by Tabitha Korol
This is another in a series of children’s propagandist story books distributed to libraries nationwide and in other countries, another facet of the many war strategies used against the west, overtly about Israel, but covertly about changing opinions and accepting Islam. The facade of victimhood is usually at play; one need only be alert to recognize how it’s employed.
Tasting the Sky, by Ibtisam Barakat, is a story told through the memories of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl in Ramallah, West Bank, the heartland of Biblical Israel and known through the centuries as Samaria. it is categorized to be read by Middle Graders, ages 6 and up, who know nothing of the region’s history. Without guidance, analysis and clarification, they would conclude that Israel is the interloper and Palestinians the natives, and by extension, western civilization is evil. This is Islamic indoctrination, inappropriate for distribution.
It begins with a sketchy historical note that the conflict over the State of Israel, the background of the story, continues to this day, but the conflict’s origin is ignored. For over fourteen centuries, Arabs have been following Mohammed’s decrees by attacking and slaughtering the Jews within the land and brutalizing Christians, Romans, Persians, Ethiopians, Berbers, Turks, Visigoths, Franks, Egyptians, Indians, and more, elsewhere. Unable to deny 1400 years of Jewish presence in the land, the Arabs embellish the discord with lies of shared history, prophets, and archaeology. But the land has only ever been the ancestral homeland of the Jews, who reestablished their national independence in Israel after 2,000 years, its legality endorsed by the United Nations, in 1948. Israel also received the recognition of Yusaf Diya al-Khaldi Mayor of Jerusalem (1899), Lord Robert Cecil (1918), Emir Faisal, leader of the Arab World (1919); and Sir Winston Churchill (1920).
To devalue Israel’s legitimacy, the author alleges that the State of Israel was founded solely because of the Holocaust, but that is not the case. “Zion” is the age-old name for Jerusalem; “Zionism” is love of Zion, and the national liberation movement begun in the late 1800s with the creation of 20 new Jewish cities in what was then called Palestine (a Roman appellation). It is also the political movement of restoration and return founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897, decades before the Holocaust. After World War I, when Iraq, Lebanon and Syria were created from the defeated Ottoman Empire, so were Palestine’s boundaries created and recognized as the Jewish homeland. This is what Mohammed’s successors repudiate. Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, established 1000 BCE, has held a majority Jewish population since the late 1860s.
Barakat’s personal story begins at age 19, returning home from Birzeit, West Bank, where activist students ignore the barbaric crimes of Islamist groups – lynching, beheading, whipping, crucifixion, castration, rape-to-death, burning alive and other unspeakable tortures – but fight with Israeli soldiers, protesting the “occupation.” “Occupier” is legal terminology that does not apply to Israel, as Israel’s legal title and rights were established in the San Remo resolution, adopted by the Allied Powers after World War I, confirmed by the League of Nations, and incorporated into the UN charter. Calling Israel an occupier is equal to calling the Arabs occupiers of Arabia. This is “projection,” attributing one’s own qualities or ideas to another. After losing their aggressive war in 1967, they self-identified as Palestinians and occupy this land as their strategy.
In the book, Ibtisam is returning to Ramallah, once a Christian city, now renamed “Hill of Allah” by Arab forces that took the town in the first Arab-Israeli war, 1948-49. When her bus is stopped at an Israeli checkpoint, she expresses fear for passengers’ showing their ID and tickets, although identification is commonplace at border crossings between jurisdictions. Because Palestinians have proven an aggressive people, Israelis also check for weapons or passengers swathed in explosives, their parents’ sacrifices to Allah for monetary reward. The naïve readers are influenced to fear.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operate on strict commands that, as representatives of Israel, they must behave with humanity. Passengers are not raped, tortured, or beheaded. Rather, once cleared, they are free to proceed. In fact, Palestinians have begun producing fictitious film enactments to blame Israelis for mistreatment because they cannot confirm their claims, Israelis being known for their morality. The author even writes that one soldier attempts to return her fare because they will be rerouted to the Military Rule Center, a detention center.
As her story unfolds, she is three years old when an Israeli soldier comes to their house and allegedly makes sexual gestures to her mother. Mother tells Father that she fears rape if he returns, but I question why he didn’t rape her right then. The accusation is possible but since Ibtisam’s story is fraught with fabrications, both the checkpoint accusation and this one might be projections. Muslim men have endangered the streets of Germany, France, and London, and made Sweden the Rape Capital of the West and India, the Rape Capital of the World. Mother could assume the same of Israeli soldiers.
Israelis are held accountable for their actions under Israeli law; rape is not sanctioned as in Islam. A noteworthy phenomenon: reports indicate the lack of Israel’s military rape, which “merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences – just as organized military rape would have done.” A Seattle university professor declared at a BDS event, “You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinian women because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that you won’t touch them.” In any case, Father accepts Mother’s word and they leave.
As Ibtisam’s bus is en route to the detention center, she ponders her postal box, her foreign pen pals, and recalls her father’s nightmares as he relived his loss of freedom in 1967. He’d told his children that the war came to them, not that five Arab nations initiated an offensive against the new Israel in 1948. He excluded that the Arabs ignored the UN and Israel’s decision to designate Jerusalem an international city, home to Israelis and Arabs. Instead, they forced the Jews out, destroying graveyards and at least 50 percent of the city’s synagogues. Nineteen years later, 1967, following Israel’s warning that Nasser’s closure of the Straits of Tiran against Israeli shipping and his forces mobilized at the border would be casus belli, Israel preempted Egypt’s action by destroying its air force and initiating a ground offensive. The result was Israel’s acquisition of the West Bank/Judea-Samaria, the Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula, and Gaza. Although Israel immediately offered to return land for peace, the Arab governments refused to talk or recognize Israel. Father’s story is misleading; the reader misled.
The author recalls June 5, 1967. She is three when Father returns from work without his usual treats, announcing that Israeli planes are targeting Palestinians, soldiers combing their homes and butchering everyone. Again, this is untrue, but projection. (Mohammed’s conquests included beheading the men and enslaving the women.) The Arab countries initiate, and Israeli forces repel, the onslaught, yet the Israeli government nevertheless invites the Arab residents to remain safely in their homes and become citizens. Some families stay, but many heed their own army’s orders to go to Jordan or the caves, expecting to return triumphant. Mother and children escape with the rest; father leaves to see if he can be of help.
Yes, Ibtisam remembers gun shots, air raids, but she cannot name the aggressor, and the reader assumes they run to escape the Israelis. The child knows they lost the war, her home, and her shoes. and they cannot return to Ramallah. Her mother is 24, with three children in tow, ages 8, 7, and 3, and she soon gives birth to her fourth child. Father is 44. At the time of their marriage, Mother was 15, Father 35. In a culture where there is no loving courtship, marriage is described as a series of rapes interrupted by childbirth.
When a little boy has drowned in the river, they say the water stole him. We often see signs of Islamic projection. The young reader cannot alone grasp that Muslims take no responsibility for their behaviors, attacks or plight, and lies are routine. With the announcement that they “lost Palestine” comes the stinging victimization, not the realization that their wounds were self-inflicted.
Radio announcements of refugees who may return to the new Israel include Ibtisam’s family, but many are refused entry to their countries of origin, the surrounding countries that pursued war.
And because so much of the humanitarian aid is redirected to the Palestinian Authority, for weapons and payments to families of “martyrs” who are killed while killing Israelis, the dispossessed are destined for neglect for generations to come, their victimhood worsened, their futures bleak. To this day, they blame Israel for “colonizing their land,” when there is no evidence that “Palestinians” were ever an identifiable people, with history, government, culture or language. They were Arabs from surrounding lands or nomadic Bedouins.
Facts are facts: Jews (Hebrews) are the indigenous people of what the Romans called Palaestina. Despite Israel’s overtures of peace, unilaterally returning land to Egypt and Lebanon, and signing a peace treaty with Jordan, Palestinians continue their attacks. Do the young readers see Israel’s offers of peace and opportunities to prosper? Do they know that the Palestinians refuse?
Back in Ramallah, the Israeli soldiers marching in formation down the streets, armed but carrying Israeli flags and “chanting” (singing), are a source of anxiety and entertainment. When Ibtisam hears “sounds of war,” she does not know that they are the Palestinians’ ongoing, daily attacks against Israelis – throwing rocks and missiles at Israeli vehicles, firing rockets and mortar into Israel, or youths hurling firebombs at troops who then return fire with their weapons. The Palestinians are consistent. They will continue to attack until one day, with Allah’s help, they expect success. Meanwhile, generations of people endure in stagnant misery and perceived victimhood.
When Jamel Abdel Nasser dies, Father exclaims, “Now we are all orphans.” It is likely that Father, if not mother also, has his roots in Egypt. “Barakat” is a Muslim name, and common to Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh; its definition is “blessings.” When the women of the family gather for the boys’ circumcision, dressed in “the styles of hundreds of years,” the embroidery may indicate their country’s design, or that of the nomadic Bedouin. It cannot represent a Palestinian country that never existed.
Ibtisam’s family has survived whole, parents and six children, but there are others who have endured much hardship. She does not speak of the many victims of the Palestinian leadership’s greed and complete disregard to the people’s suffering. During the same years since 1948, while Israelis create a prosperous nation, are happy, and live in comparative freedom and security, generations of Palestinians wallow in poverty, hardship, self-pity and resentment – squandered lives with the fear of another war looming over their heads. This book has hidden many truths, and a new generation of readers grows up to take on Mohammed’s legacy of war, to side with the tyranny of Islam and resent the freedoms of Israel and America. Rather than reading propaganda, American children should be learning more about the humble beginnings and magnificence of America’s ideals and, by extension, Israel’s.