My nan, aka taita to us in Arabic, was born in Haifa, Palestine in 1919. She lived in so many countries after fleeing with her entire family (husband and 4 young children) across the mountains (Golan Heights) into Lebanon in the 1947-49 “Catastrophe”. At the time, taita was pregnant with my mother, who was then born in Lebanon.

The masses of Jewish settlers leaving Nazi-torn Europe, and on instruction of the British armed forces, forced the expulsion of more than 600,000 Palestinian people. Fortunately, my family is well known, and Catholic (sadly it was even “creedist” back then), so they were taken care of – unlike the current half million Palestinian refugees still living in refugee camps inside Lebanese borders to this day – some 65 years later!

Imagine losing everything you know, for no reason anyone can really explain, and ending up in a refugee camp, with no hope of escape. Your children are born there, and “educated”, and you all die in the same place. Is there any wonder that there is so much anger about what’s happening out there??

65 years… I shake my head in dismay as I write this.

I have seen those camps. I have seen how they build mosques inside those fenced and barbed wire walls, their only hope of salvation are their prayers to Allah (for there are no Catholic Arabs that remain within those walls). I have relatives who still look towards the Lebanese/Palestinian-Israeli border, longing for their homes again. They have painted memories from their minds eye, trying to recollect every detail, from the stone walls and hedges around their lands, to the sheep in the fields, and the fishing boats in the sea.

People talk about Gaza being the world’s largest open air prison – I can confirm that it has smaller sisters located in southern Lebanon too.

My cousin is a nurse – she is Muslim. I love her, and admire her. She goes into those camps every day. She volunteers to take care of the people, because they have no other hope. She brings medical treatment to them, and even simple physical touch to young children, who are dirty from playing in the camps “streets” that have open sewerage draining down each side of them.

I understand why Jewish people wanted their own safe haven – who wouldn’t after having been penalized for centuries, across the world?

However, I do not understand why the new State of Israel in 1948 decided to do to the Palestinian people exactly what Hitler did to them during the previous years of the Second World War – I have been wondering that my whole life, and am still waiting for an explanation. Nothing I have ever read justifies any of Israel’s actions right up to today.

So let me ask you this – if the whole world admits that Israel is “occupying” territories in Palestine, then why has no action been taken by the most powerful world leaders to pull them back?

I think it’s because we are all too scared to say anything in case we are called “anti-Semitic”. At this point, I would very much like to remind the rest of the world – the current situation in Israel-Palestine is nothing to do with religion; it is definitely NOT about Islam vs. Judaism. To me, this whole nightmare is about innocent people being forced into situations where they have no control, because of what has happened in the past, such as with World War II.

There used to be Arab Catholics, Arab Jews and Arab Muslims living side by side in the area for more than 100 years – I ask myself rhetorically, “why did this situation have to change so dramatically??” But I know the answer really, having studied German history for my university degree, but also from the historical viewpoints of my Russian/German grandparents.

Through my father’s family I have Russian Jewish heritage – my great grandmother was forced to become a Christian when she moved to Germany, in order to be accepted by the German state at the time, and to become a “proper” German citizen – Germany is still incredibly religious today, with a percentage of individual income tax being dedicated to the Church.

My father’s parents saw World War II in it’s full and colourful “glory”. I can tell you now – there is no glory in war, or surviving it. There is no glory in killing other humans, or taking their homes, or stealing from them. In what religion does it say that this is okay?? If you can find me the exact passages in any Holy books that tell it’s followers to do any of this, I’ll be happy to see your interpretation!

I do not want to apportion blame to anyone. I just want there to be peace.

I want Israel to stop saying it’s all the Arabs fault, and to stop slaughtering innocent children and civilians with their high tech weapons and equipment. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank just want to feel safe.

I want the Arabs to stop saying it’s all Israel’s fault – unfortunately it all stems from Hitler’s (and the Nazi’s) treatment of 6 million Jews during the Second World War – they can’t do anything about it. They just want to feel safe.

Everything goes around in circles, especially history. The only ones not learning from the past is ALL OF THEM. And us, shame on us.

Get over yourselves, for the sake of your children, and for the sake of the world.

Peace. Shalom. Salam.

 

Some further reading:

The Israel Palestine situation explained

The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict

Arab-Israeli Wars

Facts and Figures about the Palestinians

The expulsion of the Palestinian’s re-examined

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