Letter to my European friends

Dr Mohammad Makram Balawi

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the European Parliament last week to support his country in the fight against Russia. I was there, and heard him speak. Unlike Ukrainians, being neutral is the best that we Palestinians can expect from our European friends. European neutrality is not even an option when it comes to Ukraine and Russia, though.

I am not a head of a state like Zelenskyy; I am just a simple man. Nevertheless, I demand justice and have a right to do so. I was born outside Palestine but am not permitted by the Israelis and their allies to return to my homeland — despite my legitimate right to do so under international law — or even to call myself a Palestinian refugee, because I was born in Jordan and was granted Jordanian citizenship although both of my parents were born in Palestine. In stark contrast, any Jew born anywhere in the world can “return” to my homeland on the basis that their alleged ancestors lived there more than 2,000 years ago.

European friends tell me to be realistic and accept the facts, by which they mean that I should condone the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that started in 1948, endorse the right of Israel exist on my homeland and accept whatever crumbs it decides to give me. Apply the same logic to, for example, those who are today known as Italians. If they went anywhere in the old Roman Empire at its height they would have the “right” to expel the British, French, Spanish and any number of other people from their homeland. How many, I ask my European friends, would be “realistic” and accept such a “right”?

We Palestinians, we are told, should seek peace in a peaceful manner, and we will get our own state living side by side with Israel. That’s the theory. What we are not told is how and when this will happen. No European friends can answer that simple question. Furthermore, why should we even believe in the “peaceful” approach any longer? The Palestine Liberation Organisation choose to make peace with Israel in 1993, and signed the Oslo Accords under a European umbrella; the PLO even agreed to coordinate security to protect the occupation state. In return, the Palestinians were supposed to have a state to call their own. It hasn’t happened. Why not? Where did the “peaceful” route take us over 30 years of broken promises?

Moreover, was Israel created peacefully in my homeland Palestine? The reality is that it was built on the terrorism of Jewish militias such as Irgun, the Stern Gang, the Palmach and the Haganah, which went on to become the Israel Defence Forces. State violence continues to this day. Israel is a nuclear-armed power, while we Palestinians have nothing to compare with the occupation state’s army, navy and air force. Who is ready to guarantee Israel’s goodwill, and who will guarantee that we will get our own state even in what is left of historic Palestine after Israel has taken more land for its illegal settlements, Jew-only service roads and the Apartheid Wall?

It is with regret that I must remind my European friends that anti-Semitic pogroms took place in Europe; the ethnic cleansing of Jews took place in Europe; the Nazi Holocaust took place in Europe; and now, out of a sense of guilt and remorse, Europe is helping Israeli Jews to do to the same to the Palestinians. Your crime is perpetrated twice over: once against the Jews of Europe; and now helping Israeli Jews to do the same to we Palestinians. We did not commit anti-Jewish pogroms, ethnic cleansing or the Holocaust, but we have to pay the price for your actions. Europe’s so-called “Jewish problem” is being solved at our expense.

However, has the “problem” really been solved? You have armed the Israelis to their teeth, protected them in international organisations, financed them and justified all of their apartheid policies to the extent that they are now convinced that violence against us is the only way to achieve their objectives. Now some are talking about using the same tactics against each other in a civil war; soon we might see Israelis killing Israelis because one group is not extreme right-wing enough for the other, and vice versa.

You know, my European friends, that the monster of fascism was born in Europe, and Zionism is fascism’s ugly offspring. Zionist Jews have sold their non-Zionist co-religionists out in the past, and look like doing so again now. After targeting the Palestinians, the Zionists and their allies are again turning on non-Zionist Jews in Israel and elsewhere.

Moreover, what will happen if Israeli injustice leads to the fall of neighbouring Arab regimes and creates another regional war? The memories of the Arab Spring are still fresh in Arab minds. Indeed, the uprising lingers on, as we can see in Syria. Millions of Syrian refugees fled to Europe, and have been joined by those from Afghanistan and other parts of the world, especially Africa. If nothing else, the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated that the world has become interconnected as never before, and we cannot escape the consequences of other peoples’ actions, no matter where in the world they are.

More refugees in Europe means more anti-refugee sentiments and open racism, upon which the far-right thrives. Fascism is on the rise again on your own doorstep, my European friends. You know what this means: more militarisation and securitisation of your precious open societies; more poverty as unbridled capitalism flourishes, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer; curbs on freedom and democracy; and — yet again — war between European nation states.

So, my dear European friends, I am not telling you to treat us Palestinians in the same way that you treat Ukraine. I am simply trying to sound the alarm. Unless you resist the pro-Israel lobby’s pressure and intimidation in Europe as it hurls fake allegations of anti-Semitism at everyone who dares to criticise Israel and its policies; unless you stop issuing Israel with a permanently blank cheque; unless you stand up against Israel and say enough is enough, no more impunity, the state is not above the law and it has to abide by international resolutions; unless justice is delivered to the Palestinians and real peace is achieved; unless you do all of this, everyone is going to suffer, not just we Palestinians. Learn from history, my European friends, especially your own history. You can’t say that you haven’t been warned.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

(Source: MEMO)