The time of causes is long gone..
I was dining with some friends at a Lebanese restaurant in Manhattan. I stepped out to smoke a cigarette with Mike, a Palestinian guy who has been living in the US most of his life. He was a very frail boy with a lot of determination and a lot of dignity. He had a trait that you can never miss in young Palestinian men. The children of the silent revolution and the brothers of the Intifada kids all had the same look. They all had this silent sadness about them. This feeling of never belonging and never complaining but revolting on the inside that strikes you as you spot one of them. They are the children of heroic fathers, never afraid of death. They are the children of heroic strong mothers, Jean Genet characters for mothers, women fighting next to men, feeding their children the love of the earth with every drop of milk. We had stepped out for me to calm down. I had just realized what Carl, the Lebanese guy who was at our dinner table, does for a living. I almost couldn’t look at him anymore when he told me that he worked as an informant for the army. Charlie joined us. Charlie was also a Lebanese man who is residing in the country for the lack of something he could do back home. He agreed when I told him that he is only hiding here and that there was nothing holding him from going back. I do not know what happened to Charlie after that. He was a chunky little man wearing a cheap suit that night. He gave fake smiles left and right and stroked his sweaty palms waiting for tip from the gentlemen at my table. Right then and there you could sum him up as the opportunistic money-loving man he was. They told me to calm down about Carl. I could not understand how I could. I was never an advocate of war or killing or being a tool of taking any life. When you grow up in a time of war though and you see massacres being committed in the name of occupation towards you and your race, you become an advocate of retaliation.
- I think our men are heroes and they fight with what they have. I think the men fighting in our south and in Palestine are no different than those kids throwing stones, a man with no power is like a kid with all the passion and drive and innocence, the difference though is that they know their cause and they know their logic and they protect their land. It is only considered terrorism, when we are defending ourselves with our bodies, because it is not organized crime like what they commit against us.
I let out some of my feelings that night and I was called naïve and idealistic. Charlie only cared about money and he would sell his mother for some bucks. I was hoping Mike would support me on this. To my surprise he took the same position as Charlie.
- What land he said and what cause? People are in despair and they are hungry. People died and struggled and got humiliated and stranded for life for the name of a cause that was an illusion, a gold mine for the politicians and the so-called leaders. People are just poor and hungry. I guarantee you it would be a much better solution for all these families in the camps in Lebanon and in Palestine to be compensated and they would sell the cause to live. People just want to live.
- To live persecuted? To live without dignity?
- We are so egoistic in our idealistic views and we sit back here and expect those families not to give up when all they care about by now is to have some of what you have.
- We all live the burden of hypocrisy I guess. I would not go as far as Carl did and be a traitor.
- But what is being done right now is that they are trying to put an end to those extremists who are executing operations throughout the world, killing innocent people and having nothing to do with the Palestinian situation.
- What about the war in Iraq? Some of these Arabic men are working against the situation is Iraq. I had a roommate who came up to me one day asking me to teach him Arabic. I said I might and when I asked what he needs to learn it for, he told me that he will enroll in the army and will go to fight in Iraq. I explained to him that he was asking me to arm him against my people. He did not see what I meant. He came back one day saying that he only needed some clarifications about a couple of sentences. I thought he would never learn Arabic and there was no harm in helping him with a sentence or two. He had downloaded pages from the internet that translate war lingo into Arabic. I was disgusted as I was reading it. Sentences like, oksof l3adow, kill the enemy. Who is the enemy? It is us. Then I thought who did this? Who wrote this and could not look at it for a minute. Your friend there, sir, is doing exactly that. How can I forgive him for that?
- I am telling you, you are naïve
- I surely hope the world still has enough naïve people.
The time of causes might be gone but can you forgive?
What is the extent of our involvement or lack of it?
And if we are not helping, how could we help the offender?