s Unit – CC BY-SA 3.0

For the last few days I’ve been stumped. Try as I could to transliterate the Arabic verb yishmat into English, I was unable to find the proper equivalent.  And because of the richness of Arabic connotative terminology, I was incapable of finding precise synonyms.

Suggestions from three Arabic-speaking sources as to how Yishmat, Yishmat fee (him), Yishmat feek (you) netted the following (albeit imprecise) approximate meanings: To malign someone; in retaliation; obsessive sad expectation; wishful harm to you; obsessive sad wish;  malign someone; celebrate your loss; equivalent to losing respect for someone and holding them up for shame.

To which I will add my own: Karma and, be careful what you might wish for. You might get it.

Since 2008 and for the last 13 years Israel has continued to violate international laws (as they’ve done since 1948), thumbs its nose at the UN and the world, and brutalizes Occupied Palestine and Gaza’s populations – with Putin-like brazen arrogance and impunity.

The 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021 heinous assaults on Gaza are no different from Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine. Killing and maiming thousands of people and the deliberate bombing and destruction of entire neighborhoods are war crimes. And this is where the similarities end. While the world has expressed its revulsion at Russia’s crimes, imposed myriad crippling sanctions, provided defensive weaponry, food, moral and political support to Ukraine, and while the media has presented a 24/7 wall-to-wall coverage of how Ukrainians are being brutalized, dispossessed, and forced to flee, Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and Gaza, and especially Gazans, living in destitute conditions and penned up in a tiny strip of land, are killed and maimed in the tens of thousands.

And no one pays attention – not even their greedy and corrupt so-called Arab brethren.

Seated in reclining beach chairs on Israel’s beaches,  Israeli citizens were treated to 3 Netanyahu and 1 Bennet heinous assaults on Gaza during which fresh Palestinian red meat was served up as a spectator sport. Of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, the crowds of equal male to female blood thirsty spectators, as they have always done, chanted “death to Arabs” and cheered as Israeli jets hailed bloody carnage on a starved, dispossessed, malnourished, and refugee captive citizenry.

And as high-rise buildings, mosques, hospitals, schools, public spaces, cemeteries, playgrounds and infrastructure (electric grids, water and water recycling plants) were toppled and leveled to rubble from incendiary and phosphorus bombs and other munitions provided by the 2 Bushes, Clinton, Obama, Trump,  “My name is Joe Biden, and I am a Zionist,” and a pliant and servile US Congress, the Palestinians were blamed for their misery. For after all, Israel was defending itself from the grave danger posed by an uncivilized, brown, fanatical, and backward Muslim terrorists.

Entire neighborhoods were pulverized to the ground, and entire families were butchered, many of them crushed under the weight of crumpled cold steel and flattened concrete.

Under the title “Gaza Lives Erased: Israel wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose,” on May 19, 2021, Israeli reporter Amira Hass wrote the following for the progressive Haaretz Israeli newspaper:

The numerous incidents of killing entire families in Israeli bombings in Gaza – Parents and children, babies, grandparents, siblings – attest that these were not mistakes. The bombings follow a decision from higher up, backed by the approval of military jurists. … the names of 12 families who were killed, each one at its home, each one in a single bombing. Since then, in one air raid before dawn on Sunday, which lasted 70 minutes and was directed at three houses on Al Wehda Street in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza, three families numbering 38 people in total were killed. Some of the bodies were found on Sunday morning. Palestinian rescue forces only managed to find the rest of the bodies and pull them out from the rubble only on Sunday evening.

Wiping out entire families in Israeli bombings was one of the characteristics of the war in 2014. In the roughly 50 days of the war then, UN figures say that 142 Palestinian families were erased (742 people in total). The numerous incidents then and today attest that these were not mistakes: and that the bombing of a house while all its residents are in it follows a decision from higher up, backed by the examination and approval of military jurists.

This craven and callous barbarity did not stop at exterminating civilians, but it was also on display as “the most moral army in the world” exacted viciously depraved attacks on Gaza’s zoo. I suppose that Palestinian zoo animals were not to be spared because of their ethnic and religious affinities. For sport, Israeli soldiers went about their African Safari heartless shooting of thirsty,  starving, and emaciated lions, tigers, and other defenseless members of God’s good creatures.

I don’t believe that the Yahweh intended to give cauterized souls such as these Israeli souls that kind of Genesis Dominion over Beasts.

And what did the world, and especially the US and NATO, do?

Nichego! Nichoho!!  Nada!!! Rien de tout !!!!

And where were the civilized voices of the western world’s humane societies? Are these miserable Palestinians animals, like their Palestinian owners, also creations of a lesser God?

And, while Ukrainians are able to escape as they find refuge in neighboring countries where they have been welcomed with open arms, no such refuge has been offered the 2 million Gazans living in the 14 x 28  square mile area akin to a fish bowl and an easy and open target for Israeli tanks, jets, drones, and naval bombardment.

To the callous world’s shame, Gaza is known as the world’s largest open-air prison. And to the civilized Western World’s shame only muted criticism has been reported or condemned at the xenophobic treatment of Roma Ukraine citizens, Asian and African nationals. In this war blue eyes and fair skin are one’s passport out of the crosshairs and into secure havens.

The Israelis have chosen a sinister nomenclature for their diabolically deranged sport of serial, seasonal attacks on Gaza.

Mowing the Grass, they call it.

If Israel, the 7th strongest and nuclear-armed military power of the world continues to mow the grass in Gaza and Occupied Palestine, then what shall we call Russia’s barbaric assault on Ukraine? The following is a syllogism for the pundits, the cowardly politicians, the one-sided media – and especially the history books.

Israel Mowing the Gaza Grass TO  Russia bush hogging, plowing, pulverizing Ukraine IS AS  Carnage, butchery, and bloodbath IS to the Fascist Russo-Israeli regimes.

With few exceptions the world not only condoned the Israeli carnage, but they supported it. The US, UK, and the puppet NATO foundlings blamed the Palestinians for their misery, with the US vetoing condemnatory UN resolutions and replenishing Israel’s arsenal to the tune of over 5 billion hard-earned US taxpayer dollars – per year.

And here is where Karma, be careful what you wish for,  losing respect for someone and holding up for shame, celebrating your loss come in.

In a recent article under the title Navigating Our Humanity: Lessons from Ukraine, Exeter University Professor, a “self-hating Jew” (yet truth and peace-loving Jew) and acclaimed author Ilan Pappé  (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine), made several poignant observations and comparisons between Russia’s assault on Ukraine and Israel’s assaults on Gaza. More specifically, he chided Zelensky’s 2021 support and defense of Israel’s serial horrific assault on the caged Gazans,  thus exposing Zelensky’s duplicitous double standard. Commenting on President Volodymyr Zelensky’s heartless, callous, and xenophobic 2021 post re. Israel’s carnage on Gaza, Pappé  penned an article under the title “Navigating Our Humanity: On the Four Lessons from Ukraine,”

The decision [justifying and defending Israel’s attack on Gaza] was initiated by the Ukrainian President; he had no sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian refugees, nor did he consider them to be victims of any crime. In his interviews after the last barbaric Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in May 2021, he stated that the only tragedy in Gaza was the one suffered by the Israelis.  If this is so, then it is only the Russians who suffer in the Ukraine. [emphasis mine]

But Zelensky is not alone. When it comes to Palestine, the hypocrisy reaches a new level. One empty high-rise hit in the Ukraine dominated the news and prompted deep analysis about human brutality, Putin and inhumanity. These bombings should be condemned, of course, but it seems that those leading the condemnation among world leaders were silent when Israel flattened the town of Jenin in 2000, the Al-Dahaya neighborhood in Beirut in 2006 and the city of Gaza in one brutal wave after the other, over the past fifteen years. No sanctions, whatsoever, were even discussed, let alone imposed, on Israel for its war crimes in 1948 and ever since. In fact, in most of the Western countries which are leading the sanctions against Russia today, even mentioning the possibility of imposing sanctions against Israel is illegal and framed as anti-Semitic.

Even when genuine human solidarity in the West is justly expressed with the Ukraine, we cannot overlook its racist context and Europe-centric bias. The massive solidarity of the West is reserved for whoever is willing to join its bloc and sphere of influence. This official empathy is nowhere to be found when similar, and worse, violence is directed against non-Europeans, in general, and towards the Palestinians, in particular. (Palestine Chronicle, March 3, 2022)

To his credit, Richard Boyd Barrett, an Irish Member of Parliament was the lone voice of conscience on the world stage; he shouted out and decried the double standard, “lashing out at [how countries] differed in [their] response to conflicts in Ukraine, Palestine.”

MP Barrett, it is only a matter of time before you will be smeared as an anti-Semite.

To which I will add my own: Karma. be careful what you might wish for, and celebrating your loss.

I do not wish to Ishmat feek (lose respect for someone and holding them up for shame) President Zelensky; nor do I want to admonish you to be careful for what you wish. And last, I would never stoop to use the term Karma. To do so would be abhorrent and repulsive.

But I do have a question, President Zelensky:

Mais pourquoi la différence monsieur le president?

On 12 May 2021, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky posted the following statement on Twitter: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged President Zelensky’s words of support by including the Ukrainian flag among the flags of the countries to which he expressed his gratitude in a Twitter post.

Other Ukrainian politicians uttered the following: “Today we are all Israelis, because now, unfortunately, innocent people are dying there. … We stand with the people of Israel!”  After raising the Israeli flag over city hall, the mayor of Dnipro stated that he always “called things by their names. Civilization versus barbarism. The twenty-first century versus the Middle Ages. An army that gives advance warning of its attacks versus missiles treacherously fired at civilians.”

Ukrainian politician Andriy Denysenko, voiced his support for Israel on Facebook by stating that  Israel “is the only outpost of the civilized world in the Middle East, the only democracy that is opposing extremists and totalitarians. And a wonderful example for Ukrainians on building a national state…Right now, when Israel is under attack, my support goes the IDF, and the Iron Dome over people’s heads. And, like it or not, the Jewish state has natural allies among Ukrainian patriots/Banderites,”

And last, “Two rallies featuring the flags of Ukraine and Israel took place in support of Israel, one of them on Mykhailivska Square, opposite Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Why, then, has Israel rebuffed Ukraine’s repeated requests for arms and assistance? And much to the American Administration’s consternation and annoyance, Israel is cozying up to Putin’s Russia. Is it because Israel, like Russia, is steeped in the debauchery of grabbing other people’s lands, at all costs?

As one Gaza Palestinian stated: “Just as Palestinians are in Israel’s crosshairs, today the people of Ukraine are in Russia’s crosshairs. They’ve become the archetypal Brutalized, Suffering Palestinians, and they deserve all the outpouring of love, empathy, and support.”

To which I fully agree.

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.