Trump’s timely response to Mahmoud Abbas’s insults

Our neighbors have a way with words. Having been writing for the best part of 25 years, I appreciate semantic delicacies. Continue reading

Advertisements

Palestinians: The Nightmare of Christians

Without question, Samir Qumsieh is one of the most courageous Christian leaders in the Middle East. Qumsieh is one of the few willing to risk his life to speak out against Muslim persecution of Christians in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East, generally. Continue reading

The United Nations and the Palestinians

There is one way in which the Palestinian refugees are unique. The United Nations has created a special organization for Palestinian refugees that both defines them differently and cares for them separately from every other refugee population on earth. In so doing, the international community has been a full partner in helping the Palestinian refugees preserve their status and nurture their grievances. Continue reading

I’m thinking of writing an opera called “Why Michael Brown Deserved to Die.”

What do you think? Do you think if I write a thought-provoking, probingly-artistic contemporary opera on the subject of Michael Brown’s untimely shooting, it will be met with critical acclaim?
Maybe it will be performed by the New York Metropolitan Opera during its 2015 season, and will be described as “dialogue” on a difficult subject. Continue reading

What was – or is – the Nakba?

Israel and Hamas are once again on the brink of war. Palestinian support for a two-state option is plummeting. The brutal slayings of three Israeli yeshiva students on the West Bank have been followed by reprisals by Israeli civilians against Arabs on an order not seen since the creation of the state.

In the days and weeks ahead, battles will be waged with weapons and with words. And for the Palestinians, one of the most powerful of those words will be Nakba – the catastrophe of 1948.
The political use of the Arabic word nakba (disaster) goes back to 1920, when Arabs decried European colonial rule over portions of the now-defunct Ottoman empire. While the 1948 war was still raging, Constantine Zureiq, a professor at the American University in Beirut, wrote a book, “The Meaning of the Disaster,” which used the term Nakba to describe the internal weaknesses and failings of the Arab world that had made Israel’s victory possible.
Over time, the term Nakba has come to be associated with the forced migration of the Palestinians in 1948 and the Israeli government’s refusal to let the refugees return after the war’s end. Most Israeli Jews and supporters of Israel have a visceral, negative reaction to the word. A recent Israeli law (which has not yet been tested in the courts) allows the government to fine publicly-funded institutions that commemorate Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. This legislation is colloquially referred to as “the Nakba law.”
Why is this word so threatening? When Israeli Jews hear the word Naqba, they infer a denial of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. They associate the Naqba with the Palestinian Right of Return, which, if exercised, could theoretically lead to millions of Palestinian refugees (those surviving from 1948, and their descendants) coming to Israel and claiming their lands, upon which hundreds of Israeli communities now sit.
Denial of the Nakba is less about what happened in 1948 than about why. It is about causes and consequences of events, not events themselves. Mainstream Israeli narratives of 1948 often underestimate the number of Palestinian refugees, but many Israeli Jews would acknowledge that in 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lost their homes – and their homeland. Along with that acknowledgment, though, comes the claim that the Palestinians brought disaster upon themselves by not accepting the United Nations Partition plan of November 1947. Israeli denial of the Nakba is a denial of responsibility, and hence of culpability.
For Palestinians, mourning for their lost homeland is inseparable from rage against all the actors – the international community, the Arab states, and, most of all, Israel – who, they feel, brought, and continue to bring, disaster upon them. Nakba is more than a description, more than a lament – it is an accusation of crimes past and present.
It is hard to deny the Nakba, however, without using the word itself. Israeli newspapers now write about the Naqba more than ever before. Palestinian political rhetoric has been accepted into Israeli public conversation.
During the Cold War, conservative West German newspapers referred to East Germany in quotes, as the “DDR,” and in communist East Germany West Berlin’s separate status as part of the Federal Republic of Germany was obscured by referring to it as Berlin (West). Such linguistic trickery served only to strengthen awareness of the reality of both East Germany and West Berlin. The Cold War of the 1940s through 1980s is now over, and East Germany and West Berlin have ceased to exist as political entities. But the Nakba continues, and it will continue to continue, until Israel acknowledges its past and the Palestinians, including Hamas, legitimize Israel’s future. In the current climate, neither appears likely.

Derek Penslar

Terror-Paradies Österreich

Die Aufwach-Zeit österreichischer Behörden scheint 60 Jahre zu betragen. So lange dauerte es immerhin, bis österreichische Behörden auf die Existenz und Tätigkeit der (1952 etablierten) National Security Agency, der NSA, aufmerksam wurden. Continue reading

ORF – die Propaganda-Maschine

Österreichischer Rundfunk Fernsehen. So nennt sich das Unternehmen, das in Österreich immer noch als öffentliche Anstalt verkauft wird, mit Bildungs- und Informationsauftrag. Das mit zwangsweise eingehobenen Zwangsbeiträgen künstlich am Leben erhalten wird. Lange vergessen ist das Rundfunk-Volksbegehren. Heute ist der ORF nur mehr eine teure Propaganda-Maschine, die das tägliche Geschehen so einfärbt und darstellt, wie es parteipolitisch vorgegeben wird. Continue reading

Peaceful Missions – oder?

Im Mittleren Osten (für Europäer der Nahe Osten) tummeln sich schon lange, schon viel zu lange, Terroristen. Nicht politische, nicht soziale Ziele verfolgen sie. Sie wollen viel Macht, schnelles Geld, haben Freude am Töten. Einer der bekanntesten Terroristen-Chefs war Yasser Arafat. Der liberale Westen liebt solche Leute, je mehr Blut, desto besser. Als Top-Terrorist erhielt Arafat denn auch den Friedensnobelpreis. Continue reading