Gideon Levy has written in Haaretz about the “absurd” situation whereby, in his words: “The leader of the Palestinian people is forced to apologize to the Jewish people” for saying something “anti-Semitic” about the Holocaust. According to Levy, “The one who was robbed apologizes to the robbers, the victim apologizes to the rapist, the dead to the killer.” His article was headed, “Dear Occupiers, sorry if we hurt your feelings” and he pointed out that, “You don’t have to be an admirer of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to understand the depths of the absurd. You don’t have to be an Israel hater to understand the extent of the chutzpah.”
His country, Israel, has never apologized for the Nakba, he noted, “not for the ethnic cleansing, not for the destruction of hundreds of villages and the exiling of hundreds of thousands of people from their land.” In fact, as this courageous journalist explained, “A nation that hasn’t stopped occupying, destroying and killing, and has never considered apologizing for anything – anything – gets its victims to apologize for one measly sentence by their leader.” Predictably, he said, the apology was not accepted. “After all, the occupiers are so sensitive – and their feelings, and only theirs must be taken into account.”
Israel didn’t apologize for the crimes of the occupation of 1967, added Levy, “or for the stealing of land and the construction of the settlements, or for the false arrests, the mass killing and the destruction of a nation’s life. Not one Israeli statesman today intends to do this as a necessary step toward a different future. But Abbas has to apologize, or [Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman and The New York Times will demand his head. In fact, they’ll demand it even after he apologizes.”
On the same day that Levy wrote his article, Haaretz published an editorial that demonstrates the extent of the humiliation of the Palestinians as well as the chutzpah — arrogance — that Levy mentioned. It told readers about Dareen Tatour, 36, who was arrested two and a half years ago after publishing a poem under the title “Resist my people, resist them”. Her indictment accused her of “publishing on various publications a call for violent acts or terrorism” on Facebook and YouTube, and “praising and identifying with acts of violence or terrorism.” This included, amongst other things, a short film showing masked individuals throwing rocks at the Israeli occupation forces, with the poem being recited in the background.
Tatour’s arrest is another type of state terrorism, as a result of which she has spent most of the past couple of years in prison and under house arrest. Of course, the Haaretz editorial was not empathizing with the Palestinian cause; it was written because what happened to the poet was blatantly unfair and the newspaper felt that it could not be silent in the face of such injustice. Tatour has said that her trial “ripped off the masks” and that now, “The whole world will hear what Israel’s democracy is. A democracy for Jews only.” As the writer of the Haaretz editorial puts it, “The Arabs in Israel are used to hearing cries of ‘death to the Arabs’, and a chance perusal of social media or the Knesset corridors is enough to see and hear the incitement – but no one is taken to court for that.”
There is little difference between the condemnation of Abbas and Tatour, as both of them are in cages. He is in Ramallah and she is in the village of Reina, near Nazareth. Both are victims, but they must apologize to their persecutors, or else.
Using such perverse logic, when we see the sand in Gaza turning red with the blood of people shot, killed and wounded by Israeli soldiers simply because they chose to protest against the injustice of being held them in their open-air cage, should the Palestinians apologise for “ruining” the Israeli celebration of Donald Trump moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem? Should they beg Israel’s pardon for spoiling their party with blood-soaked images of dead and wounded people who simply want to exercise their legitimate right to return to their occupied land?
What’s more, while Abbas has had to apologize to the Jewish people for “one measly sentence” should he not also consider apologizing to his own people, the Palestinians in Gaza, for the punitive measures that he has imposed on them? Should he apologize to his partners in the “sacred” security collaboration for Gaza’s “rebellion” and refusal to surrender to those who have stolen their land? Is it enough for him to declare a state of mourning for three days over the victims besieged by those closest to them, as well as the Israeli occupation?
If the “legitimacy leader” is serious about his state of mourning and grief for his people, he should apologize for suffocating them with his sanctions, and end immediately his contribution towards of the Israeli-led siege of his fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Top Photo | Relatives of a Palestinian man who was shot and killed by Israeli troops during the ongoing protest along the Gaza Strip border with Israel, carry his body to the family house during his funeral in Gaza City, April 14, 2018. (AP/Khalil Hamra)
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 17 may 2018.