11 05 2010

On Saturday it is the 15th of May, it is also “Nakba Day” – the  “day of the catastrophe”. Nakba Day commemorates the creation of Israel. To put it another way;

“During the 1948 war with the nascent state of Israel it is estimated that around half of the 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs were driven from their homes or fled, to neighbouring Arab states. At the end of the fighting, the new state of Israel controlled 77 percent of the territory of Mandatory Palestine, while the West Bank and the Gaza strip fell to Jordan and Egypt respectively.

This period of Palestinian history has come to be known as al-Nakba, ‘the catastrophe’. Of the 750,000 displaced Palestinians, approximately 110,000 (mostly from northern Palestine) sought refuge in Lebanon. The majority of these refugees registered with UNRWA, and were given refuge in one of the dozen camps operated by the organisation around the country. While some of the wealthier refugee families from 1948 and 1967 were given citizenship, the Lebanese government has refused to naturalize the vast majority of Palestinian refugees. Moreover, it has actively discouraged assimilation fearing that an influx of Sunni Muslims would upset the Lebanese political system balancing the country’s minorities.”

It doesn’t take much evidence to see how much Palestinians suffer. In news programmes over the last few decades we have seen innocent Palestinians suffer attack after attack by the Israeli army. Most of the time the Israeli Army justifies the attacks because they say they are stopping “terrorists”. In today’s coded language this is a very important justification, it also helps to garner support from the “West”. 

The pictures we usually see are shocking; victim after bloodied victim on stretcher after stretcher, the effect of “collateral damage” – the destroyed schools, apartment blocks and hospitals, then more victims. Anger is the first emotion, followed closely by compassion for the plight of the Palestinians

We all know about the Middle East though, don’t we? It’s all like this, they’re all fanatics. This is no surprise. “They don’t have “normal” lives like we do, do they?” Well, they have normal lives actually, or at least as normal as they’re allowed to be. They even play football!!

“Palestinians play football you say, but wait a minute that would mean that they’re just like us!!”  Well, yes they are. Football is so simple it’s the most popular sport in the world, even Israelis play football. It should be no wonder that Palestinians play football but then the capacity for Palestinians to lead normal lives can be forgotten.

The members of Palestinian national team suffer like the rest of the population. They suffer the same restrictions (They can’t travel from the Gaza Strip, making playing in international a bit difficult), they suffer from the same shortages, the same power cuts, the same threat as potential targets (bombs don’t discriminate in favour of professional sportsmen despite what the media leads us to believe about their hero status)

It puts our troubles into some context.

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