By Sharon St Joan
(The following is my personal view – nothing more.)
I feel that we need to see, not just the present, but to have a grasp of history as well.
First, atrocities are always wrong, no matter who commits them or what they want to call them. On both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, atrocities are committed by groups that fail to represent the great majority of the people they claim to represent.
Secondly, even if we know nothing about history, it might be good to ask ourselves – how did the people who have been living in Gaza get there?
Sometimes there is a hidden history that rarely appears across our television screens. Sometimes we are shown mostly only one side of a story.
Did two million people decide they’d like to live squashed into a small space? Where did they live before? Where did they come from?
Where was the land of Palestine? What happened to it? Why do the people who lived in Palestine for 2,000 years no longer live there?
Why do they live scattered across many lands — in Jordan, in Lebanon, in Gaza – and across the world? Some live on the Israeli West Bank under a military dictatorship. Many still live in other countries in refugee camps. What happened to their middle-class way of life – to their beautiful groves of thousand year old olive trees? To their comfortable homes? Who lives in these houses now, and where did these newcomers come from?
Palestinians call this disaster, “al-Nakba,” which means the “catastrophe.” It was and is accompanied by many decades of injustice, poverty, pain, suffering, and for some, torture, and imprisonment.
Lastly, this story is not unique to history – if we are American and if our own ancestors came willingly to these shores, we might ask ourselves who lived on our land before us? Whose land was it? What has happened to those people? Where are they now and how are they doing? Conquest is an old story, oft repeated, but knowledge of history can provide an incisive beam of light.
Reading three or four books written by Palestinians, can give us a broader perspective. You can find them on Amazon.