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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!)
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