Only Palestinians can be victims

Iran assassinates Iraqis and Lebanese, world focuses on “provocations” in Jerusalem

Tunis, 2018 — Yours truly, third from left, and Husham al-Hashim, who was gunned down by Iran militias in Baghdad, fifth from left. Iraqis, Lebanese and Syrians are asked to forget Iran’s assassinations targeting them and instead focus on what rally was held at which street in Jerusalem.

Last week, Iraqi law enforcement arrested senior pro-Iran militia commander in Iraq, Qassim Moslih, and took him to court, where the Iraqi intelligence agency presented damning evidence — including surveillance recordings — that proved Moslih ordered the assassination of over a dozen Iraqi activists. Friends and families of victims felt relief that justice was being finally served. But not so fast.

This week, Iran militias in Baghdad assassinated Nebras Shaaban, a colonel with the Iraqi intel agency who had played an instrumental role in convincing an Iraqi court to issue a warrant for Moslih’s arrest. A day after the assassination, the Iraqi government caved and dismissed the case against the pro-Iran assassin, who was promptly released, much to the chagrin of friends and families of his victims.

But do not expect US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, or the “Israel is Apartheid” crowd, to say a word against the Iran regime’s injustice that is befalling the Iraqis, the Lebanese, the Syrians, or anybody else. Instead, the anti-Israel chorus continue to make noise over injustice that is befalling Palestinians, as if — around the world — only Palestinians suffer injustice. Everybody else are just no ones whose stories rarely make it to the news.

Starting 1948, many Arabs made of Palestine their “central cause,” which was understandable given that most Arab countries were living in relative peace at the time.

But since then, wars in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen have made Palestine look like a teenage fistfight in the neighborhood. The number of dead in wars in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, since 2000, dwarf the number of all victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the 1930s. The number of displaced Syrians, Lebanese and Iraqis makes the number of Palestinian refugees look puny. The number of Iraqis, Lebanese and Syrians living in Diaspora is many times bigger than the Palestinian Diaspora. 

And yet, the Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis are supposed to stay focused on Palestine and the Palestinians, or be accused of selling out to imperialism — America, the West and Israel. On the day Iran assassinated Iraqi intel colonel Shaaban, Israel arrested a Palestinian journalist for a few hours, during which hell broke loose around the globe. A girl from one of the families that might be evicted in Sheikh Jarrah was also arrested for a few hours and released, and that made headlines worldwide.

But the assassination of Iraqi and Lebanese activists, two of whom were dear friends — Husham Al-Hashim in Iraq and Lokman Slim in Lebanon — barely made it to the news, and when such news did, murders were depicted as part of a bigger conflict between America and Iran, thus absolving the criminals and assigning part of the blame on America. In fact in the report on the assassination of Slim, The New York Times avoided to call Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even though the pro-Iran Lebanese party was classified terrorist by former President Bill Clinton in 1996. Under US law, Hezbollah is terrorist, but The New York Times only reported that “the United States… considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization.” Apparently, the Times does not.

Many Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis have had it with Palestine being the “central cause.” In fact, the Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis envy the Palestinians for their luck in having to deal with Israel, not with Saddam, Assad or pro-Iran militias. If Sheikh Jarrah was in Syria, Assad would have bombed it into smithereens. The Palestinian journalist and activist would have vanished, perhaps with their throats found floating in River Orontes.

The Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis are facing assassinations, bombing, displacement and poverty, but yet, are asked to focus — not on their suffering — but on which family got evicted in which neighborhood in Jerusalem. 

The world is now also invited to keep an eye — not on the tragedies that non-Palestinians are facing — but in which street Israeli Right wingers hold their rally. If these Right wingers march through the Damascus Gate, Hamas, and its friends in the US and worldwide, threaten Israel with hell. 

But why? 

Why are families risking evicting in Jerusalem, after spending 40 years in litigation, a bigger problem that Iraqi and Lebanese activists being gunned down like targets in a shooting range? Who cares on which street whichever rally happens on the globe? How are these silly issues a “central cause” compared to the tragedies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.