The horrific scenes from the devastating earthquakes and aftershocks in Turkey and Syria this week, which left tens of thousands of people killed and injured, not to mention lifelong work gone in minutes, just humble us and put everything we do into a new perspective. Pain, agony, torment, and misery are emotions that transcend nationalities and politics. That’s what a decent person is supposed to think, right? Well then what the hell was the publisher of Charlie Hebdo magazine thinking when he mocked the victims of the Turkey-Syria earthquake in a satirical cartoon? How low can some people go? Freedom of speech must stop when it becomes a knife that stabs people in the heart.
Racism is here. It’s everywhere, in fact. Ask us Palestinians. Ironically, the scary part is that racists – past and present – continue to win democratically held elections all over the world. Israel today has avowed racists essentially in control of the government. According to an article published in the January issue of This Week in Palestine, “Throughout the years, Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has gathered over 65 Israeli laws that violate the rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel and Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) based on their national belonging. These laws limit their rights in all areas of life, from citizenship and residency rights to the right to political participation, land and housing, education, culture and language, religious rights, and due process rights during detention, especially on alleged security-related charges.” And all that happened before Israel’s current right-wing government was sworn in!
What makes people believe that they are superior to others on the basis of certain characteristics that they possess or their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group? It’s beyond me! But, it’s encouraging and even gives us hope when we see racist leaders booted out of power as was the case a couple of months ago in Brazil. Ousting Donald Trump is another example, but I’m not sure that his replacement, although not a racist, is any better – at least for us Palestinians. Actually, I know he’s not. Thank God that racists in any country still seem to be a minority, even in France, though the racism of Charlie Hebdo is certainly evident. I believe that racists will ultimately bring about the demise of their own country if allowed to “roam” freely.
People generally think that calamities only happen to others. The earthquake in Turkey and Syria is a stark reminder that we’re all equal when nature is angry.
Long live Palestine!
Por Sani Meo