Last week Mr. "Change We Can Believe In" Obama sent his best wishes on Israel's birthday.
"Sixty-three years ago," said the president, "when Israel declared its independence, the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland was finally realized. On that same day, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize the State of Israel. As Israelis celebrate their hard-won independence, it gives me great pleasure to extend the best wishes of the American people to the people of Israel and to honor their remarkable achievements over the past six decades."
Barry didn't quite elaborate on the "realized.....hard-won....remarkable achievements" details of all this. Never mentioned the "P" word (Palestinians) in the rest of his birthday greeting.
Nor did he ever bring up the term "al-Nakba," the catastrophe that has consumed the Palestinian nation for the past 63 years and which, by stark contrast, was very much in the news yesterday. Because yesterday, May 15, was the day in 1948 that the Zionists threw their ethnic cleansing operation ("Plan Dalet") into overdrive.
Amongst those three-quarters of a million people driven from their homeland was an 11 year-old Palestinian Christian named Audeh Rantisi, whose family would be brutally force marched from their homes in July, 1948, by Israeli gunmen.
Audeh's recollections are especially shocking--and heart-breaking:
"I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July of 1948. The pain sears my memory, and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try. First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean coast, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries. (My family had been in the town of Lydda in Palestine at least 1,600 years).
Then, without water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days. The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving. Terror filled my eleven-year-old mind as I wondered what would happen. I remembered overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too?
We did not know what to do, except to follow orders and stumble blindly up the rocky hills. I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, who carried our only remaining possessions-a small tin of sugar and some milk for my aunt's two-year-old son, sick with typhoid.
The horror began when Zionist soldiers deceived us into leaving our homes, then would not let us go back, driving us through a small gate just outside Lydda. I remember the scene well: thousands of frightened people being herded like cattle through the narrow opening by armed soldiers firing overhead. In front of me a cart wobbled toward the gate.
Alongside, a lady struggled, carrying her baby, pressed by the crowd. Suddenly, in the jostling of the throngs, the child fell. The mother shrieked in agony as the cart's metal-rimmed wheel ran over her baby's neck. That infant's death was the most awful sight I had ever seen.
Outside the gate the soldiers stopped us and ordered everyone to throw all valuables onto a blanket. One young man and his wife of six weeks, friends of our family, stood near me. He refused to give up his money. Almost casually, the soldier pulled up his rifle and shot the man. He fell, bleeding and dying while his bride screamed and cried.
I felt nauseated and sick, my whole body numbed by shock waves. That night I cried, too, as I tried to sleep alongside thousands on the ground. Would I ever see my home again? Would the soldiers kill my loved ones, too?
Early the next morning we heard more shots and sprang up. A bullet just missed me and killed a donkey nearby. Everybody started running as a stampede. I was terror-stricken when I lost sight of my family, and I frantically searched all day as the crowd moved along.
That second night, after the soldiers let us stop, I wandered among the masses of people, desperately searching and calling. Suddenly in the darkness I heard my father's voice. I shouted out to him. What joy was in me! I had thought I would never see him again. As he and my mother held me close, I knew I could face whatever was necessary. The next day brought more dreadful experiences.
Still branded on my memory is a small child beside the road, sucking the breast of its dead mother. Along the way I saw many stagger and fall. Others lay dead or dying in the scorching midsummer heat. Scores of pregnant women miscarried, and their babies died along the wayside.
The wife of my father's cousin became very thirsty. After a long while she said she could not continue. Soon she slumped down and was dead. Since we could not carry her we wrapped her in cloth, and after praying, just left her beside a tree. I don't know what happened to her body.
We eventually found a well, but had no way to get water. Some of the men tied a rope around my father's cousin and lowered him down, then pulled him out, and gave us water squeezed from his clothing. The few drops helped, but thirst still tormented me as I marched along in the shadeless, one-hundred plus degree heat.
We trudged nearly twenty miles up rocky hills, then down into deep valleys, then up again, gradually higher and higher. Finally we found a main road, where some Arabs met us. They took some of us in trucks to Ramallah, ten miles north of Jerusalem. I lived in a refugee tent camp for the next three and one-half years. We later learned that two Jewish families had taken over our family home in Lydda.
Those wretched days and nights in mid-July of 1948 continue as a lifelong nightmare because Zionists took away our home of many centuries. For me and a million other Palestinian Arabs, tragedy had marred our lives forever. Throughout his life my father remembered and suffered. For thirty-one years before his death in 1979, he kept the large metal key to our house in Lydda.
After more than four decades I still bear the emotional scars of the Zionist invasion....."
Yeah, clearly it would have been a rhetorical feat for Obama to have mentioned any of this in his "great pleasure" proclamation of the Israelis' "hard-won" achievement.
And the beat goes on.
Remember al-Nakba. Remember hope. Keep it alive, Palestinian brothers and sisters.