By George Polley
You live in a home your family has lived in for generations. On the edge of the village you own a plot of land on which you raise olives and grow vegetables to feed your family. You remember your grandfather working that land, and smile. He was a good man who loved his family and you miss him.
One day you return from your olive grove carrying a sack filled with olives that your wife will press. You have saved out a couple dozen of the best for your wife and children to eat in the evening, before retiring for the night. As you turn the corner and start toward your home you notice the family gathered in front of it with all of their belongings surrounding them. They are weeping. Nearby is a contingent of soldiers holding guns.
“What is going on?” you shout. One of the men tells you to shut up. Walking up to you, he takes the sack of olives and tosses them to one of his compatriots. The ones in your hand he eats.
“Get in the truck!” he orders as his companions herd your family towards a large dun-colored truck in which a few of your neighbors are huddled. Pointing his gun at you he prods you into the truck beside your wife, who is beyond weeping.
In a few moments the truck starts up and you are rolling through the countryside toward a destination you know nothing of, except by reputation, which is not good.
This could be Germany, Poland, Italy, France or Austria during Hitler’s massive eradication campaign against Europe’s Jews, but it is not. Hitler called it “the final solution” of Europe’s “Jewish problem”. It was one of history’s most hideous crimes against humanity.
The scene described above did not happen in Europe. It happened in Palestine. According to UNRWA statistics, over 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee or were removed from their homes in 1947-48. Ethnic cleansing also took place in 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza and 350,000 were forced out, expelled or left because of fear. Since then a form of slow ethnic cleansing occurs whenever Palestinian neighborhoods, villages and farms are claimed for Jewish settlers who want them, no questions asked and no apologies offered.
Picture yourself in that situation, a refugee in a land that has been yours for generations. Suddenly you are a nonperson, a nonentity, a stigma. What would it be like for you to experience this? How does it happen that for over 60 years this same scene has been repeated time after time, its perpetrators allowed to get away with it? A stranger in your own land, you walk past what used to be your property and your great-great-grandfather’s property. Someone else is living there, someone who one day claimed it as theirs, though they are the first in their family to live in or anywhere near it.
You look around you and wherever you see your people, you see poverty and chaos. It makes you angry. But if you express your anger, especially if you fight back in any way, those who have power attack you with every weapon at their disposal. You have lost family members in attacks, some of them children.
Year in and year out you are promised a land and homes of your own, but the promise always contains the following lie: others are allowed to occupy your land for themselves as you are pushed farther and farther to the periphery. Your crime? You are not one of them.
I have to ask: How is this permitted to go on for over sixty-two years while so-called moral nations do nothing? They do nothing because those who persecute you are more useful to them than you are. Isn’t that the way it seems? They claim to be for human rights, but their actions have belied their words from the beginning. Who can trust them? I, for one, no longer do.
Is this, then, Israel’s “Final Solution” to what they see as “the Palestinian problem”? Have they taken a page from Hitler’s playbook and adapted it to their situation, leaving you their perpetual victim because you are not one of them? If it looks like it and feels like it, then perhaps we need to begin calling it for what it is – the malignant offspring of Hitler’s horror used by the people who were its first victims.
And we need to tell Barack Obama to either give George Mitchell some real teeth, or bring him home. We are all on to the charade.
– George Polley is a retired psychiatric social worker and writer. Originally from Seattle, WA (USA), he lives and writes in Sapporo, Japan. Recent books are: “The Old Man and the Monkey” and “Grandfather and the Raven”, from Night Publishing (UK). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.geogepolleyauthor.com.