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Palestine Before and After

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Palestine Before and After - by Sherri Muzher

"People are tired of hearing about it," a friend once told 
me matter-of-factly about the Middle East conflict. Tell 
me about it. 

As a first-generation American of Palestinian descent, I 
can vouch that nobody is more tired of this conflict than 
Palestinians. But many of us don't have the luxury of 
flipping the channel or ignoring what is happening to our 
relatives and friends. 

Palestinians with serious illnesses in Gaza are denied 
access to medical care. More than 150 have died and 
children are being stoned on their way to school by Jewish 

We do what we can but it never feels sufficient. And though 
we're 100 percent Semitic, the usual tiring label of "anti-
Semite" is thrown at us for speaking out against the 

This month marks the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation 
and the dispossession of the Palestinians from their land. 
I'll save the history lessons because the realities have 
even been acknowledged by Israeli historians, most recently 
by Professor Ilan Pappe in 2006 with his book, "The Ethnic 
Cleansing of Palestine." 

Instead, I'd like to focus on the Palestinian people.

Denying their humanity has taken on many forms in the 
Israeli PR arsenal — from employing pop culture to paint 
Palestinians as terrorists at conception to the media's 
glorification of Israel's birth. 

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In recent years, pro-Israeli commentaries claim our parents 
don't love us. Apparently, my parents' years of love and 
sacrifice illustrate they never read the Palestinian manual 
for parents. 

Sarcasm aside, it all makes strategic sense: Dehumanize 
Palestinians or deny their heritage long enough that any 
action against them doesn't seem so outrageous, even if 
they are expulsions at gunpoint. 

Consider that Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said in 
1969 in an oft-repeated statement, "There is no such thing 
as a Palestinian." Too bad she didn't read up on history 
because there has been a collective consciousness of their 
unique identity for millennia. The ancient Canaanites 
weren't called Palestinians, but neither were the 
Mesopotamians called Iraqis or the Celts called Irish or 
British. Still, the roots are unquestionable and run 
eternally deep, from archeological finds to folktales. 

Another example of whiting out the Palestinian heritage 
is using the term "Israeli Arab." I've never heard of a 
generic Arab race — every Arab has a specific heritage, 
be it Palestinian, Lebanese, Algerian, etc. Think of 
Latin America, where they all speak the same language 
(Spanish, except in Portuguese-speaking Brazil) and most 
share the same religion (Roman Catholic). In the Arab 
world, they all speak Arabic and most are Muslim. 
Nonetheless, each country has its own dialect, foods 
and customs. Mexicans and Argentines differ, as do 
Palestinians and Egyptians. 

And within each Arab nation, there is even more diversity — 
from distinguishable dialects and expressions, to being 
able to identify the region a Palestinian woman came from 
by the intricate embroidery on her traditional dress. 
Palestinians have always had a rich and vibrant culture 
that is all their own, before and after Israel's creation. 

There is no question that Palestinians have taken a 
bruising with poorly made leadership decisions and 
factional fighting in recent years. But what has remained 
steadfast is their fierce embrace of identity and their 
resilience. This is true not only of Palestinians in 
Palestine but those of Palestinian descent in the diaspora.

Whether it was the election of Tony Saca to the presidency 
in El Salvador or respected fiscal conservative U.S. Sen. 
John Sununu being singled out for praise by Time magazine 
or Dr. Motia Khaled Al-Asir being awarded the British 
Empire Medal by Queen Elizabeth II, those of Palestinian 
descent continue to make their mark around the world. 

It is worth repeating that the Jewish Torah teaches us 
that man was created in God's image. The Palestinians 
have never been absent from this equation. 

Sherri Muzher is director of the Michigan Media Watch in 
Woodhaven, Mich.  


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