America, We Feel your Pain, Do you Feel Ours?

By Ramzy Baroud
Posted: 28 Jamad-u-Thani 1422, 16 September 2001

A six year old Palestinian girl kneeled and nervously, yet gently laid a flower to join hundreds of other flowers, banners and candles in a small vigil held in Jerusalem to commemorate the death of thousands of Americans in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.

The little girl rushed back, bashful, and held on her mother's hand and both stood quietly gazing at a burning candle.

At the scene, only a few reporters gathered, none of them represented foreign agencies; they were all Arabs and Palestinians.

But Americans who witnessed the world weeping for their victims, never learned of the deep sympathy that was felt by many Palestinians across Palestine and around the world.

However, they did see, with horror and dismay, a few Palestinian children dancing on an old car, two men shooting in the air and an old woman with thick spectacles waving her arms, in celebration of the attacks, we were told.

Every major American news network prides itself with having its own exclusive footage and reporting. When it came to the scene of the dozen dancing Palestinians, they were willing to share the report, which was syndicated all over the world, and aired endlessly.

A quick conclusion was drawn: Palestinians dance on the pain of Americans.

Even if the short report was accurate, a few kids and an old woman hardly represent the Palestinian population, which consists of millions of people, tens of thousands of them are also American citizens.

If your grief and pain allow you to roll the tape of memory a few years back, try to remember New York City following the Gulf War in 1991.

The American army had just returned from a mission in the Middle East. Former President George Bush described the nature of the mission once on TV, so bluntly and in simple terms, to "bomb Iraq back to the stone age."

Mission accomplished. The American army led the allied forces in the region bombed Iraq for months and killed with no remorse as the whole world watched, and as all Americans watched, the same way they watched the World Trade Center being leveled to the ground.

Those killed in Iraq were mostly civilians, innocent men and women, not any more or less innocent than the New Yorkers who fell to their deaths while sipping their coffee on a seemingly beautiful morning.

American soldiers returned home with hands covered in the blood of civilians, after they bombarded every city, town and village in Iraq, south and north. They used every weapon, they experimented with the highest killing technology against a largely defenseless nation, they bombed, killed, and some times ridiculed their victims.

They were seen on TV loading warplanes with missiles that read "say goodbye Ahmed," "happy Ramadan" and "say hi to Allah."

But when they came, they were not booed; nor were rotten eggs thrown at them; they were celebrated. As far as America was concerned, "our boys and girls" were heroes.

And right in New York, where now half of the city stands in dust and rubble, hundreds of thousands took to the streets, lined up with happy faces and sang the Sparkled Stars for the returning chaps; they cheered and chanted, "USA, USA."

Elsewhere in the United States millions of people celebrated the victory; unlike Palestinians, where only a dozen kids rushed to the streets to celebrate the killing of Americans, nearly every American newspaper, TV station, millions of people, their representatives, young and old danced for the death of Iraqis.

Then, like now, Americans were told that it was a battle between good and evil; the good has won.

Iraqis might have not been able to watch the celebrations in the United States; by that time; their houses were rubble, their dearest possessions were sold in the black market to buy some bread and milk, and their electricity was cut off, for it was too, like their water supplies, hospitals, schools, and every thing else "bombed back to the stone age."

The attacks on the United States was horrid, humanity was in shambles when some people thought they had the right to take the lives of others as an expression of political views, likely, social, or perhaps religious ones.

But the attack lasted for several hours. The Congress three days later assigned $40 billion for emergency funds to rebuild the country, to aid the victims and to secure the country against future attacks.

But the Palestinian tragedy have lasted much more than a few hours; it has lasted for generations.

For 53 years now, Palestinians have been subjected to some of the most notorious military police ever used; for 53 years they were forced to live in concentration camps, to drink polluted water, to have their loved ones killed, their homes razed, their futures shattered, deprived of all God given rights, and even UN given rights. Their were forced to flee for their lives from one place to another, their were imprisoned, tortured, and assassinated.

Not one day in the calendar passes without Palestinians siting a massacre or two. They go to the streets to protest the killing of a child, they return home carrying another after being shot while protesting.

You might think: I am already overwhelmed by my own grief, why should I worry about yours?

The answer is simple. Every bullet that killed a Palestinian was "Made in the USA", every shell, missile, and tank was "Made in the USA." Every massacre was financed by America.

When three thousand Palestinians were killed in the refugee camps of Beirut in 1982, the killers left the camps with piles of skinned bodies, butchered and raped women, and thousands of empty bullet shells, also Made in America.

Even the bulldozers that tried to hide the crimes in mass graves as the killers departed, were supplied by the United States.

Since the creation of the state of Israel in occupied Arab land in 1948, the United States has paid more than $125 billion, to finance the Israeli army, to construct its illegal settlements and to aid a racist state that sustains itself at the expense of a subdued population.

Just two days before the attacks on New York and Washington DC, President George Bush decreed that the fact that Israel is using US supplied arms to assassinate Palestinians doesn't violate the US policy on Arms exports.

After all of this, unlike what you would expect, only a dozen children rushed to the streets to celebrate the death of Americans.

Despite all of this, most Palestinians mourned the death of Americans and were able comprehend the tragedy, for they have been living the tragedy for decades.

Unlike the millions who celebrated the "victory" against Iraq in 1991, Palestinians didn't parade in the streets, they didn't chant "Palestine, Palestine," they did not raise colored balloons and break champagne bottles; but they stood in lines in Ramallah and in Gaza, cities that have been devastated by American made weapons, and donated blood.

The six year old Palestinian girl at the vigil finally went home with her mother. Their trip to Ramallah from Jerusalem, a trip of half an hour, would take hours because of the Israeli military checkpoints. Nonetheless they decided to come and show solidarity with the American victims and their families.

Close to them stood many Israeli soldiers, gazing with suspicion at the mourning family as they tried to find their way home.

The little girl, who is forbidden to carry a Palestinian flag, held a small American flag and appeared enthusiastic for the idea that no soldiers rushed to take her flag away.

Back in the West Bank town of Jenin, thousands of Palestinians desperately tried to defend their community, as the Israeli army bombarded their homes and killed 11 people in a raid that lasted several days.

"The helicopters are back" screamed a Palestinian teenager, as he was armed with a sling shot and a pocket filled with rocks. The people began running in panic to nearby alleyways. Two American-made apache helicopters emerged from behind the hill and showered the fleeing residents with automatic rifle bullets, American-made bullets.