2007 / 3 / 18
Prof. in Semitic languages
I was four years old when my parents, my elder brother, my sister and I were compelled to leave our home in Kufur Yasif in 1948. In the spring of that year Jewish troops were to take over our village and our family found a safe place for several weeks in the neighboring Druze village, Yirka in Western Galilee. That unpleasant trip on foot is still vivid in my memory and in particular two things: One, the huge camel that carried some of our basic belongings and my being afraid to ride it, and, second, my spontaneous question to my parents: Why should we leave our home?
The tragic cycle of violence and bloodshed continues in the West Bank and Israel. The phenomenon of suicide bombers against civilians is tragic, immoral, and insupportable. This does not mean that killing civilians by sophisticated means such as missiles is justifiable. The
Hebrew term hissul, meaning liquidation, used in such cases should arouse some negative associations among the Jewish people who suffered so much in modern history.
It is obvious that acts of suicide bombers swiftly attract attention and overshadow the core of the problem, namely the continued occupation of Palestinian land. Ariel Sharon promised during the last elections to bring security to Israel in three months, but he has failed. His ongoing war against the Palestinians may be described as: war for the security of the settlements, war for the homeland, war against terror, war against Arafat, invasion, re-occupation, bloody adventure, military operation, operation defensive shield, or military offensive.The declared aim of this war, which has mobilized 20,000 soldiersbesides tanks, helicopters, and military jets, is to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure of the Palestinian National Authority. It is
Still unclear is how killing, humiliation, arrests, siege, torture, collective punishment, vandalism and destruction of homes and offices would achieve that objective. The institutions of the PNA established in 1994 were damaged in April 2002, but they would be replaced as soon as possible probably by more efficient ones.
Yaffa Yarkoni, the national singer of Israel, has described the Independence Day as "the worst Independence Day I can remember. I have never seen things more dismal or black. I feel we are at the edge of the abyss". Such terror, called by others resistance, exists in the souls of millions of Palestinians and of Arabs alike. A Palestinian child who watched the dreadful scenes in the camp of Jenin will probably not think much before becoming the suicide bomber of tomorrow. The state of entire despair and the feeling that this young generation has nothing to lose anymore should immediately come to an end.The word terrorism is being used to blot out the justification of
resistance against occupation. A few dozen Israeli soldiers were killed while perhaps hundreds of Palestinians have died, though no one knows exactly how many. The number of arrested and wounded persons may reach thousands. At the same time, there has been no destruction in Israel in contrast to the heavy destruction in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps, especially in Jenin and Nablus. Palestinian civil life has also been destroyed. UN Secretary General Kofi Anan appointed a fact-finding team but it was dissolved before it started its investigation due to the refusal of Israel to co-operate with it. This means that a detailed, trust-worthy and balanced report will not be forthcoming, and the UN, the USA andthe world community have been rebuffed. It is not a secret that Israel has rejected almost every UN resolution since 1948.The American secretary of state Mr. Collin Powell in his ten day visit to the Middle East did not find it necessary to pay a short visit to the camp of Jenin or to the besieged Church of the Nativity. Yet, he rushed to the market of Mahanei Yehuda in West Jerusalem in the wake of a suicide bomb attack. Many voices will be wondering: What happened to the world s moral compass? Will the double-standard policy succeed in the long run? The West has devoted little attention or discussion to the 35 year Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory, which has been the longest in recent times. After eight years of sterile peace discussions between Israel and the PNA, more than seventy five percent of the Palestinians are unemployed and seventy percent live in poverty on less than two dollars a day. Since the second Intifada, September 2000, Israel has sequestered Palestinians in more than 200 little ghettos in the Western Bank and Gaza Strip.
Unfortunately, occupation seldom ends willingly. The occupier agrees to return land for peace only when he feels that there is no other choice. Such a circumstance can emerge as a result of the implementation of UN resolutions such as nos. 194, 242, 338, and 1405. How to do that is the responsibility of the UN and in particular the civilized and democratic countries. The words of George W. Bush "When I say withdraw I mean it" are still fresh! Another approach talks about resistance in all forms so as to plant and spread horror and cause heavy casualties to the occupier and thus force it to comply with the UN resolutions and withdraw.
We believe that the ideal strategy for the Palestinians and the peace movements among the Israelis and the rest of the democratic world would be to put the focus on ending the occupation through non-violent resistance. Such a non-violent Intifada should concentrate nationally on ending occupation and settlement and lead to peace and statehood for the Palestinians in the remaining 22 percent of historical Palestine. The peace and liberal movements and parties in Israel would join such a just and peaceful campaign for the mutual benefit of Israelis and Palestinians and thus allow them to live next to each other peacefully and with respect. A near-saint leader such as Mahatma Gandhi is not on the horizon in the Middle East. Therefore it is morally imperative that the international, democratic, and civilized community intervene to end the bloodshed, hatred, violence, and destruction in the Holy Land and bring security to both Israelis and Palestinians. America s credibility in the Middle East has been damaged, especially among the Arab people who number approximately 300 million. A peace broker in a conflict situation has to try to be even-handed and not a partner in the conflict. Nice words have little weight when calculations and considerations of elections and economic interests take top priority. It seems that other parties such as the UN, the European Union, Russia, Japan, and China can be more active to bring about a just, everlasting, and comprehensive peace with security between the State of Israel and the Palestinians on one hand, and with the rest of the Arab world on the other. Ending the conflict and establishing normal relations with the Arab World would be a major achievement for Israel.The camp in Jenin is small, approximately one square kilometer andthe number of its inhabitants is about thirteen thousand. It is estimatedthat fifty Israeli tanks, 250 missile strikes a day and dozens of F-16sorties, hammered the camp for over a week during the month of April. Overa third of its population became instantly homeless. Napoleon said "inwar, morale considerations account for three quarters and the actualbalance of force only for the other quarter."Myths are very important for nations throughout the whole world.The fighting in Jenin will be described in history by various terms andsettings depending on ideologies of the writers and historians. It may bedescribed as a story of disaster, an earth quake, a nest of terrorism,tough resistance, a massacre, a second Sabra and Shatila, the Stalingrad ofPalestine, or just beyond belief. Jenin might be regarded as thePalestinian Massada similar to that of the Jews against the Romans in 71A.D. However one thing is clear, what happened in Jenin will not be amongthe glorious chapters of Israel s modern history. The Myths of the Jenincamp and of Arafat s compound, or muqata an in Ramallah, may fire up theconsciousness of the Palestinian people. They may demonstrate the power ofweakness against the weakness of power. After 54 years of suffering asrefugees, the Palestinians look for peace and justice, while the Israelislook for peace and security. Does security lead to peace or does peace lead to security?