Palestine still the issue
Palestine is still the issue
by Mazin Qumsiyeh *
Published by Vermont Guardian 8/19/05
US Secretary of State Condi Rice visited refugee camps in Sudan and spoke of sanctions and government complicity in creating such a human tragedy. She then flew to Israel/Palestine and Lebanon but failed to visit a single Palestinian refugee camp. Instead, she praised Ariel Sharon for his “courage” in planning “disengagement” from the Gaza strip; a tiny desert enclave with 1.3 million Palestinians, most of them refugees denied their internationally recognized right of return. This was another example of a US foreign policy that has gone haywire.
No one was allowed to ask Rice about the statement by Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s right hand man that “the significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process . . . Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda . . . .All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress" (October 2004). And no one seems to recall that Ariel Sharon stated clearly in 1988: “You don’t simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away…I prefer to advocate a positive policy, to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave.” 150 countries and the International Court of Justice agreed that that is precisely what is the intention of the walls and fences being built on Palestinian lands and surrounding the few remaining Palestinian areas. The daily killings, land confiscations, economic strangulations, and misery of the natives in the illegally occupied Palestinian areas was not on Ms. Rice’s agenda.
As usual the US media has ignored the Palestinian tragedy and focused on only a small segment of the symptoms and instability associated with it (albeit without drawing any linkages). Thus, there are the usual attacks on anyone who, like the mayor of London, suggests that in addition to combating terrorists, we should revaluate the policy of Anglo-American support for colonial oppression and occupation.
State-sponsored terrorism is rarely reported in US media but it is an organic and natural part of colonization and settlement of native lands. The Israeli colonization program over five decades left 5 million Palestinians as refugees or displaced people and cornered those remaining into bantustans/ghettos being surrounded by high walls and watchtowers. There are individual acts of Palestinian terrorism, but one cannot ignore the fact that over 530 Palestinian towns and villages were erased completely. Residents were driven out by careful use of
massacres (33 between 1947-1949 and dozens more since then), intimidation, deprivation, land confiscation and outright expulsions.
The discrepancy in reporting on individual terrorism and ignoring the more deadly state terrorism is particularly troublesome because the American taxpayers fund the ongoing atrocities while signing away their civil liberties in the hysteria of government sponsored fear campaigns. If terrorists are attacking us for our freedoms, is this why we are curtailing our freedoms with such acts as the PATRIOT act? Is Switzerland a target for terrorists? According to human rights organizations, four times more Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces than Israelis killed by Palestinians. These same human rights organizations (like Amnesty International, B'tselem and Human Rights Watch) clearly showed that Israeli forces do target civilians. Some 40,000 Iraqi civilians were killed by US forces and there is no sign of an exit strategy as we create more enemies bent on revenge for these killings.
It is not hard to understand why most Europeans have identified that the route for peace goes through Palestine. We can start by rejecting the request made by Israel for billions more in US taxpayer largesse and tying all aid to Israel to implementation of International law (including dismantling the apartheid wall and allowing the return of refugees).
* Dr. Qumsiyeh is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli/Palestinian struggle” (Pluto) and is president of the Association for One Democratic State in Israel/Palestine
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