Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas authorized the Palestinian foreign ministry to send a 30-member rapid response team to Malatya in southern Turkey. They were split into two teams and are paired with Turkish colleagues combing collapsed buildings for survivors. About half of the delegation were members of Palestinian Civil Defense, 10 were from the Palestinian Red Crescent, and one is a physician.
Another 42 aid workers were sent to help in Syria.
Because they are occupied by Israel, which has damaged their economy to the tune of billions of dollars in this century, the Palestinians are not a wealthy people. But they are enthusiastic about helping other victims of disaster, since they can empathize, many of them having been made refugees by the political earthquakes of Israeli triumphs in 1948 and 1967.
Moreover, since the aggressive Israeli conquests created a vast Palestinian diaspora, nearly two dozen Palestinians were killed in the earthquake in Turkey, and another 51 in Syria, so this event is not far from them.
Palestinians have been mourning the dead in the two countries since last Monday. Even in the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinian civilians are besieged by the Israeli military, the Palestinian Red Cross did a blood donation drive for victims of the natural disaster in Turkey and Syria. Many people in Gaza are kept desperately poor by the Israeli blockade, so that giving their blood is a real sacrifice.
Palestinians have raised a million dollars for earthquake relief.
Palestinian artist Abrar Sabbah, writes Mucahit Aydemir at the Anadolu Agency, went viral on social media when she responded to the mean-spirited cartoon in France’s Charli Hebdo, which depicted Turkey devastated and carried the caption “We didn’t even have to send in the tanks.”
Sabbah, who had studied graphic design in Turkey, made a video of herself altering the cartoon so that it depicted a resurgent Turkey that would rise again.
Palestinian youth have a lot of experience with Western and Israeli hate speech directed at them, and often have a healthy sense of humor about the surreal experience of being excoriated for being refugees from their own homes.
Sabbah is quoted as saying, “I saw the cartoon made by Charlie Hebdo in these difficult times we live in. Of course, like millions of people, I was angry and could not remain silent. In my opinion, this cannot be a cartoon. Caricature is a satirical work. But people who suffer should not be mocked.”
“Many people’s rights are violated. At the same time, I wanted to send the message that Türkiye is a very strong country, and the Turkish people are very strong people who do not give up. I hope this message reached well. Our most powerful weapon is the pen. By writing or drawing, this way we can send a more lasting message. I wanted the message in response to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon to be in a language they understand.”
“I got lots of positive feedback. I have received many support messages on my personal account. For example, ‘We couldn’t make our voices heard, you told us what we couldn’t say’ or ‘You gave us morale when we were in great pain and depressed.'”