Clement Attlee Suite
Houses of Parliament
To highlight suffering is one thing, to alleviate suffering yet another. To bring an end to suffering must be the primary reflex for moral action undertaken by persons that will not tolerate institutional accord with determinate and recorded crime by a nation state, in this case the State of Israel. Israel’s meticulously planned crimes against the women and children of Palestine archived, yet accorded perverse recognition by institutional complicity to an illegal occupation.
Palestinian suffering and sorrow bleed into a international fallow, rigid corrugated land, that will not be toiled and accommodates an historic injustice that constitutes possibly, the most egregious of crimes against humanity in modern times. Wither the flowers in a political desert without the water of justice, without the nurturing waters of love.
Jordan is one of the driest nations on earth. Yet into this land, millions of displaced refugees pour. Refugees languish. Both Palestinian (some with Jordanian citizenship) and Syrian refugees, in bone dry Jordan where “83 percent of Syrian refugees live in cities and towns, further straining the limited water supply.” What then of the Palestinian refugees? What then of Jordan in the lengthening gloom of apartheid Israel’s plans for a greater expansion, stealing water -also from Jordan-  as it colonises. ‘Greater’ Israel degrading others, degrading land as it degrades itself.
In Palestine and particularly Gaza, childhood has strayed into the ‘twilight’ and innocence into the shadows of a history, where now a Middle East is the theatre of war for super power violence that could end all hope of human progress, let alone Justice for Palestinians. Israel has played its malevolent part. This is a matter of record. It is a matter of truth.
It, suffering, was the underlying subjectivity infusing the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) event at Portcullis House October 10th on an autumn evening, or was that confluent subjectivity just mine? As the astronomical fall (Northern Hemisphere), beginning on Thursday, September 22 was beckoning the call of winter along with my discontent as to the continued deep freeze of a mythical peace process.
And to echo Fisk ‘the refugees, the refugees, the refugees’. Flagrant abuse of human rights, the tautology of the shibboleths were to be captured in the Clement Attlee Suite, only for a fleeting moment, but at the least we turned up to hear the whispers of abuse. Can you hear the whispers? Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid. Sequestering evil requires will. Israel has this in abundance. Its exposing requires love. Do we have this in abundance?
In nature there’s no blemish but the mind.
None can be called deformed but the unkind.
And yet, yes, and yet, suffering though it may be a “Deep, unspeakable suffering [it] may well be called baptism, a regeneration, the initiation into a new state.” (Eliot George). May it be a Palestinian State. May the suffering of the refugees in Jordan end.
I had arrived early at Portcullis House. Opened in 2001, this democratic parliamentary annexation -sorry annex- gives provision for around 213 parliamentary members to prepare their views with assembled staff to expedite the values of progressive democracy. Just joking. The noun says it all. Portcullis: “a strong, heavy grating that can be lowered down grooves on each side of a gateway to block it.” Democracy? Still, the PRC had chosen the Clement Attlee Suite within the drawn up portcullis to discuss the bleak situation for Palestinian refugees in Jordan.
Clement Attlee’s spirit was en-suite. He had refused in 1945 though (pressured by Truman) to allow around 100.000 Jews into historical Palestine. The Jews should have been welcomed into Britain, allowed into the USA. In 1946 Attlee had called for a conference to discuss the move and to involve both Jewish and Arab representatives for more substantive talks. Attlee’s concerns then, now proven in history, were that such a lack of Jewish Arab comity would, in the end, mean “the loss of still more lives in Palestine.” The actions of the ‘militant’ Irgun and ‘paramilitary organization’ Haganah were organising for 1948 and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Was this perhaps sensed by Attlee?
Who really knows? The Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, who suffering daily torment from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ask their parents ‘when am I going to die’, as the fabric of Palestinian society is ripped apart. Most in Gaza are refugees, living under appalling conditions. One asks when will the next systematically planned onslaught of Gaza, by Israel’s IDF begin? As the intelligence net works of Jordan, Egypt, Israel (and complicit Palestinian leadership) plan to contain in a fire storm the innocent men, women, and children of the prison that is Gaza.
The chair for the evening was the SNP member Dr Paul Monaghan MP. The influential and formidable Sameh Habeed, Head of Media and PR for PRC, informed that even though over 2 million Palestinians are registered in Jordan and that amongst other figures “Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestine refugees of all the UNWRA fields” the “Palestinians will continue to resist Israel’s attempts to use Jordan as an alternative homeland for Palestine.”
Ms Jinan Bastaki, PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies spoke of layers of international law, political problems for return. But, under “international law Palestinians accepting citizenship in Jordan, or in other host countries, does not affect their right of return.” Dead right: “Israel’s admission to the UN was conditional on its acceptance of UN resolutions including 194. Denying the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands is a war crime and an act of aggression which demands action by the international community.” (PRC).
Dr Nadia Naser -Najjab gave me the feeling of hopelessness from a mind of academic associations not compelling of any just resolution. Next was Mr Daifallah Al-Fayaz, Deputy Chief of Mission, from the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the UK. What was he going to say? The same as the others no solutions, only stop gaps, problems of law, problems of water, problems of refugee haemorrhaging, problem after problem, created and sustained by constant Israeli criminality and international complicity.
And so it was, and so it is, and so will it remain until Israel and the international community accord sanctuary to law and its provision for morality.
However, as I sit in heartache for the lost, displaced, murdered children of Palestine and all refugees Palestinian and Syrian in Jordan, I finish with Noam Chomsky: “In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid.” Chomsky says, according to Days of Palestine, “To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by ‘apartheid’ you mean South African-style apartheid. “What is happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse. There is a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce … “The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just do not want them. They want them out, or at least in prison.”
 William Shakespeare, Antonio. Twelfth Night, act 3, sc.1, 1.374.
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