Novelist Susan Abulhawa Saw Something True that Everyone Else Missed — "Merkel and the Palestinian Girl" — and My Larger Point that Our Actions and Omissions Have Consequences that We Intentionally Avoid Holding Ourselves Accountable for

© 2015 Peter Free


21 July 2015



Deceit mixed with self-righteous hypocrisy constitutes the world’s dominating currency


Staying oriented with regard to truth requires us to remember and connect the dots that mark our trails through History.


Take German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recently televised back and forth with a Palestinian refugee girl. In novelist Susan Abulhawa words:



On Tuesday, July 14, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared on a television program called “Good Life in Germany” in which she spoke to local teenagers. Among the audience was 13-year old Reem, a Palestinian refugee who fled their camp in Lebanon four years ago.


In a shaky voice of fluent German, young Reem said, “I have goals like everyone else…I want to go to university.” But, she explained, she and her family are facing deportation. “It’s very unpleasant to see how others can enjoy life, and I can’t myself,” she said, “I want to study like them.”


Chancellor Merkel responded with the standard western fear of immigrants. She said if Germany allows her to stay, there would be thousands of Palestinian refugees, then thousands from “Africa” . . . who will flood into Germany. “We can’t cope with that,” she said.


Young Reem crumbled into sobs and the footage of her interaction with Chancellor Merkel went viral.


Leftist pundits decried the chancellor as heartless, insisting on Europe’s humanitarian responsibility toward the wretched of the earth.


Right leaning pundits reflected Merkel’s sentiments that Europe has enough to worry about and should not be expected to shoulder the world’s problems.


Others were simply pragmatic . . . “we’re reaching the limits of our capacity.”


All these analyses missed the most important point.


Not one of them touched on the fact that Reem is a refugee directly and indirectly because of German actions.


Reem, and . . . thousands upon thousands of Palestinian refugees . . . are stateless precisely because Germany, along with other western nations, continue to support zionist colonialism that expelled, and continues to expel, native Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.


© 2015 Susan Abulhawa, Merkel and the Palestinian Refugee Girl: Why Everyone Missed the Point, CounterPunch (20 July 2015) (extracts)


Abulhawa’s point is irrefutable. After plopping Israel into a geographic place already occupied, the “West” has staunchly turned a blind eye to Zionism’s often violent expansion of oppression into still more of the area.


For the West, Israel’s excuse that “those guys are out to get us” is sufficient to excuse its violations of international law and previous agreements. And for its inflammatory part, Palestinian terrorists throw rockets and suicide bombings on the emotional fire, so as to ensure that all traces of Reason flee the region.



The point is not that Israel is evil


The issue is that the Palestinian “problem” was foreseeable and the West created and irresponsibly continues to sustain its pain. Susan Abulhawa is correct. We owe displaced Palestinians a higher duty than other random immigrants.


Germany especially, as the sole creator of the Holocaust — which directly motivated the creation of Israel and indirectly caused the displacement and oppression of Palestinians — cannot very well abstractly lump the average Palestinian refugee in with hypothetical immigrants from unnamed and depersonalized nations on the African continent.


As former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell once said — with regard to Iraq — “If you beak it, you own it.” The West broke Palestine and has spent the decades afterward pretending that it did not. There are moral as well as Realpolitik implications to this.



The moral? — Deceit-filled avoidance oozes from everything political and military leaders touch


The most basic ethical point that any human being can learn is to hold oneself accountable for the trouble and pain that one causes. That is true even in the Realpolitik sense because foreseeing the consequences of the nation’s actions and omissions is a vital part of intelligent strategic planning.


Thus, it is no wonder that “Refugee Reem” cried. She is 13 and on her own, due to the actions of the long line of insensate fools who irresponsibly set the Middle Eastern domino chain falling without the slightest supervision.


Germany and the United States are prominently responsible for the current state of Palestinian affairs and both should be doing significantly more to ameliorate the suffering that their past and continuing actions have caused. American imperialism and Israeli Zionism continue to be expanding sores that foster violently uncontrollable Islamic responses that do nobody, except the Military Industrial Complex, any good.


But (in truth) it is psychically easier to avoid this sense of obligation by pretending not to see the facts that should have generated it. Just as the Chancellor did with Reem and just as Americans continue to with regard to the full and despair-filled scope of our own Military Industrial Complex depredations abroad.


Perhaps it takes a novelist to see the moral, spiritual and downstream connections that most people miss.