Innocent civilians are murdered and seriously injured everyday in Palestine and throughout the Middle East from terror, but the West always seems to have two standards for suffering, one for themselves and one for the people the West brutalizes. This essay explores the hypocrisy of the West in the aftermath of the terrorism in Brussels and the continued killings by Israel and the apathy towards the Syrian refugees and terrorism against civilians in Somalia and Yemen
By Dezeray Lyn
On the day that a brightly lit airport in Brussels, flush with the blur of passing crowds and conversation, became the smoky air and screams the world has seen in aftermath video of terrorists’ bombs, another country was trudging through its own smoky horror scene, Yemen.
But screams of horror rising from the ashes of Yemen, Somalia and Libya, where nearly 250 lives were seared from existence on ground torn apart by US bombs this month alone, remain unknown to many in the western world whose definition of “terror” is as casual as the killing it commits.
In the aftermath of the Brussels bombings, where the details were few and tensions were many, the Fox News entity sprinted blindly, with both shoes untied, down the fear trail. Fear News even featured a terror “expert” who proclaimed that, because two of the alleged suspects in the bombing were wearing khakis, it was a warning to the US that ‘we’ were next.
In the United States, a country nurtured into existence atop the mass theft, mass murder, mass pillage of First Nations Peoples, a cartoonish blur of bloated faces struggle over one another to the proverbial podium of US electoral politics in their war to become the next POTUS to assert, proclaim and declare, back handedly wiping the leftover smears of racism off the corners of their mouths as they exit stage left.
US Republican hopeful Ted Cruz has twice stated that ‘ISIS’ should be “carpet-bombed into oblivion”. With the blood of those in Brussels, and Yemen, still wet, Donald Trump capitalized on the former by renewing his call for a wall at the Mexican border, the removal and banning of Muslims from the United States and waterboarding “and worse” for those falling into the wide terrorist net he casts over the US and the world at large.
Donald Trump has repeatedly ignored statistics in direct contrast to the “facts” he uses to steam and power his engine of fascism, racism and Islamaphobic rhetoric. Actual on-the-ground truths like not one of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the country since September 11, 2001, have been arrested or found to have any connection to any plot against the United States whatsoever do not serve to slow this engine.
Hillary Clinton’s recent statements before the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, praising Golda Meir who intellectually ethnically cleansed Palestinians with the statement “There is no such thing as a Palestinian,” amongst other reprehensible declarations supporting the forced-displacement, mass murder and colossal land theft of Palestinian land, reaffirmed the United States willful blindness when it comes to the terrorism they and their allies commit, fund and support.
Stepping outside the velvet ropes of sea to shining sea, the mayhem unleashed upon the part of the world where bombs and bullets eradicating swaths of the populous are not tantamount to a terrorist act is unfolding day by day. As is the madness created by the murky ISIL body of terrorists who repeatedly end up with US provisions.
While ISIL is supposedly comprised of Islamic fundamentalists opposed to US and western imperialism, their actions continue to strengthen growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the west, strengthen US and ally positions which threaten Muslim populations with deportation and the ramifications of hate mongering, strengthen anti-immigration policies on a global scale. As someone commented to me recently, ISIL knows it does no favors to Muslims around the world with its actions.
I arrived in Lebanon several weeks ago during Apartheid Week, the week of action worldwide against Israel’s system of apartheid in historic Palestine and in resistance to the occupation at large. Within days, I sat beside American/Lebanese Muslim activist and film maker Jude Chehab in the Palestinian/Syrian Shatilla refugee camp to interview Salwa, a woman with a crumbling home full of young children offering us sweet juice in sticky cardboard boxes.
Salwa was 12 when she “just ran” through the killing fields Shatilla had become when the Phalange right wing Christian militia was emboldened by the Israeli military to go on a murder spree of Palestinians inside the camp in September of 1982.
“They went into our homes,” Salwa continued softly, “they burned our clothes to let us know they had come into our home.” And when Salwa talked about seeing decapitated heads while running for their lives, I never felt so American. And when Salwa recounted passing people throwing dead Palestinians into mass graves, I felt the American/Israeli alliance that Hillary Clinton fervently vowed to strengthen during her AIPAC address.
In Salwa’s large brown eyes, I saw every hypocrisy of the western world. I saw the 12 year old girl running, heart heavy with memories she collected on her way out of Shatilla just after the US funded Israeli forces fired flares into the night sky to direct the Phalangists to their kill targets. To Salwa. And to Salwa’s mother who “went in first of us and had to step over the bodies.” And to Salwa’s Uncle who “was out of the camp last of almost everyone because he wanted to fight them.”
I would stay in Lebanon just one week, watching Syrian children of 5 years, the age of the civil war in their homeland, begging aggressively in the streets for money. As if their lives depended on it. I was overwhelmed by a crowd of Syrian children nearly tearing the money out of our hands as we tried to hand one young girl a dollar. As if their lives depended on it. I watched a Syrian man with no legs sit in the middle of a car flooded roadway in Beirut with his palms turned up to the sun, collecting coins. As if his life depended on it.
Fittingly, one of the final conversations I had in Lebanon, where I got a glimpse of three refugee camps, dozens of desperate Syrians and struggling Palestinians, all burgeoning under the weight of western imperialism, was with Tala, a bright eyed young woman working with NGO’s in solidarity with the Syrian people.
Her words are heavily laden with the impossibility of the situation the Syrian people are faced with, “The majority have lost family members, friends, their home, their fortune, their businesses and more. A lot of them are really trying to move on. Sawa for Development and Aid is doing the best it can to help them move on.” Tala’s words remind me of Trump’s vitriol on sending refugees fleeing the violence of a civil war back to Syria, “There are some accounts of refugees living so poorly in the new host country that they decide to return to Syria, only to remember that it is impossible to live in.” And this, “From a personal view, I am tired.”
And why wouldn’t she be. Tala and others fighting to raise up the voices and the struggles of refugees searching desperately for the same security that others are simply born with, are in a constant losing competition with the ever rising volume of voices like that of Donald Trump, Fox News and others like them.
Tala, a young Syrian, continues to fight for a land now ravaged with violence, “6 years ago nobody knew what or where Syria was. Syria was my home, my safe haven, my childhood, my summer holiday. Syria was the smell of jasmine flowers, the kindness of strangers, the unequivocal epitome of authenticity.” To her the refugee crisis, particularly in Syria is “one of the biggest crises in contemporary history and the international community has done less than the least to improve the situation. Blatantly put: there is interest in the existence of this conflict, in the existence of IS and in the fact that the Arabs are tearing each other apart. But I still have hope.”
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