Archive for June 2007
Here is my response to recent events in occupied Palestine. It’s quite long .. but not nearly as long as the Palestinian tragedy.
Fatah was established as a revolutionary liberation movement, the party of the Palestinian masses wherever they were, the movement which energised the Palestine Liberation Organisation and took it out of the hands of the Arab regimes. Arafat, Abu Jihad and other leaders resisted and negotiated, and withstood even the 1982 seige of Beirut, until the rulers of the world were obliged to recognise the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO included various small Marxist factions, but its centre was Fatah. The word means ‘opening’ or ‘victory’, and is a back-to-front acronym of harakeh at-tahrir al-watani al-filastini, or the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.
The first I heard of it was the Monday evening when a friend called to say that his son’s birthday party had been postponed due to the hurricane warning. Hurricane warning? Five minutes later my brother-in-law called about it too. You’ll forgive me for not taking it too seriously. For a start, we’re not in a hurricane zone. There has never before been a cyclone (as Indian Ocean hurricanes are called) in the Arabian Sea. There have been a few tropical storms, but they fail to make headway into the dry and dusty Gulf. Secondly, Oman had cried wolf a month previously when an Indian holy man predicted a storm and a tidal wave which would destroy the Qurm area. He said disaster would strike on a Wednesday, and a hysteria – which made the expatriate population chuckle – rapidly spread, so that children were kept home from school and more than a few workers failed to go to work. Nothing happened, of course. Except that the Indian holy man was imprisoned for starting the panic.
But there it was on the Omani TV station. Warnings to stock up on drinking water and then to stay indoors. Anyone within two kilometres of the sea should find a safe place further inland. On Tuesday morning I saw satellite images of Cyclone Gonu on the internet. It was huge, a swirl spreading its arms between the Iranian and Omani coastlines, with a defined eye. It had been upgraded to a category five cyclone. That’s as strong as a cyclone can get. Hurricane Katrina was a category five. A category five makes trees, rocks and cars dance in the heavens. A category five knocks down buildings. I bought a lot of candles and water, and taped up the windows. When I’d taped the windows, I shielded them with wardrobes and upended beds.