Canadian Arab News
April 28, 2005
Restorative justice is a wonderful thing. It does the heart good to see people who have been wronged get some measure of justice. Even though “justice delayed is justice denied,” “better late than never” does assuage the suffering somewhat and give evidence that standards of justice still mean something.
Jews know this scenario very well, as even today the media frequently reports stories of a lawyer somewhere winning a multi-million-dollar compensation package from a German or Swiss bank or business. The most recent recipient of restorative justice was the Bentley family of British Columbia—the founders of Canadian Forest Products—and their relatives. A Brooklyn judge awarded them US$21 million after finding that in 1938 a Swiss bank gave the Nazis the family’s large sugar business, which it held in trust.
Beyond the beneficial specifics of this and other cases, the prominence we afford them is conspicuously bigoted. The Western world—the entire world—is expected to bend over backwards to recoup every pfennig, centime or franc that may be owed to a European (Ashkenazi) Jew, yet it does nothing to help Palestinians who suffered equal injustices at the hands of a brutal, racist colonizer. In fact, we are supposed to deny that Palestinians have any claim at all.
Yet they do, and their claims are every bit as legitimate as those of Jews. McMaster University economics professor Atif Kubursi, during a conference on refugees at Boston University Law School five years ago, presented a meticulous break-down of the loss incurred during the 1947–48 zionist attack. Including a modest four percent annual interest rate, he calculated property losses to be $146 billion, lost income $300 billion, and psychological losses $281 billion.* Moshe Dayan even told Ha’aretz (April 4, 1969) that not a single place built in Israel did not have a former Arab population.
Unlike the Nazis who stole from the Ashkenazim, the Ashkenazim who stole from the Palestinians made little or no attempt to hide their criminality. The best sources of zionist war crimes are zionists themselves because they knew the world would do nothing about it. The dogma of the “Jewish homeland” became accepted as fact, and institutionalized guilt over “The Holocaust” made defence of Palestinian rights impossible. That impossibility does not allow us to recognize Palestinian suffering for what it is—genocide.
Tanya Reinhart, professor of linguistics and media studies at Tel Aviv University and Utrecht, gives a succinct description:
“What is happening in the Territories is a process of slow and steady genocide. People die from being shot and killed, many die from their wounds—the number of wounded is enormous, it is in the tens of thousands. Often, people cannot get medical treatment, so someone with a heart attack will die at a roadblock because they can not get to the hospital. There is a serious shortage of food, so there is malnutrition of children. The Palestinian society is dying—daily—and there is hardly any awareness of this in Israeli society.”†
Awareness is especially problematic in North America, where zionist-owned or otherwise pro-zionist media do not reflect the true horrors of the Occupation. The most effective means to distract the world from the real genocide in Palestine is to over-report a manufactured genocide in Darfur, Sudan. In June 2004, Doctors without Borders/ Médecins sans Frontières President Dr. Jean-Hervé Bradol refuted Bush administration assertions of genocide:
“Since Médecins Sans Frontières started working in Darfur in December 2003, teams have not witnessed the intention to kill all individuals of a particular group. We have information about massacres, but never any attempt to eliminate all the members of a specific group.”§
That didn’t stop Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell from continuing to cry “genocide” three months thereafter, much to glee of the radical and certifiably insane Christian Lobby. Their crusade is to portray the violence in Darfur, not as the general civilian repression as Bradol says it is, but as Muslim persecution against Christians. This is patent nonsense because Muslims on both sides are dying.
The government and media in the U.S., and hence Canada, are pushing this misrepresentation because the military forces and militias in Darfur are Muslim. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canada go out of their way to deny the real genocide in Occupied Palestine because the victims are Muslim.
It seems that only people who can claim to be victims of genocide have a chance of receiving any justice, but “genocide” is a political term. Do Arabs not bleed and suffer as Jews do? Do Arab cases not merit the same amount of media attention?
Our obligatory crowing about Jewish Nazi-era restitution is shamefully myopic because it betrays our refusal to treat Arabs with the same dignity as we do Jews. Perhaps only when the Occupation is formally acknowledged as a genocide will the courts care enough to seek overdue justice for Palestinians.
I’ve had a couple of interesting responses to my April 14 column “Canada’s self-respect is an election issue, and voters (sigh!) have no choice,” which I will address next time. _________
* See Terry Rempel “Compensation for Palestinian Refugees,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XXIX, Autumn 1999; and ADC Times, April/May 2000, p. 5.
† Tanya Reinhart “A Slow, Steady Genocide” interviewed by Jon Elmer, ZNet, Sept. 11, 2003.
§ David Hoile “Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières Challenges U.S. Darfur Genocide Claim,” mediamonitors.net, Oct. 4, 2004.§ Greg Myre, “Abbas Denounces Israel After Tank Fire Kills 7 Youths,” New York Times, Jan. 5, 2005.