By Khalil Nakhleh
Since the appearance of signs of an eminent attack on Gaza appeared in the horizon, with the assassination of Ahmad al-Ja’bari, Hamas’s military commander, on the 14th of November, I was triggered to commence following these rapidly moving developments from afar. I attempted to catch glimpses of what’s happening, albeit not regularly, from my son’s house in San Francisco where my wife and I were for his wedding. But since the evening of Friday, the 16th, where the Israeli military onslaught on Gaza became very transparent, real and extremely savage, and where the resolve and determination of Palestinian resistance to counter this attack by all means became unmistakably brazen, I started following it closely, from our house in Ramallah, with a mixed feeling of sadness and national pride. My wife was mesmerized in front of Press TV (Iranian channel) following the attack, minute by minute, in English, while I was, in another side of the house, equally mesmerized in front of another TV, following developments in Hebrew and Arabic. For the Hebrew, I switched constantly between Israeli channels 2 and 10. And for the Arabic, I rotated between Al-Quds (from Jerusalem) and Al-Manar (from Beirut), and in few instances I turned to the official Palestine channel (from Ramallah). My wife and I maintained this rhythm until midnight of Wednesday, the 20th, or after the declaration of “cease fire”, the evident and firm steadfastness of the resisting groups, and the conclusion of the press conference of Khaled Mash’al (head of Hamas) and Abdallah Shallah (head of al-Jihad al-Islami), and the subsequent commentary on it, from Cairo.
1. While I was following and watching these horrendous developments, I was overcome by a heavy load of mixed and ambiguous feelings of, on the one hand, deep pain, anguish and frustration, and, on the other, resurrected feeling of a heightened sense of national pride. The pain was generated by the killing of innocent families and the destruction of their homes on top of them; the destruction of civil and public institutions; the loss of tranquility and security to the average Palestinian in the Gaza prison; and the deep-seated fear to what may happen to my people in Gaza in the coming future as a price for the obvious political plans, conspiracies and machinations in which “political Islam”, both old and new, American and Western colonial empires, both old and new, and the Petro Gulf money coalesced, with Zionist-Jewish Israel as the ultimate streamlining force.
2. As a Palestinian, I was overcome by a surge of renewed pride and admiration for our Palestinian resistance groups who responded with persistence, determination and innovation to the savage attacks by the enemy. I hoped that their subsequent actions of resisting the enemy will nurture and maintain the feeling of pride that engulfed me, as I watched events unfold during the last few days.
3. I forced myself consciously to follow the coverage of the active stages of this attack through the Israeli-Hebrew TV channels, in spite of the psychological pressure which I anticipated engulfing me. By doing so, I was obliged to listen to reports and embellished narratives that focused on the use of concepts and terminologies which are in direct contradiction with my being and thinking, and which shook me from inside. For long continuous hours, I was bombarded by quick and off the cuff “analyses” and commentaries about “Palestinian terror”, “terrorist organizations wanting to destroy us”, “decimation of Hamas”, “persistence in hitting them over the head so they don’t recover ever again”, “destruction of their vital and governmental institutions”, etc.
4. Not a word in these reports and “analyses”, which I sat (and suffered) through, about the recent historical context; the reasons of the ongoing conflict, etc. The analysis was neither deep nor critical. What became crystal clear is that the “analysts” and commentators commissioned, or employed by these channels performed a flagrant role in legitimizing, and marketing the official spin of the Israeli government, without batting an eye!
5. Some interviews were held with mayors or heads of local councils of the localities and towns targeted by the rockets of the resistance, namely Jerusalem, Bir al-Sabe’, Sderot and Asqalan. The message conveyed through these interviews to the political-military decision makers: “you must restore quiet to these areas by all means possible; do whatever is necessary …”. These interviews were used and highlighted by the correspondents and analysts of these channels to keep the subject of ground invasion high up on the public agenda.
6. There was much reiterated talk about Jewish pride and smugness around the “Zionist-Jewish inventiveness” that created (?) the “genius of the amazing steel dome”, which circumvented the possible death of hundreds of Jews … The talk and commentary about the “effectiveness of the steal dome” was overwhelmed by some kind of a religious aura of piety, as if what was discussed was holy! (I could not help but being reminded of my visit to my first Arab country—Libya—as a member of an official delegation of Palestinian university graduates, to help them commemorate the tenth anniversary of the revolution. After having to sit through watching a military parade and the huge “trans-border missiles”, I asked in jest our companion (mukhabarat), “where are these missiles targeting?”. Our companion became incensed. “You may joke about the ‘brother Colonel’ (Qadhaffi), but you may not joke about our missiles!”.
7. At one time, I was overcome by a deep sense of shame when one of the channels broadcasted an interview with a Druze Sheik from one of the villages in Galilee, where he was accompanied by the Likud Druze MK. The Arab Druze Sheikh spoke in Hebrew, as he stood in his traditional Arabic Druze dress, inviting “our Jewish friends”, the inhabitants of the “Southern” settlements that were receiving the brunt of the rockets of the resistance, to be “our” guests in Galilee Druze villages, away from the rockets. “This is time for them to come and relax with us, totally free of charge.” “Free of charge”, the interviewer asked? “We want to express our solidarity with you for your steadfastness”. I thought to myself “what hypocrisy”!, and what incredible level of dissonance between what this Sheikh is saying (prompted by his Likud propagandist), and the pioneering role played by some Druze villages during the ethnic cleansing war of 1948, when they opened and offered their homes as refuge for displaced Muslim and Christian villagers, and where, most probably, some of these settlers participated in those criminal acts at the time.
There is no conclusion to this piece because, I believe, the attacks on Gaza and the Palestinian people have not ended …
– Khalil Nakhleh is a Palestinian anthropologist from the Galilee, Israel/Palestine, with a Ph.D. from Indiana University, USA. Dr. Nakhleh authored and published a number of academic books and articles, in English and Arabic, on Palestinian society, development, NGOs, and education. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.