Said Ghazali: There can be no more dancing on the dead

Share

'The only way we Palestinians can beat the Israelis is by seizing the moral high ground'

'The only way we Palestinians can beat the Israelis is by seizing the moral high ground'

The Palestinian lady with a sinister look brandishing her arms and almost dancing with delight in front of a CNN camera looks like a witch. There is venom in her heart and evil in her eyes. And yet that image, continuously projected worldwide by so many TV stations, in the aftermath of the worst terror attack of the modern age is not true and not fair.

The reality is far different, far more complex, and hard for the western mind to comprehend. The great majority of Palestinians are not sinister terrorists, savage, blood-drinking cannibals who glory in the massive slaughter of other people. We are human beings, who feel acutely sensitive to the suffering of others, and especially the brutality of Tuesday's events in America.

Yet this is so hard to get across to outsiders. And, in my view, this is the fault of both the Israelis and my own people. Israeli officials are far smarter than their Palestinian counterparts in the subtle arts of public relations. They write – often without the reader knowing who they are – in leading American newspapers and participate in the endless talk show circuit. Their English is better than ours; they are more articulate. They beat us hands down.

But it is also the fault of our own leadership and we – the Palestinian people – will now pay the price more heavily than ever before. Nothing can justify glorying in the massacre suffered in the United States. Those scenes of people – who, by the way, were few in number – dancing in the streets of the occupied territories made me feel sick. And many others like me felt the same way.

My wife, Sana, cried as she watched the ball of fire coming out of the collapsing World Trade Centre. "They are bastards." Who, I asked? "Those who are celebrating. This is the ugliest crime of the twenty-first century." But these people do not represent the Palestinian people. They do not represent those who have relatives in the United States or those who have businesses in the West Bank town of Ramallah and in New York. Nor do they have anything to do with those who came back – so hopefully – from abroad during the Oslo years to build hotels and McDonald restaurants, or those who built their own World Trade Centre – a tiny building in the Gaza Strip – or those Palestinian policemen who were trained by the CIA, no less, to combat terror.

In short, they are uneducated, the members of the generations lost to the last intifada, the intensely poor. They are the 13-year-olds who have come to admire gunmen as heroes, and the 21-year-old gunmen themselves who used to throw stones during the intifada of 1987-1993. You cannot defend what they did. But you try to understand what lies behind it – a task that TV pictures fail miserably to perform.

The TV coverage of the Palestinian reaction to Tuesday's horrors failed to mention that 50 per cent of the Palestinians now live under the poverty line – that's $2 a day. It failed to mention that most Palestinians live in separated enclaves – Bantustans now ringed by the Israeli military. My uncle in Hebron simply could not attend my cousin's wedding in east Jerusalem last week. The Israeli checkpoints made sure of that. I cannot begin to list the number of friends I have, in Gaza, Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarm, who are trapped in their own towns – people who used freely to come to see me in Jerusalem.

Many Palestinians have no food, no jobs, insufficient medicine. They have been bombarded time and again by Israeli Apaches and F-16s. And they have taken note that these weapons are manufactured in the United States.

No matter. There is no excuse for any kind of celebration over the deaths of thousands of innocents in America. And the time has come to stop celebrating our own dead too. If there is a way forward it is through peace. The only way we can beat the Israelis is by seizing the moral high ground. The last time Palestinians danced in the streets was at the start of the Oslo peace process. Now some – a pathetic rabble – dance over the bodies of dead Americans.

But do not allow those stupid demonstrations of mirth to act as a reason for setting aside the underlying causes for anti-American sentiment, or for paying no further heed to the Palestinian plight. Now we must do something tangible to change our damaged image and to condemn this horrible massacre, and not only in words. Oslo brought us unemployment, a new mafia – the Palestinian Authority, who sucked our economy dry, like Israel used to do – and now a new conflict. But now is a moment for reflection.

It is the job of our leadership dramatically to change its tactics and strategy. Our president, Yasser Arafat – who condemned it verbally – should take action now. He should tell every single Palestinian man, woman and child that the killing must stop. Stop the violence. Look for peaceful means. Talk with the Israelis. But stick to our rights. This will take time, but it is our only option. And no more – my brothers – dancing over the dead.

The author is a freelance Palestinian journalist

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine