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Netanyahu: Offering Old Cliches in a New Wolrd

The Likud Party led by Benjamin Netanyahu wins...
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Last week witnessed, yet again, a visit by yet another Israeli prime  minister to the capital of the United States to offer the same age-old cliches to a group of fawning American lawmakers. It seems when it comes to the actions and the statements of the state of Israel, one ought to apply an out-of-the-world logic to understand it. Our earthly logic and the international treaties and policies, it seems, do not apply to the state of Israel.

Like all of the US lawmakers, I often try to inhabit this otherworldly space to understand the things that come out of the august mouths of Israeli leaders and those of their American counterparts, but lately I have, due to my deep investment in the world I live in, not been able to inhabit this deep space plane of existence. But to reduce this divine logic to our earthly consciousness is an interesting exercise.

So this is how the Israeli statements go:

  • A 1967 border between Israel and Palestine is indefensible.
  • It will leave thousands of Israelis outside the official territory of the state of Israel.
  • The Palestinians cannot be granted the right of return as it would “dilute” the Jewish state.

And the US lawmakers, who usually cannot take a leak without mentioning “Freedom” and “Rights” and “Human Dignity”, applaud these bizarre and out of touch statements of a leader whose nation has starved thousands of people for the last three years in what could be termed as the last existing concentration camp, Gaza.

So here is what all these cliched and hackneyed statements by Mr. Netanyahu imply: Since the original border of Israel is somehow indefensible, Israel, therefore, has the right to conquer and keep territories outside that border in a sort of imperial eminent domain. And since against the Geneva Convention on changing the demographics of a captured territory Israel has allowed illegal settlements to flourish in this occupied territory–required for a defensible Israel–the only way of keeping this illegally acquired territory is to make the act of their capture, somehow, legal. And even though the UN charter clearly states that all refugees will have a right to return to their original place of domicile, the Palestinians somehow must give up this universal right to accommodate their oppressors.

And we must accept this because Israel, as we are repeatedly told, is the only true democracy in the region. Needless to point out, this same democracy is based in an ethnic and religious view of the nation according to which all those outside this particular definition are not really full citizens and must always inhabit a second class status within the democratic state of Israel.

But while Mr. Netanyahu spouts these age-old cliches and while the US congress giggles like a bunch of unimaginative teenagers, the world around Israel is changing quickly. Besides the spring uprisings, this was also the first year when people from all neighboring countries flocked to the Israeli borders in large numbers to protest the racist and inhuman policies of the state of Israel. These instances of popular protest are likely to increase in the future and as the neighboring states become more and more democratic, Israel will have to contend with “democratic” Arab states whose leaders must, on the surface, represent the popular will and not just the US and Israeli interests in the region. The change is already there: the opening of Rafah border crossing by Egypt is a sign that the neighboring Arab states can no longer be a party to the long slow starvation of Palestinian people in the name of security.

So it seems that Mr. Netanyahu’s deep space logic will soon stop making any sense to most of the world and to quite a few of his own citizens; this will happen because increasingly people have started feeling more comfortable with earth logic and want to see their leaders to make an effort in speaking in human-speak instead of an alien language that only makes sense to the starry-eyed US lawmakers and the zealots who rely on politics fear and hate to maintain the status quo.

So, wake up America: if freedom and human dignity is your main chant and leading mantra then please explain to me why it does not apply to the Palestinians?

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The 71st Pakistan Resolution Day and the Veiled Woman in the Picture

In my search for visual sources on the events of the 1940 Lahore Resolution, I accidentally found this picture, of all places, on Wikipedia.

 

 

Obviously, this is the official picture of the delegates taken after the Lahore resolution had been passed. We can recognize and name almost all the prominent male figures in the picture as they are amply recorded in our history. But the woman in her head-to-toe black burka is a mystery both literally, for we cannot see her face, and metaphorically because she is elided from our history.

Who was this woman? Did she participate in the discussions about the future of a Muslim state? And if so, did she represent the women of this future Muslim state?

I can only place her through association as if she, a woman, has no individual subjectivity free of reference. As if she can only be a dark contrasting shadow, a specter, in an otherwise bright frame. She obviously is not related to the man on her left, as there is a wider space between them. She was probably related to the man to her right, as the distance between them is negligible, their hands almost touching. It is hard to see her as a presence in her own right. But she is there in this most historical picture of Pakistani history recorded as a “dark” presence on the most auspicious day of Pakistan’s fight for independence.

Should I read her symbolically: as an emblem of women’s future in Pakistan, as the unresolved question that haunts Pakistan today, as an assertion for inclusion in history. What does her presence teach us? Is it a reminder? Is her presence a splinter in the flank of this group, for she is literally on the right flank, not too deeply lodged in the heart of the group but still struck in the collective corporate body of the “group” (for this is a group photo) as a constant reminder: “I was there” she seems to be saying “when you men were deciding our destiny.” A fact that we should remember so that we can acknowledge the existence of women—a majority—in our national space, not as an unresolved problem, or as secondary passive citizens but as equal inheritors of a nation imagined and demanded on march 23, 1940.

In our historical education about the creation of Pakistan, we learned about the exploits of pretty much all the male leaders present in this picture; we have seen their larger-than-life-posters plastered on city walls. But we have never heard or read a single word about this woman, who, let us not forget, was present that day when history was being made. What do her erasure and her silencing teach us?

So, on this day let us resolve to retrieve her story; let us stand against all those with a patriarchal and chauvinistic view of history. Let us move this spectral figure to the very heart of the group. Yes to the center, right next to Mr. Jinnah.

—–

[As Muhammad Ahmed, one of our readers in commens below,  informed us, her name is  Begum Amjadi Bano, wife of Maulana Maulana Muhammad Ali:

http://www.kahopakistan.com/showthread.php?4364-Amjadi-Bano-Begum-Muhammad-Ali

http://www.nazariapak.info/quaid/female_leadership.html]

 

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