By Nir Boms
“It’s human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it’s an imperative.”- Michael Collins, Gemini and Apollo astronaut.
“Space, the Final Frontier,” said Captain Kirk as he began the voyage of the starship “Enterprise,” a fitting name for an imaginary tale of man’s journey into space. The Enterprise traveled toward new worlds and distant places, carrying crewman from planet Earth. Earthlings had learned to transcend the wars of the past in order to tackle the challenges of the future.
The voyages of the Enterprise were fictional, but advances in modern technology constantly bring that fiction closer to reality. On the morning of February first, 2003, it appeared that Israelis would have the opportunity to finally share with Captain Kirk the sense of accomplishment of having reached for the stars, and touched them. School children from Calcutta to Houston and Moscow to Jerusalem stared up at the sky, realizing for a moment that the world is not as large as it seems and the people on it are more similar than they are different.
Astonishingly, there were people who did not lower their heads in grief upon hearing of the journey’s tragic end. Not everyone chose to shed a tear or stop for a moment to acknowledge the lives lost. Despite the view from the stars, the Earth is not always a beautiful place.
“I would have liked to have felt sorry for the space shuttle that was destroyed ” said Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader in Lebanon, “but my joy was great because one of those killed was an Israeli astronaut who had previously been part of the Jewish criminal army, and fought against Lebanon and Iraq.”
“An atmosphere of sadness and shock overcame the Israelis two days ago when NASA announced the loss of the American Shuttle,” wrote Hamed Salamin, a columnist for the UAE daily Al-Bayan, in an article entitled “Ramon Can Go to Hell.” “And this is enough to arouse joy in every heart in which Arabism and Islam beat.”
To further stress this point, Nur Al-Din Sati’, a columnist for the Lebanese pro-Syrian daily Al-Sapir explains the nature of the Israeli contribution to the American Space program: “Although the disaster will not change imperialist American behavior across the world, the loss caused by the crash of the Columbia is not restricted to America, which will continue to be a center of attraction for the minds and geniuses of the entire world, six of whom were lost two days ago; as for the seventh, his expertise was in destroying homes and pinpoint strikes at civilian targets, so he should not be classified as a genius.”
And of course, we cannot neglect the Palestinian angle. Al-Whaten reminds us that “There is an interoperation that is based onthe following: 1. The shuttle carried the first Israeli Astronaut. 2. It fell in an area by the name of Palestine in Texas, where the civil war took place and the revolt against Lincoln’s call to release the slaves and the Ku-Klux Klan gangs and; 3. This is also the birth place of President George W. Bush who is planning to set a new fire in the Middle East. Those who support this interoperation believe that this event may be a prophecy for the coming fall of America in the Middle East. The attempt to weaken the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation and to terrorize a population by killings, arresting and blowing up houses are similar to the ride of a wandering Jew on an American shuttle that explodes for no reason and than burned in the atmosphere.”
Even in the United States, these voices were echoed. “Undoubtedly, the heart of every believer leaped with joy at the disaster of his greatest enemy,” noted the American Sheikh Dr. Ali Al-Tamimi. Eric Efran Vickers, executive director of the American Muslim Council, the largest Muslim organization in the U.S., added a messianic slant: “The book of revelations tells of things to come and signs to watch for. I was tempted to ask if [there is] a sign in the calamitous destruction of the one hundred and thirteenth space shuttle mission taking place over a city named Palestine, while on board was the first Israeli astronaut, who also happened to have been the pilot that bombed several years ago an Iraqi nuclear facility. I was curious how the book of revelation might view or explain this strangely ironic set of facts as war looms in the horizon.”
Perhaps space travel can provide a new needed perspective about life on Earth. Perhaps, when we look down at our planet from the stars, we can see its potential for beauty and harmony, and we can realize the futility of hatred. Perhaps. But in the mean time, down below, there are more than a few people that refuse to learn this lesson–and are not even willing to share in this one short moment of sadness .Perhaps. But in the mean time, down below, there are more than a few people that refuse to learn this lesson–and are not even willing to share in this one short moment of sadness
Nir Boms is the Vice President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, based in Washington, D.C. The Arabic press sources were retrieved by the Middle East Media research Institute.
Published: Pakistan Today