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America, We Feel Your Pain, Do You Feel Ours?
http://www.iviews.com

Published Monday September 24, 2001

By Ramzy Baroud

A six-year-old Palestinian girl knelt and nervously, yet gently laid a flower next to hundreds of other flowers, banners and candles during a small vigil held in Jerusalem. The ceremony was not for another funeral of a Palestinian killed by Israeli troops, but rather an observance of the tragedy that took the lives of Americans in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.

But unlike the images of a handful of Palestinians rejoicing at the news of the attacks, these impromptu memorial services were never seen.

Indeed, 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, the same fifteen seconds of video of 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.

Oddly enough, every major American news network, each taking pride in running their own exclusive footage had no problem showing the exact same video, over and over.

A quick but inaccurate conclusion was drawn: Palestinians rejoice at the sight of suffering Americans.

Many Muslims and Arabs were so shocked to see such celebrating in the face of such a tragedy, that some even suggested the video was ten years old.

Regardless, a handful of Palestinians do not represent the millions of others, many of whom are also American citizens.

But to put their celebrations into perspective, one need not look further than the days following the Gulf War.

The American army had just returned from a mission in the Middle East. Former President George Bush described the nature of the mission as one which would "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 sometimes 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, they were heroes.

And right in New York, where a portion of the city now stands in dust and rubble, in the days after the Gulf War, hundreds of thousands took to the streets and sang the Star Spangled Banner for the returning soldiers.

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 the strikes against Iraq was a battle between good and evil and that good had won.

Iraqis might have not been able to watch the celebrations in the United States; by that time; their houses were reduced to rubble, their dearest possessions were sold in the black market to buy food, and their electricity was cut off because they had been "bombed back to the stone age."

The attacks on the United States were horrible even though they lasted for just a few short hours, but the Palestinian tragedy has lasted for generations.

For 53 years now, Palestinians have been subjected to torture, forced to live in concentration camps, subjected to polluted drinking water, and forced to watch as their homes were razed and their futures were shattered.

Many of their leaders were to flee for their lives, while others were imprisoned, tortured, and assassinated.

Not one day in the calendar passes without a new tragedy. Palestinians take to the streets to protest the killing of a child, only to return home carrying the body of another shot dead by Israeli troops during the demonstrations.

Tragically, every bullet that killed a Palestinian was made and financed by the U.S.

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 denied the fact that Israel is using US supplied arms to assassinate Palestinians did not violate US laws on arms exports.

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 release colored balloons and throw confetti. Instead, 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.

Meanwhile, 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 who ,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.