israel/palestine a different view

  1. 11,223 Posts.
    As I have always said there are 2 sides to this conflict with hate filled scum on both sides who will never accept peace.

    PALESTINE: Oppression in the name of `security'

    On August 12, a 40-day ceasefire was shattered by two Palestinian suicide bombings in Rosh Ha'ayin in northern Israel and the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. Two Israelis were killed and 13 wounded in the attacks. The Hamas organisation and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, to which the bombers belonged, claimed that the attacks were in retaliation for an Israeli attack on the Askar refugee camp, in which two Palestinians were killed.

    Israel's immediate response was to cancel any further releases of Palestinian prisoners and to demolish the family home of one of the bombers, as well as the homes of those families who had the misfortune of living in the same building. In the longer term, if previous practice is anything to go by, the family home of the other bomber will be demolished and Israel will insist that it can make no further concessions until the Palestinian Authority (PA) eliminates all forms of militant resistance to the occupation.

    In this they can be confident of the support of the US government, which sees the “Road Map to Peace” in essentially the same terms as President Bill Clinton's administration saw the Oslo Peace Accords: a process whereby the PA cooperates with Israel in disarming Palestinian militants, while the issue of Israel's withdrawal from the Occupied Territories is left for future negotiations.

    Unfortunately, this approach has two serious flaws. The first is that the Palestinian police force has been crippled by three years of relentless Israeli attacks and can hardly be expected to take on and destroy the militant Palestinian resistance groups — something that the Israeli army, the fourth most powerful in the world, has failed to accomplish. The second is that, after having witnessed the number of Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories double during the Oslo peace process, the Palestinian people are in no mood to support such a crackdown without a clear indication of Israeli good faith.

    Israel claims that it has been acting in good faith by dismantling settlement outposts and releasing Palestinian prisoners, but the facts behind the public relations reveal a different story.

    Since the commencement of the ceasefire (which applies only to Palestinians) on June 29, Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed 17 people (including seven children), wounded 437 (including 88 children), arrested 593 people, confiscated 4457 acres of land for Jewish settlements, bulldozed 987 acres of farmland, destroyed 12,462 trees, and destroyed or damaged 253 houses.

    Israel claims that such actions are carried out for “security reasons”, implying that they are necessary to defend Israelis from Palestinian attacks, but the term “security” has become so broadly defined that the claim is difficult to sustain.

    From January to April, I worked as the media coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) — an international peace group working for Palestinian human rights. On July 30, I returned to Israel to resume work. Because the Israeli army has destroyed Palestine's only airport in the Gaza Strip and because it controls all the borders into occupied Palestine, I had no choice but to enter Palestine through Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

    Upon arriving at the airport, I was immediately incarcerated in an immigration detention centre, pending my expulsion from the country. During my court hearing, the court was cleared so that the prosecution team, which included Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's legal adviser and three secret police officers, could present their “secret evidence” as to why I should be expelled from Israel.

    What had I done to deserve such treatment? While working as media coordinator for the ISM, I had provided eyewitness reports of the murders of a US and a British peace activist in the Gaza Strip and the attempted murder of another US activist in Jenin. In all these reports, the witnesses had insisted that Israeli soldiers had acted with a clear intent to kill, contradicting Israeli army claims to the contrary. I also reported many other atrocities against non-combatants, which the Israeli government clearly would have preferred to have gone unreported.

    Although nothing I did broke any Israeli law, the expulsion order was upheld for “security reasons” and I was deported from the country six days after my arrival.

    Citing “security reasons”, Israel is constructing a “security fence” through the West Bank, at the cost of US$1 million per kilometre. This concrete wall, which Israel claims is necessary to prevent Palestinian “terrorists” infiltrating Israel, is being built well within the West Bank and has already deprived an estimated 95,000 Palestinians of their farmlands, which will presumably be appropriated by Israeli settlers.

    Optimists point out that US President George Bush has expressed concern about the wall and might even cut aid to Israel if its construction continues to encroach upon Palestinian land. Other commentators are more sceptical. Earlier this year, the White House approved a $1 billion military aid package and $9 billion in loan guarantees to Israel (in addition to the $3 billion in aid it provides annually).

    In November, Bush will begin campaigning for the 2004 election and will be counting upon the support of the Moral Majority, a key Republican constituency, to get re-elected. Its leaders, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, believe that the settlement of the Occupied Territories by Jews and the expulsion of Palestinians from “Greater Israel” are necessary preconditions for the second coming of Christ and are calling on Bush to unconditionally support Israel.

    So is there any hope for the Road Map?

    From its conception, many analysts dismissed the Road Map to Peace as a public relations exercise to restore the credibility of Washington's Middle East policies, following its invasion of Iraq. Should it fail, it might be worthwhile for its architects to assess the reasons. Like all US-sponsored peace initiatives to end the conflict, the Road Map is underpinned by the assumption that security for Israelis and ending the occupation can be dealt with as separate issues.

    Perhaps it is time to reconsider this assumption?

    [Michael Shaik is former media coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement. He lives in Canberra. Visit the ISM web site at .]

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