Exploring the Powerful Issues and Emotions of the Middle East
Every once in a great while an event or events occur that transforms the nature of a struggle. As if by magic or Divine Intervention, a people decide collectively that the chasm between freedom and death are the only alternatives of their existence. They reach a point when they decide that the years of humiliation, the years of waiting for deliverance from
outside parties, and the years of placing faith in their leadership must be rejected once and for all. It is a point of no return. The Palestinians have discovered this chasm.
TV grab from France 2 footage of Israeli-Palestinian clashes in Netzarim in the Gaza Strip 30 September 2000 shows Jamal Al-durra and his son Mohammed, 12, hiding behind a barrel to protect themselves from Israeli-Palestinian cross fire. The boy is screaming in panic as shots hit the wall over their heads. Seconds later he was fatally struck in the abdomen. Seriously wounded, the father lost consciousness, was hospitalized in Gaza and eventually recovered.
I am a forty-four year old Palestinian-American businessman and discovered the chasm after watching a thirteen-year-old boy in the Occupied Territories face an Israeli tank with nothing more than a stone in hand. This boy had discovered the chasm long before me. In that one brave act of defiance, this boy became MY leader. After first seeing that image, I cried. Every night as I go to sleep safely tucked away in my suburban home in Illinois, that image haunts me...and I cry. Even as I type this with tears running down my cheek, the chasm beckons.
Israel has lost this struggle, only they have not yet fully discovered this. For years they have been so militarily successful that the arrogance of power has distorted their sensibilities. Menachem Begin clearly outlined Israeli strategy when he said the following:
"We have made the Arabs lose faith and confidence in themselves. Now we must make them lose the hope of pressuring us through the United States."
The chasm is proving Israel's well-worn strategy obsolete. Last month, a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy in Amman, Jordan woke up at six in the morning and left a note for his parents. The note said that he was leaving to join the Uprising with his brothers and sisters in the Occupied Territories. He could not wait for Arafat to deliver them from apartheid, he could not wait for America to free his people. He embarked upon a solitary journey, fifty miles to a place he had never been. After walking for eighteen hours, exhausted and lost, he fell asleep in a field only to be found by Bedouins. They took back him back to his family. This boy became MY leader.
Mohammed Al-durra was a twelve-year-old boy shot in his father's arms by Israeli Occupation Forces. We are told he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. His place and time in the struggle are timeless, captured on film for a world wishing to turn a blind eye. His place in the struggle cemented forever. This boy became MY leader.
Through the brutality of Occupation, through the humiliation of Occupation, through the injustice of Occupation, our people have rekindled a dignity that laid dormant for hundreds of years.
The human heart knows no bounds...once it is opened. Through the brutality of Occupation, through the humiliation of Occupation, through the injustice of Occupation, our people have rekindled a dignity that laid dormant for hundreds of years. Through our pain has come a rebirth. This rebirth transcends religion and ideology. It transcends economics and public relations.
The brutality of Israeli Occupation has an air of desperation. Israelis are clinging to a dead corpse, not quite realizing that a rebirth is under way and cannot be aborted. Try as they may, Israeli gunmen cannot extinguish the Phoenix rising from the rubble and ashes they have so artfully created. For every child they shoot, another picks up a stone to lead our people. And I will follow from this point until the day I die.
Jaffer Ali is a leading Palestinian businessman and author. He writes on such diverse topics ranging from management theory to business ethics.