Dr. Yasser Dasmabebi holds the Edward Said-Noam Chomsky Linguistics Chair at Abdul Abulbul Amir University in Cairo. He is also presently serving as Visiting Professor at the I. S. Skavar Institute in Moscow.
Why did I become a linguist? I seem to have inherited the traditional Arabic love of language and poetry. As Phillip Hitti wrote in his book, History of the Arabs:
No people in the world manifest such enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and are so moved by the word, spoken or written, as the Arabs. Modern audiences in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo can be stirred to the highest degree by the recital of poems.
Ah! Who could fail to be stirred by the rhythms and melodies of thousands of poetry lovers marching down the streets of our cities chanting in unison:
Death To America!
Death to the Great Satan!
Death To Israel!
Death to the Little Satan!
And naturally, as our Palestinian national culture has exploded onto the world stage (so to speak) and now has come to embody a more mature wisdom and calm that anyone can plainly see in the conduct of public life in Palestine, the appreciation for the use of language to the fullest extent of purity of purpose, clarity of vision, subtle nuance, harmonic overtone, mellifluous allusions have likewise matured and deepened. All this inspires a linguistic heart such as mine to sing!
So, in the service of creating a discourse for which the expression of the yearning for peace and brotherly love are the ultimate fulfillment, and for which Palestinian society is universally known, I have compiled a short, though naturally far-from-complete, list of quotations from notable Palestinian political and devout religious leaders — almost all of whose salaries are paid by Palestinian governing bodies, and whose money is therefore donated by European and American governments, and thus by you, the taxpayers — SHUKRAN! –, who yearn for nothing more than a Jew-free country living in peace and harmony, so that we can return to our first love: reading and reciting beautiful poetry.
I must ask your forbearance, for many of these statements inevitably lose a bit of their inherent beauty and majesty in translation. Furthermore, it is far from easy to compile such a list, the more for what must be omitted than for what may be included, there being such a plethora of rich material. Please consider mine but a meager offering, a beginning, and, more importantly, a small contribution to the dream of Peace in Our Time.
In honor of our grand poetic tradition, I must begin with a venerable work, already cited this week at FrontPage Magazine:
3-1-44: Haj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem: “Arise, Oh Sons of Arabia! Fight for your sacred rights. Slaughter Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, our history and our religion. That will save our honor.” (The Grand Mufti, a true prophet, was fighting the occupation a full 23 years before it began!)
– 2006: Yasser Ghalban, Hamas leader: “The Jihad for Allah is the way of the truth and the way for salvation and the way which will lead us to crush the Jews…”
– 12-3-2008: Imam Safwat Higazi: “Dispatch those sons of apes and pigs to the Hellfire on the wings of Qassam rockets.”
– 5-15-2009: Dr Wafa Musa, psychologist (!): “The Jews deserved their annihilation by Hitler.”
– 9-1-09: PA Presidential advisor Omar Al-Ghoul: “Israel is a rogue country trafficking in the organs of Palestinians it kills.” (Note — notice the beautiful congruence of the poet’s name — “al- Ghoul” — with the content of his speech. How indeed can one not be moved by the utter beauty!)
– 11-15-09: Tawfik al Tirawi, PA Security Chief: “Israel recruits Palestinians to sexually harrass their sisters and mothers.”
– 1-29-10: Al Aqsa TV (PA TV): “Even if donkeys cease to bray, the Jews will not cease to be hostile to the Muslems.”
– 2-28-10: Al Aqsa TV, Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments, Abdallah Jarbu: “Jews are bacteria, not human beings.” (…reflecting Palestinian commitment to medical research and healing by means of research into bacteriology.)
– 3-31-10: Al Aqsa TV, Dr Salah Sultan, President of American Center for Islamic Research: “Jews murder non-Jews and use their blood to knead Passover matzos.” (Yum!)
– 4-25-10: Al Aqsa TV, Bassam Abu Sharif, Advisor to Yasser Arafat: “Israel assasinated JFK.”
– 5-5-10: Yasser Arafat: “Israel uses depleted uranium to cause cancer and infertility.”
– 6-5-10: Imam Salem Abu Al-Futuoh: “The Jews use human blood in Passover and wedding ceremonies.”
– 8-25-10: Al Aqsa TV: “Muslems should wage jihad to liberate the Al Aqsa mosque from the filth of the Jews, the brothers of apes and pigs.”
– 9-3-10: Imam Sheik Ismail Aal Radhwan: “Those who negotiate with Israel will be gathered in the hell-fire along with the apes and pigs.”
– 3-19-11: Al Aqsa TV: Deputy Minister Religious Endowments, Abdallah Jarbu: “Only a madman would think Jews are human.”
– 5-11-11: Imam Yunis Al-Astal: “The Jews were brought to Palestine for the Great Massacre through which Allah will relieve humanity of their evil.”
– 5-17-11: Imam Yasser Qachlaq: “…Human filth…”
– 7-18-11: Imam Safwat Higazi: “The foreign riffraff who live in Palestine are not really Jews; they have brought corruption and evil upon the world ever since trying to kill Christ.”
– 8-11: ‘Atallah Abu al-Subh: “The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the earth.”
– 9-20-11: Muhammed Abdu: “Israel, that plundering, crude, cruel and criminal [notice the artful alliteration!] entity, which wants to devour the remainder of our lands…Oh! sons of a sow, your hands are soiled with the blood of the people…!”
– 9-23-11: Ahmad Bahr, speaker Hamas Gaza Parliament: “We will sweep the siblings of pigs and apes out of our land.”
– 10-19-11: Khalil Al-Khayeh, Gaza legislator: “The heroes of the knife, the heros of martyrdom operations, Jihad and the resistance.”
– 10-25-11: Khodhr Habib [which, appropriately, means "Friend" in Arabic]: Islamic Jihad, Gaza: “We will give you nothing but bombs, spears and swords, which will slit your throats.”
– 11-8-11: Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade: “The number of heroic operations reached 4,300…which included 61 martyrdom operations [i.e., suicide attacks], 24 abductions, 230 armed clashes, 33 incursions, 423 bombing operations, 90 sniping operations, 146 ambushes, and 25 raids on Zionist targets.”
But the winner of our annual Helen Thomas Award for Poetry must go to the eloquent Dear Leader:
– 10-23-11: Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority:
“I will never recognize a Jewish State.”
…Peace In Our Time…
*** Note: Special appreciation for the work of the REAL LINGUISTS at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI.org). MEMRI translators bring to light pronouncements of officials and media not only from the original Arabic, but also from Farsi, Urdu, Turkish, Pashti and other languages. Their work illuminates that which the leaders and media of the Muslem world are actually saying to one another and to their people in their own languages as opposed to that which they are mumbling to us in English, and that which our major media, for whatever their motives, are and are not reporting to us!