ه: Power, Semantics, and Palestine.

.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Photo Creds: Moosa Alam, Allah hummabārik.

ه had grown up in New York* (where, she says, Israel is typically seen as ‘the fifty-first American state’).

ه’s parents are Catholic, and vocationally, she is a teacher over in America. Initially, she had been a more ‘traditional’ teacher, and she is now an after-school one: she has relatively more freedom this way, for one thing. [ه is thankful to her partner for being the breadwinner in their relationship: she therefore finds she has the time and energy to focus on her passions; what she really wants to do.]

We spoke a little about how passions can sometimes be severely suppressed by certain restrictions, and over-working: when it all descends into becoming ‘hack work’, and when that sense of exhaustion moves one to function more in ‘auto-pilot mode’. [Perhaps the goal is to find that good balance between raw and authentic passion, and duty.]

One can care so much, about one’s doings, vocation[s]. Being a mother, and/or a teacher; religious leader, youth worker, doctor. That crucial soul-ful aspect of these things can quickly, we find, become clouded sometimes. By long hours, depleted sleep and health, swathes of paperwork and admin tasks popping up, and an ensuing feeling of detachment from the essence of one’s work.


ه and I talk about Palestine. It can sometimes become ‘easy’ to find oneself feeling so detached to the reality of the situation, on the ground. Something that is interesting about ه:

She has been to Palestine. Really recommends people visiting, to see the truth of the situation for ourselves. Ever since her youth, ه had been paying attention to things: media coverage of Middle Eastern political matters, notifications regarding the First Intifada.

ه says she loves children, and the city of Bethlehem, among other things. [Children: while speaking to her over a video call, my little brother decided to seize my phone from my hands and run with it. Twice. Thankfully, ه found this amusing!]

And ه runs her own project, [may Allah help those seeds to grow and blossom!] connecting teachers and their students in Gaza (which is currently an open-air prison) with international teachers, and our students. We must let these children talk about their own lives; tell their own stories:

And we must not forget about the Palestinians.

The truths of what they must face: the bombs they witness, frequently flying overhead: let them not be overlooked or painted over. The deaths, and the brutalities. As well as the other pressing sanitary, psychological, violent and medical concerns the Gazans face, it is estimated that 95% of Gazan children experience/exhibit symptoms of depression.

Israel is an apartheid state. A settler-colonial one; a product of Western imperialism, and a habitual aggressor. Even when powerful governments, media outlets and more collude, come together in order to conceal the truth.

Strange, how the United States of America had been founded upon very similar principles. And yet, how quickly people trust the American government to dictate the morals/laws that we should adhere to. [Who died and made that government the ‘moral guardsman’ of the world?!]

The US government funds its ally Israel, while yielding semantic power by labelling ‘Moslems’ as ‘backward’, ‘terrorists’. With regard to the Palestinian situation, this is analogous to: someone, with the aid of his friends, taking over another’s house. Labelling the defenders of their own home ‘terrorists’ and ‘aggressors’, and calling the invaders/settlers the ‘defenders’. Read: Israeli ‘Defense‘ Forces. While any forms of opposition are branded ‘terrorists’, and ‘uncivilised’ ‘barbarians’.

ه had been growing up at a time when media companies would openly tell the world that, yes, in order for the illegitimate nation of ‘Israel’ to establish itself, it did utilise such tactics as running over innocent civilians – including children – with tanks. [And does it find itself ‘above’ such policies now?

Will the world (namely, the American government) continue to help cover up its brutalities, its aggressions?]

What could possibly make the world care about Palestine? For some, the bare facts of aggression and bullying – apartheid and all the rest – are not enough. Indeed, for some: only those moments of ‘deserving victims’ being attacked and killed make the Palestinian plight worthy of recognition. Incidents like that of Rachel Corrie, and relating to the fact that not all Palestinians are Muslim. [There certainly are Palestinian Christians too!]

Is the Palestinian situation a ‘religious’ issue, or a ‘political’ one?

‘Politics’ refers to power plays: who has power, and why, and what they do as a result of it. Individuals and bodies who hold power, in interaction with other powerful individuals and bodies; individuals and groups that are relatively powerless, and what is done with and to them, too.

‘Israel’ is a nation that had been superimposed atop pre-existing peoples and customs. Previously, the Middle East had comfortably been home to various groups of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. But ‘Israel’ asserts that it is their indisputable right for European Jews to take over Palestinian property and land, allegedly in the name of fulfilling ‘Biblical prophecy’ or some such.

ه points out that the thinkers behind ‘Israel’ are most likely not authentic, religious Jews. More: power-hungry ones. While in Palestine, ه had asked a friend of hers how to move there. Her friend remarked something along the lines of:

Say you’re Jewish. They’ll pay for you to move here.”

ه and I spoke about media narratives, as well as the intentional confusions between ’cause’ and ‘effect’. When a bullying aggressor (like any of the Western imperial nations, in their histories — and what is the ‘present’, but a product of said histories?) provokes and attacks a victim; the victim reacts. And the bullying aggressor points to this and says, see? This is why they deserved that treatment in the first place!

And we’re ‘pro-democracy’, and ‘pro-LGBT’. And look! We even make our jets pink for breast cancer awareness! [While… they bomb innocent men, and mothers and babies in hospitals, unapologetically.]

ه is a white non-Muslim American who refuses to believe that the tragedy of 9/11, for example, had been carried out by ‘Moslems’. She is aware that she may be labelled – and has been labelled – as being something of a ‘crazy conspiracy theorist’ as a result of saying this. But: in light of the US government’s thoroughly shady actions in the past (some of which are now clearly, unashamedly published in history books) would it really be that much of a surprise?

That is a government built on, and maintained by, genocide, unfettered greed, slavery, oil-fuelled wars, invasions, economic espionage… and as a nation, it is only less than two-hundred-and-fifty years old!

The Israeli government is certainly not dissimilar. What’s more, they are known for spying on civilians, hacking phones, threatening people… But they get away with it: the (created) global narrative of ‘Moslems’ being aggressors and anti-Semites allows Mossad and the IDF to do all this, again, in the name of ‘defence’.

This is certainly not to say that ‘all Jews/Israelis/Americans are evil’. More so: do not forget about the Palestinians. And if you are Muslim/Palestinian/Middle Eastern, do not let arrogant and corrupt governments, and the power they hold over widespread media narratives, tell you who you and your people are. I hope you get to figure out these questions of identity far more beginning from a place of security, love, and trust in the Almighty… rather than from a mind-space that is susceptible to certain environmental poisons being spouted by groups that have certain agendas…

And! I look very forward to hearing from Heather again, and from these Palestinian students (to know more about them, and their stories and experiences), soon, In Shaa Allah.

“Walk [habitually] before Me [with integrity, knowing that you are always in My presence]

[…] For I will make you [Abraham,] the father of many nations.”

Holy Bible, Genesis 17

*This information about ه is from my (fallible, human) memory, and so there may be some minor inaccuracies.

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