The Upside Down World

As I had written earlier, Christmas 2022 was very special for our family, especially that my youngest grandson Shadi, was with us, after  he had  spent  over a month in an Israeli detention center and  under difficult conditions.   Furthermore, my oldest grandson Omar, who is a designer, was with us also this Christmas after spending sometime in the UK and the USA.  We missed him last Christmas as he always put up a very original Christmas tree with bare leaves but beautifully decorated.  So, this Christmas, instead of putting it in a pot, he used a hook that was in the ceiling to hang it upside down.  He got my approval as I told him that it will certainly be in style with everything else being upside down these days.  Be it logic, morals, values, politics, religion, or whatever.

The moment I mentioned “upside down,” I recalled that many years ago, and in the early days of “Sabeel,” the Palestinian Liberation Theology movement, Rev. Naim Ateek led us in reading “The Upside Kingdom” by Donald Kraybill.

Each one of us would take turns every week in presenting a chapter.   It was one of the most meaningful books I had read, especially since it related to our world nowadays, and more so now than ever.   Donald B. Kraybill, a Mennonite himself,  says: “ Social, religious, and economic practices of the dominant culture usually favor the rich, powerful, prestigious.  God, on the other hand, favors those who suffer at society’s margins and fall between the cracks.”

Brilliantly written and expressed, especially  when  we see how the injustice and the double standards by which the powerful deal with issues of the same nature are so glaring.  We have seen it during this past year in the war between Russia and Ukraine.  Irrespective of the provocation of Russia by both the US and Europe to get Ukraine to join NATO, Russia fell in the trap and invaded Ukraine, thus creating a big refugee problem, over and above a human disaster which gained the sympathy of the USA and the European Union, and whose financial and moral support have not stopped since that invasion. Two days ago, I watched the president of the European Union, Ursula Von der Leyen accompanied by the College of Commissioners visiting   the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.  With warm greetings, a big smile, open arms and a kiss, she assured him of The EU’s continued support which had started from day one of the invasion, and rightly so, since the international law stipulated the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by an act of war.   But when I heard her emphasize their support because “they stand up for the fundamental rights and respect of international law”, I could not help but wonder, whether we Palestinians were the children of a lesser God (As Ambassador Afif Safieh  had put it), that the European Union could not get itself to condemn one act of Israeli violence against the Palestinians who were dispossessed since 1948, and had been living under Israeli occupation since 1967.  The most EU  could do when the schools that have been built in the Palestinian Territories with the financial support of the European Commission were demolished by the Israeli forces, was to express its CONCERN.  That certainly does not reflect at all a stand for the fundamental rights and respect of international law.

When will this hypocrisy come to an end? Palestinians have been killed on an average of one or two every day.  And after the massacre of Jenin when 10 were killed in one day, there was no world reaction until a lone Palestinian went on a shooting spree in the settlement of Neve Yaacov north of Jerusalem, killing seven Israelis.  That event coincided  with the visit  of USA secretary of State Blinken to the region assuring all parties the support of the USA for a two-state solution.  Had the USA been serious about that, it would have done something about it and would have imposed sanctions on Israel for its violations of the terms of the Peace process and the two-state solution.  But once again it is words, words, words, that will lead us to nowhere as long as Israel has been able to get away with all the violations of human rights and international law. One cannot but pose the question: When will the USA and the Europeans play their role seriously and fairly so that the United Nations can truly and honestly assume its role in bringing about justice and peace to our region and in other places of this troubled world?

Samia Nasir Khoury is a Jerusalemite Palestinian author whose life has been greatly affected by the Nakba and Israel’s occupation of Palestine. She is the author of Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope and blogs on reflectionsfrompalestine