Saturday, April 14, 2018

Why did the United States, Britain and France make missile attacks on Syria?


-- Nasir Khan, April 14, 2018

The combined missile strikes by the USA, the UK and France on Syria last night was a highly dangerous and risky military action. Such an action has all the potential to ignite the flames of global war where the nuclear powers may even resort to their nuclear arsenals thus pushing the world in the inferno of death and destruction. 

It is difficult for me to see what military objectives the three powers had in launching this attack. The whole thing seems so haphazard and foggy. If the aim was to limit the power of the Assad regime, then such an attack will have hardly any effect on him and his regime. In fact, this attack will strengthen the grip of this dynastic ruler of Syria. 

Did the Assad regime use the chemical weapons on the innocent civilians? We have no conclusive evidence that such a barbaric crime was committed by this regime. The missile attack by the three countries was based on assumptions, nothing more. There may have been other parties involved in this. That possibility cannot be ruled out.

But if the real aim of the missile strike was to follow the diktat of Netanyahu, who has been trying hard over the years to involve the United States in war against Iran, then the leaders of the three countries have taken a step towards that direction, dangerous and ghastly. It also gives Israel an opportunity to neutralize the ongoing struggle of the Palestinians of Gaza to return to their homes. Their homes were in the country called Palestine from which they were driven out by the rulers of Israel.

There are many questions that need a careful analysis and responsible clarifications.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Ah, Paradise! But whose?


-- Nasir Khan

In some parts of the world, there is much talk of "Paradise" by misleading and crude clerics where the '"true believers", only men, will have non-stop sexual orgies with most enchanting heavenly damsels!

What is amazing many people are ready to do anything to get there and get their big prizes! 


But this is what a Christian believer in God said over three centuries ago about such lecherous ideas of paradise and its seekers: 


“A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell.”

― English historian and churchman Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)

The Relationship of Body and Soul

--Nasir Khan

The question of the body and the soul relationship has a long history in the evolution of human thought in such matters. In most religious traditions and old speculative thought, the intricate relationship between the two is resolved by holding the body mortal while the soul being eternal and indestructible. As a result, the death of a person is seen only as the death of a body, but not of the soul that had temporarily lived in that body as long that body was alive.

In many religious and cultural traditions the soul is said to travel to, or is transported to, an eternal abode hereafter, while some believe that the soul of the dead returns in another living being, ranging from a human form to some animal form. Here the central idea continues to be the immortality of the soul.

Praying for the souls of the dead is common in many cultures and civilizations. Many believe this helps the souls of the deceased people to have peace and some better conditions around in the unknown world.

In the following article, Dr Stephen Cave, a philosopher, offers his views that run counter to the mainstream ideas on the question of the soul.
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

The need to separate State and Religion in modern times:


“If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody's personal concern!”

― Indian politician and outstanding leader of the Indian independence movement from the British colonial rule Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
-------------
Gandhi was a devout religious man. But he knew that democracy and theocracy in the modern world were incompatible; therefore it was necessary to separate religion from the State, and avoid the obvious dangers of tyranny under the guise of religion. If we look around where religions are allowed to be part of the State, there is only political tyranny, lack of democracy, violations of human rights, unjust laws, victimization of religious minorities and social oppression.
 

--- Nasir Khan

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Misuse and Exploitation of Institutionalized Religion


---Nasir Khan

There are many people who are sincere in their view of the positive role of religion. However, in my view, religion is also a more complex and multi-faceted phenomenon. Along with its positive sides are many other aspects that are nefarious that have been instrumental in downgrading human beings. These negative sides become apparent with the institutionalizing of religion that has been the norm in human history. This way, the religion becomes a power factor in society and those holding power use it to further their ends that basically have little to do with the positive aspects of religion.

In the hands of the ruling strata of society religions have been a big asset. With the help of the clergy the rulers have imposed their will on the people as they chose. This has been the general norm in most of the civilizations of the world. If we see the role of religion in the present-day, Muslim world then we are face to face with the stark reality of the misuse of a major religion, Islam. 

The destructive forces which claim to represent 'pure' Islam have been playing havoc with the people in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here religion instead of a playing an enlightening and sober part has been turned into a destructive tool of ignorance, violence and anti-civilization. As a result, the ordinary people suffer. Unluckily, the vicious circle of indoctrinated ignorance and violence will continue.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Terrorist attack in France


-- Nasir Khan, March 24, 2018

An attack on a supermarket in France yesterday in which three innocent people were killed and 16 injured was carried out by a Muslim, who was a petty criminal but became radicalized by ISIS. The ISIS declared that the attacker was a “soldier of the Islamic Sate”. Thus, once again one Muslim commits an act of terrorism in the name of a terrorist ideology that uses the name of Islam and brings dishonor and disgrace to the Islamic religion and its followers. 

Once again, Muslim communities and new immigrants living in the western countries become suspect in the eyes of many people.

What we need to keep in mind and tell others that such individual acts of terrorism and the killing of people have nothing to do with Islam or with the vast majority of Muslims living in Europe or in other western countries.

Muslim people are as much victims of such crimes as others. What ISIS did in Iraq and Syria, and now is targeting people in many other countries, such as Libya, Afghanistan, etc. etc., and other countries is directed against the ordinary Muslim people. The victims are both Muslims and non-Muslims.

On behalf of many like-minded people and friends, I strongly condemn the brutal murders and the harm to the innocent people at the hands of a misguided and pathetic individual, and the people using people like him to commit such dastardly crimes.

Along with many other politically active people, I have also opposed and wrote against the roles of imperialist powers, their policies, their wars and war crimes, and their criminal support for dictators, oligarchs and terrorists for many years. However, we should never use the policies of these governments to justify any individual acts of terror as in the present case in France.

Terrorism in the name of any religion or religious ideology (Islamism, Hindutva militarism, Christian fundamentalism, Zionism, anti-Muslim Buddhist mafia) is vicious and should be fought against by all democratic forces, and we should never compromise on this because some brainwashed maniacs and social oppressors are using the names of religions or religious symbols to advance their objectives.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The bigottry of theologians and preachers

Nasir Khan, March 22, 2018

“The bigotry of theologians [is] a malady which seems almost incurable.”

― Scottish philosopher, historian, economist and essayist David Hume (1711-1776)
--------
We may also ask the questions following David Hume's lead on the matter of theologians' incurable disease of bigotry: Why do many theologians and preachers behave in this way? What lies at the roots of this disease that makes these people to think in such inhuman terms to the detriment of other people and the follow
ers of seemingly different beliefs?

There must be some potential causes, and unless we deal with those causes that create the disease of bigotry and hatred against other human beings with different religious or social orientations, the morbid affliction of bigotry and hatred will not disappear.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Idea of One Democratic, Secular State in Classic Palestine


Nasir Khan, March 20, 2018

In the whole of classic Palestine, one democratic, secular and progressive state is a possible solution to end the long-standing imbroglio and non-ending oppression against a captive population by Israel, otherwise extremist nationalists and theocratic vandals will continue to play havoc and cause more polarization among the Palestinians and Israelis that will bring only more bloodshed and misery for all. However, the Zionist rulers of Israel will hardly accept this solution.

In theory, a two-state solution is still possible if the rulers of Israel (and USA) accept the 1967 borders as the demarcation lines between the two states and thus start a new chapter in bilateral relations to seek reconciliation and show an honest resolve to solve the remaining issues, such as the return of the Palestinian refugees, but in practice things stand on a very different level. The West Bank has largely been colonized by the expansion of the illegal settlements in the occupied territories and the Gaza Strip has been isolated and kept under siege by the Israel. 

All the feigned clatter of 'peace talks' was meant as a ruse that allowed Israel to expand further into the occupied territories. Will Israel reverse its policies, withdraw to the 1967 borders and seek a sincere solution to a two-state solution? In my assessment that is not going to happen. 

The remaining viable and humane alternative is the creation of a single democratic, secular and progressive state in historic Palestine, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, the followers of other faiths and legitimate political ideologies could live together. That is possible, and we have some examples of such democracies functioning superbly well in the Nordic countries.

Monday, March 12, 2018

An eternal life

“The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever.”

― French author and Nobel laureate Anatole France
(1844-1924)
---------
Many people don't have to wish for another life. In many cultures, such an everlasting life is fully guaranteed, and many eager souls want to enjoy it as promised to them. Consequently, it is just a question of time when they will be transported to that grandiose realm. 


We are also told there are two places there, one very desirable, but the other one extremely nasty to be in! Once we are ushered into that realm we would soon find out which place has been allotted to us for the eternal life.


I wish all my friends and readers who believe in an alternate life a safe journey whenever it starts and the luxurious place in the next world! However, my fellow Humanists will be spared all the delights or the pains in the Hereafter if I haven't got the whole things wrong. 


-- Nasir Khan

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The exploitation of religion by using the blasphemy laws in Pakistan


Nasir Khan

People around the world have become increasingly aware of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. In fact, in a country where the 95-98% people are the followers of Islam, there was never any danger to this religion, its founder or its holy scripture. Then, why were these laws promulgated in this Islamic country? That has more to do with that limited number of people who have ruled Pakistan since 1947. That ruling elite has frequently played the ‘Islam card’ to bolster their power on the masses. In fact, it has been quite easy for them to do so because the people were rather too eager to accept anything presented to them as being in the service of Islam and God!

Because of the state policies, a vast network of religious preachers and clerics have mushroomed throughout the country. These people comprise the religious establishment that has a real grip on the people. Its influence has also grown enormously in the overseas communities of Pakistanis and their descendants.

Anyone opposing the clerics is in danger of being stigmatized as ‘infidel’ and then made a target. The blasphemy laws have become a fertile ground for many to take revenge for personal disputes against another person by accusing him/her of having insulted Islam, God or the Qur’an! To make such false accusations is so easy. Right from the start, the law is on the side of complainant. The penalties imposed on the victims are incredible – death and life imprisonment. For minor offences, the prison term is three years, fine, or both.

Just for the sake of giving an accurate information what such blasphemy laws contain, I am posting them here for the readers to see for themselves.

------------
Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Offenses relating to religion: Pakistan Penal code

295-B Defiling, etc., of copy of Holy Quran. Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.

295-C Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

298-A Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of holy personages. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

298-B Misuse of epithet, descriptions and titles, etc. Reserved for certain holy personages or places.

1. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation:

a. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), as "Ameerul Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Muslimeen", "Sahaabi" or "Razi Allah Anho";

b. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ummul-Mumineen;

c. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or

d. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or

e. refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as Masjid; shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

2. Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahore group, (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other names), who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, refers to the mode or from of call to prayers followed by his faith as "Azan" or redites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

298-C Persons of Qadiani group, etc, calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or any other name), who directly or indirectly, posses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Nasir Khan

People around the world have become increasingly aware of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. In fact, in a country where the 95-98% people are the followers of Islam, there was never any danger to this religion, its founder or its holy scripture. Then, why were these laws promulgated in this Islamic country? That has more to do with that limited number of people who have ruled Pakistan since 1947. That ruling elite has frequently played the ‘Islam card’ to bolster their power on the masses. In fact, it has been quite easy for them to do so because the people were rather too eager to accept anything presented to them as being in the service of Islam and God!

Because of the state policies, a vast network of religious preachers and clerics have mushroomed throughout the country. These people comprise the religious establishment that has a real grip on the people. Its influence has also grown enormously in the overseas communities of Pakistanis and their descendants.

Anyone opposing the clerics is in danger of being stigmatized as ‘infidel’ and then made a target. The blasphemy laws have become a fertile ground for many to take revenge for personal disputes against another person by accusing him/her of having insulted Islam, God or the Qur’an! To make such false accusations is so easy. Right from the start, the law is on the side of complainant. The penalties imposed on the victims are incredible – death and life imprisonment. For minor offences, the prison term is three years, fine, or both.

Just for the sake of giving an accurate information what such blasphemy laws contain, I am posting them here for the readers to see for themselves.

------------
Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Offenses relating to religion: Pakistan Penal code

295-B Defiling, etc., of copy of Holy Quran. Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.

295-C Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

298-A Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of holy personages. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

298-B Misuse of epithet, descriptions and titles, etc. Reserved for certain holy personages or places.

1. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation:

a. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), as "Ameerul Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Muslimeen", "Sahaabi" or "Razi Allah Anho";

b. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ummul-Mumineen;

c. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or

d. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or

e. refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as Masjid; shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

2. Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahore group, (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other names), who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, refers to the mode or from of call to prayers followed by his faith as "Azan" or redites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

298-C Persons of Qadiani group, etc, calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or any other name), who directly or indirectly, posses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Happy International Women's Day!


 -- Nasir Khan

There are millions of women in poor countries where they have to struggle hard to survive. They are subjected to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and in some cultures treated more like chattels that can be bought and sold. In many countries, misguided and ignorant people fight against their education and want to keep them in traditional social bondage. Child brides are still common in many countries.
On this day, we should renew our common struggle for the equal human rights of all women everywhere and to end the systemic oppression they are subjected to.
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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Dictatorship of the proletariat?

Nasir Khan, March 6, 2018

(A short note on a complicated theoretical theme.)

A veteran Pakistani Communist and political activist Jam Saqi died on March 5, 2018, aged 73. At a later stage in his life, he rejected the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as irrelevant to our present times. That was something with which I concur with him.

There have been enormous political developments and changes in the system of government and the extension of people's representation in many western countries since the nineteenth century, when Marx and Engels formulated the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat to replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The way democracies function at this time in the Nordic countries is the best example of that sociopolitical change.

However, in many Afro-Asian countries the ruling power is still mostly in the hands of feudal lords, old aristocratic families, religious politicians and comprador and raw capitalists. In these countries the form of government may be seemingly democratic, but the power stays in the hands of a minority of the powerful people and exploiting groups that I have briefly referred to.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Freedom to choose, believe in or leave a religion

Nasir Khan, January 30, 2018

In the following article, I had some specific oppressive and coercive states in sight where laws of the countries and religious authorities stand in the way of freedom of conscience and thought.

One fact we need to keep in mind is that no large sections of the populations of a nation willingly leave their religion and their customary ways.

 http://mwcnews.net/focus/politics/70227-freedom-to-choose.html

dove
by Nasir Khan

Freedom to believe in any religion can also extend to freedom to change one’s religion. For example, when Christianity arose as a major religion, millions of followers of Egyptian, Roman and other Middle Eastern religions accepted Christianity, which had already split and developed into divergent sects.

Likewise, when Islam arose in the seventh-century Arabia and Islamic political power replaced the Byzantine and Persian empires of their possessions in Egypt, Syria and other countries, it gained millions of new followers. The Arabs vanquished the great Persian empire by force of arms and its ancient religion Zoroastrianism was replaced by Islam.

One fact we need to keep in mind is that no large sections of the populations of a nation willingly leave their religion and their customary ways. It was also the case during the early Arab conquests and the expansion of the Islamic empire.

Now, imagine a situation where Islamic victories led only to an expansion only in the political power and domination, but Islamic rulers found no converts to the new faith. That would mean Egypt, Syria and Palestine at this time would still be predominately Christian; Iran would be mostly Zoroastrian. But we know things changed drastically.

Millions of vanquished people converted to Islam. However, it would also be a mistake to assert that all such conversions to Islam took place because of imperial force and coercion. In fact, many conquered people and nations were also deeply influenced by the egalitarian spirit of the new faith. That made their transition to Islam easy. Therein lies a cardinal factor that explains large scale conversions to Islam in its early history.

The same thing happened in the Indian subcontinent. The conversions happened due to the missionary activities of Muslim saints, preachers and traders whose behavior and practical modes of living had an immense effect upon the people. If the Hindu rulers and communities had followed the example of the fanatics of present-day Muslim countries and punished anyone leaving the ancestral Hindu faith by beheading and torturing people, then there wouldn’t have been any Muslims in the part of the world I come from – India, Pakistan and Kashmir!

But why should any state or any society reject individuals’ freedom to follow any religion or stop them from converting to some religion as a matter of choice and convictions strikes at the roots of the notion of freedom to believe and follow one’s conscience.

The Qur’anic teaching on this matter is quite clear when it says: “There is no compulsion in religion (Arabic: La iqra fidd-deen). But what the present-day Muslim rulers, oligarchs and clerics say and do surprises the non-Muslim world.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Some religious people do good work, some don't


Nasir Khan, January 13, 2018

My Swedish friend, Lars Djerf, who is a Christian believer and a firm supporter of the cause of the Palestinian people wrote a short comment in reply to my post 'Feuerbach on Christianity'.

I reproduce his comment here, followed by my reply:

Lars Djerf wrote: 

As you know Nasir I don't agree with Feuerbach because there are a lot of examples that there are persons who thanks to their Christian belief could get a purpose to fight the evil here on earth
---

Nasir Khan's reply: 

Lars Djerf, Yes, I know. Some Christians and some (not all) followers of other religions also try their best to fight the injustices in the world. They make an enormous contribution to the cause of peace, helping the victims of wars, poverty and destitution. I always respect such people, and see them as noble friends.

But there are also religious people who kill others, spread hatred against the followers of other religions, victimize religious and ethnic minorities in their countries, support their governments if they invade other countries to kill and plunder the weaker nations and people.

We should also keep in mind what the former US president, George W. Bush, a devout Christian, and the former British prime minster, Tony Blair, another Christian, did, by invading Iraq and their allied forces killed hundreds of thousands Iraqis and destroyed an Arab country. They are Christian leaders and now they are living in peace and comfort.

We had seen that during this barbarian bloodbath and the destruction of Iraq many fundamentalist Christians and Christian Zionists fully supported the war of aggression. These are some simple facts.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Ahed Tamimi: Who Am I?



Who am I?

I am a Palestinian girl.
Before I was born, the occupation took most of my village’s lands to build a new settlement called Halamish.
Then they arrested my father. When my aunt went to visit him, one of the soldiers pushed her over the stairs of the court and she died.
Since I was little the settlers of Halamish keep stealing more and more of our lands to expand the settlement.
Our home has demolition order because it is in Area C. The settlers are allowed to build on our land, but not us.
In 2005, the settlers made the spring of our village part of the settlement and prevent us from using it, even though many of us are farmers.
All these things happened with great support from the Occupation army and government.

When the people of the my village started to resist the injustices with protest marches, my father was arrested again.
My mother was arrested too. My uncles, aunts, brothers, cousins - all of them were arrested too.
My cousin Mustafa was killed by the Israeli army. My uncle Rushdi was killed by the army too!
Later, an Israeli sniper shot my mom in the leg and she couldn’t move for long time.
Almost every week, the army breaks into our homes to arrest one of my family or to confiscate our laptops or phones.
During our marches, they shoot us with tear gas rubber bullets - my cousin is in hospital badly injured because he was shot in the face the week before.
A few days ago, two soldiers came to our house to take positions to shoot at the demonstrators from my village. I stood with my family to prevent them, the soldier pushed me and I slapped him.
And now I am in jail!
My mother and my cousin are in jail too!
The occupation government and media call me a terrorist.
Do you know who I am?
And what would you do if that was your life? Or the life of your child?
#ahed_tamimi #youth_activist
#100%Palestine