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PostPalestinian Identity; Edward Said and Said Sidki (Istvan Simon, USA, 10/09/12 4:46 am)
In response to Carmen Negrín (7 October), the Queen of Jordan is indeed of Palestinian origin, though educated in the United States. She has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to stop the practice of so-called "honor killings" in Jordan.
There is no proof at all that the Philistines have anything at all to do with Palestinians today. It would be very easy to actually provide proof. It would be sufficient for 1000 Palestinians to submit DNA samples to the National Geographic migration study based on DNA. I do not know what the result of such a study would be, but it would conclusively settle the issue whether the Palestinians have anything at all to do with the Philistines or not.
Concerning the video that Carmen has provided, other than the sympathetic French TV commentator's comments, we know absolutely nothing about why the two families were being evicted. So this proves absolutely nothing at all about violations of the Geneva Conventions, any more than it would prove violations of the Geneva Conventions if I took a video of an eviction in my city in the United States by the police, and made sympathetic comments on it about the family being evicted, and then posted it on YouTube.
Edward Said was an American Professor of Palestinian origin at Columbia University. He was famously militant against Israel, and was a friend of Daniel Barenboim, the great Argentinian-Israeli-American conductor and pianist, with whom he founded the East Divan Orchestra which has perhaps made a significant contribution towards understanding between the two communities, Jewish and Arab Palestinians, by giving them the chance to play music together.
But Edward Said does not prove that Palestinian identity existed prior to 1948. Were it so, I could bring up my friend, Dr. Said Sidki, who is a mathematics Professor at the University of Brasília, and a lifelong friend of my family, at whose home in Brasília I slept. For Dr. Sidki is also of Palestinian origin. But instead of throwing stones at Israel, as Edward Said has done, he befriended Jews like me and my brother in Brazil, and we usually discussed mathematics and life in general, rather than the Israel/Palestinian dispute.
Carmen asked: "what would [the Palestinians] be fighting for since 1948? Does Istvan think they invented their identity after the state of Israel was created?"
Indeed I do. What happened after 1948 is that about 600,000 Palestinians got herded into United Nations refugee camps, a few miles from where their former homes had been. A large number of these 600,000 were encouraged by the Arab States to leave their homes, waiting for the counter-attack of the Arabs, expected to occur within days, which would again allow them to return to their former homes. But the counter-attack never came. A significant number of the 600,000, we do not know how many, fled their homes in fear for their lives, due to Israeli terrorist attacks by the Irgun. They were herded into the refugee camps with all the others as well.
Not only the counter-attack of the Arabs never came, but they also cynically then kept their brothers and sisters in the said UN refugee camps for the next 64 years. They did not offer them new homes in Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, or Kuwait, or Egypt, or Iraq, or Syria, or Lebanon, or Tunisia, or Libya, or anywhere else in the vast lands controlled by Arabs. Instead, they kept them in refugee camps for 64 years, where their grandchildren are imbued daily with propaganda and hatred for Israel, and encouraged to become suicide murderers. Where babies carry Kalashnikovs with militant slogans painted on green headbands on their heads. This is what created the Palestinian identity. This is how the Palestinian identity was forged since 1948.
I add finally, that there were also Palestinians who chose a different future for themselves. Like my friend Said Sidki, who became instead a mathematics professor in Brazil, and would not dream of educating his children to become suicide murderers.
I do agree with Carmen's conclusion: "the fact is that both groups are there now and have to live together."
JE comments: Edward Said (died 2003) has come up numerous times on the Forum, but I've never posed the question: did any WAISers know him? Said's book Orientalism is one of the foundational texts of Post-Colonial and Cultural Studies.
I have always been struck by the tendency of émigré Jewish and Arabic Muslim communities in Latin America to get along, a phenomenon Istvan Simon's friendship with Prof. Sidki brings to life.
Palestinian Identity and Jerusalem
(John Heelan, -UK
10/09/12 10:42 AM)
In his rebuttal to Carmen Negrín's post on Palestinians, Istvan Simon wrote on 9 October: "I do agree with Carmen's conclusion: 'the fact is that both groups are there now and have to live together.'" Previously, Istvan had reminded us of the traditional toast at the end of Seder celebration, "next year in Jerusalem."
It is worth remembering that "The name Jerusalem literally means City of Peace or ir shalem in Hebrew. Throughout the centuries, Jerusalem has rarely lived up to that name. Destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, fought over by the Crusaders and Muslims, and the fault line between Israelis and Palestinians. Jerusalem may not currently be seething with violence, but it is roiling with tension. Jerusalem is far from being a city of peace, at least right now. And perhaps that is the point of the prayer."
(By the way, presumably Palestine existed as a named entity between 1922 and 1948, when it was governed by the British Mandate for Palestine, authorised by the League of Nations.)