Saturday, May 16, 2009

Give No Ground

"John Seed, the Australian founder of the Rainforest Information Centre, tells of a meeting he had with a group of Australian Aborigines in Sydney. After the meeting, they stepped outside into the night air. The great city spread out before them. One of the Aborigines asked, 'What do you see? What do you see out there?' John looked at the pulsing freeways, towers of anodized glass and steel, ships in the harbor, and replied, 'I see a city. Lights, pavement, skyscrapers...' The Aborigine said quietly, 'We still see the land. Beneath the concrete we know where the forest grows, where the kangaroos graze. We see where the Platypus digs her den, where the streams flow. That city there... it's just a scab. The land remains alive beneath it'." (Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, Dave Foreman, 1991, p 7)

"When a Palestinian Arab speaks of independence 'on equal footing with the Arabs of the neighbouring countries'*, he can but think of a country consisting of three-quarters of a million peasants cultivating their rich orange-groves, their bananas, their cereals, their maize, their sesame, their water-melons, their tobacco, their olives, and their apricots. He pictures to himself the busy sea-ports Jaffa and Haifa, and thinks of the latter's connexions with Iraq and the East. He thinks of the capital and its Holy Places, Muslim and Christian, to which Palestinian sentiment is so deeply attached. If he is a Muslim he thinks also of Ramleh and Acre and of the heroic achievements of Saladin. If he is a Christian he thinks of Bethlehem and Nazareth and of the Lake of Galilee. Above all he thinks of the Palestinian soil of which his civilization is an essential and a congruous part. Palestinian independence with any of these things removed could only be a maimed and halting thing. With almost all of them removed it would be no independence at all." (Nisi Dominus: A Survey of the Palestine Controversy, Nevill Barbour, 1946, pp 179-180)

[*From Britain's 1937 proposal to partition Palestine.]

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