Dear Elie Wiesel: My Response to Elie’s “musings” on Jerusalem
By Mike Odetalla
I hope that you don’t mind me calling by your first name, but after reading your so-called “musings” in a rather expensive ad in the New York Times and other publications on the city of my birth, I feel that we can dispense with the formalities because I believe now I know you very well.
The Holy City of Jerusalem, or Al-Quds, its true and proper Arabic name, which means “The Holy”, is not and has never been a “mythical” place for me; it is the city of my birth and that of my forefathers. My connection to the city is based on simple facts and truths, and not the myths, propaganda, and the outright lies that seem to have permeated and corrupted the minds of the masses. While your mother may have sung you a lullaby about Jerusalem, as you claim, I took my first steps as a baby within its sacred walls on the grounds of Al-Aqsa compound. Going back to Jerusalem is a true “homecoming” for me in the truest sense of the word, even though your brethren in Israel make it as hard as humanely possible.
While you rely on ancient myths, many of which have been discredited by scholars and researchers, some of who are Jewish by the way, as the basis of holding my beloved city captive to the unjust and cruel whims of the racist Zionist ideology, many Palestinians still hold in their possessions the keys to the homes that they were forced to leave and have not been permitted to return to, even though that sacred right is enshrined in International Law and the laws of God himself!
When my children visit Jerusalem and Palestine, it is truly the lands of their ancestors, clear and concrete, from the graves of their forefathers, to the ancient olive trees that they planted many hundreds of years before the Jewish State came to being. They do not have to rely on ancient legends to know their connection and that of their ancestors to the land, they can see, feel, and even “breath” it!
The soil of Jerusalem and Palestine is entwined in my body, mind, and soul. It is right there when I first set foot in the Old City, I can see, smell, and taste it. Jerusalem is present in the olives and oil that I consume from my family’s ancient trees, in the sweet nectar of cool, dew covered apricot on a summer’s morning, the setting sun, and the full moon that lights the hills!
You claim in your AD that “Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And, contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.”
Sir, reading that outright lie, I wonder if you really wrote that or if the Israeli Ministry of Information, had not in fact wrote it for you. Either way, I cannot believe that someone as yourself who prides himself on doing “meticulous” research could write or lend his name to such a statement. Your “credibility” takes the hit!
The fact is that Arab Christians and Muslims are NOT free to worship at their shrines. The patently racist Israeli system of erecting concrete walls, roadblock, and checkpoints makes it virtually impossible for millions of indigenous Palestinian Arabs from ever reaching their Holy Places. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs that can see Jerusalem from their homes, but have a better chance of traveling to the moon that actually visiting the lands of their forefathers.
Also, as the facts, NOT just “certain media” reports bear out, Palestinian Arabs are NOT permitted to “build their homes anywhere in the city”. The sobering and painful fact is that Palestinian homes have been demolished by the thousands, with many more on the list threatening them with destruction. Palestinians Arabs, the rightful owners of the lands are forced to live in cramped homes and cannot build on their OWN lands as the Zionist policies are methodically grinding on in an effort to ethnically cleanse the lands of its indigenous population.
You also claim that “Jews were not willing kill for Jerusalem” which is an outright lie worthy of the Nazi propagandist in their heyday!
You conveniently forget about the massacres and atrocities that were committed by your Zionist brethren (I use the term “brethren” because you seem to identify with Israel and her policies as your own by spreading the myths, propaganda, and out right lies of the so-called “Jewish State”) against the Palestinian Muslim and Christians whereby thousands were massacred, and hundreds of thousands were expelled from their homes, lands, and villages to create the “Jewish State”. Maybe the name Deir Yassein could stir your memory a bit or the village of Lifta, the village of grandmother which overlooks Jerusalem and still stands with empty homes that the Zionist forces saw fit to blow holes in their roofs and floors so as to make them uninhabitable and to discourage their rightful owners from returning to them!
My grandmother’s grave and that of many of her relatives and fellow villagers, is but a stones throw from Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate and overlooks the ancient city walls; the golden Dome of the Rock is clearly visible, and the painful fact is that her living relatives are not even permitted to come and visit her grave site to say a simple prayer. In fact, the population of her entire village was transformed into homeless refugees and she died yearning to return to the village of her ancestors!
You also seem oblivious to the fact that not a day goes by that the Zionist forces do not maim, kill, or destroy Palestinian life and property, and for what? Even the blind can see that the nefarious policies of the Jewish State have one and ONLY one goal, to steal as much land as possible and to make life unbearable for the Palestinian Arabs! You desire the land, BUT NOT the people that are on it, pure and simple.
No Mr. Wiesel IT IS and has always been about “real estate” when it comes to the Zionists and their plans and the only memory they care about is one based on mythology and manufactured history, while ignoring the very REAL memories of the Palestinian Arabs as they seek to usurp not only the lands, but the memories and history of those whose roots pre-date even Judaism itself!
A few years back, a Jewish friend lamented to me that Zionism and its narrative has transformed Israel into a nation that worships not God, but rocks, trees, and soil your call for “putting off such a sensitive issue” is nothing more than the very policy of the racist Israeli state as it continues to devour Palestinian lands and seeks to create such “facts on the ground” that would make the return of Jerusalem to its rightful owners all but impossible! Even as your ad was going to press, the Jewish State was busy with announced plans to build yet more Jewish only colonies on stolen lands, making a mockery of your idiotic “musings” and that of International Law itself!
Instead of dwelling in the lands of myths, open your eyes to what is being done in your name in the Holy Lands. An entire people is being imprisoned and starved in the 21st Century right before your eyes, and yet all you can do is conjure thousand years old legends to justify actions and ideologies that cannot and should not be defended!
Shame on you!
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