NPK-info 27-10-2001 - Nederlands Palestina Komitee / www.palestina-komitee.nl

Weekendreading - Iets voor dit weekend, NPK/WL 27-10-2001

Indymedia, Israel
October 25, 2001

                         STOP ISRAEL!

                          Tanya Reinhart

For a whole week now, The Israeli army has been terrorizing cities
and villages in the West Bank. As in the darkest days at the beginning
of the present Intifada, desperate voices and reports pour through
the internet, telling of massive shelling, including schools,
hospitals, the university and a maternity house in Bethlehem, of
curfew, houses being seized or destroyed, water tanks ruined in refugee
camps. In Beit Reema, the site of Israel's latest show of horror,
Ambulances were not allowed in. local residents witnessed that the
wounded were left lying for 5 hours before they were allowed medical
care (Ha'aretz Oct 25).  Dr Majed Nassar of the Beit Sahour Medical
Center reports on Wednesday evening, Oct 24 that "Today we stopped
counting the dead and wounded, since the number rises hourly."

The snipers are back, aiming carefully to kill or maim for life.
They are not targeting only those that Israel selected to define as
"wanted".  Of the 26 killed until Oct 23, 16 were civilians, including
4 women, a little girl, and two youths under 16 (Hass, Ha'aretz Oct
24). In the town of Sanour south of Jenin City, 18 year-old Ghada
was picking olives with family members, when Israeli snipers opened
fire towards them. She was shot in the neck and died instantly. "She
was  a very kind and loving girl," her mother said.  "She was very
helpful at  home  and in the farm. Her sisters and brothers looked
up to her.  She  had  a whole life ahead of her and they murdered
her in cold blood." (Palestine Media Center, Oct 22).

The Israeli tanks will be forced, eventually, to pull out back to
the outskirts of the cities, but this won't bring Ghada back to life.
Nor would their departure arise great expectations for Hussam Jabar's
family from Beit Jala. "The army had seized their house on Thursday,
using a ping pong table to barricade the seven members of the family
into the kitchen, and setting up machine-gun posts in the children's
bedrooms." When the army started pulling out from Beit Jala, leaving
his house "peppered with bullet holes from Palestinian gunmen, and
strewn with the debris of some two dozen Israeli soldiers", he told
Suzanne Goldenberg from The Guardian that "the Israeli army would
soon be back. 'Do you think it makes a difference if they left? They
are going back and forth. What makes you think that they have really
left?' he said. 'We have an inner feeling that we are an expendable
people." (The Guardian, Oct 24).

Indeed this has been the pattern for a long while now. The army enters
the cities, sows destruction, and then 'under pressure' pulls out
a few hundred meters, till the next time. Each time the scale is

This time, Israel describes it as an act against terror, retaliating
for the assassination of Zeevi. "We are doing precisely what the US
is doing in Afghanistan" - explained Raanan Gissin, a spokesman of
Sharon, to CNN on Wednesday, Oct 24. Sharon's Czechoslovakia analogy
of October 4 (-the world sacrifices Czechoslovakia-Israel, to please
Arafat-Hitler) did not find much sympathy even in Israel. The current
analogy Sharon has been developing is that Arafat equals Bin Laden,
or to give this some more credibility, Arafat and the PA equal the
Taliban who host Bin Laden. "Sharon, apparently deliberately echoing
President George W. Bush's remarks after the terrorist attacks in
New York and Washington last month, told an emergency meeting of senior
ministers that after the killing of cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi,
'the situation is different today, and will not again be like it was
yesterday'." (Ha'aretz, October 18).

The consequences of this analogy are obvious: "Israel's Security
Cabinet is understood to have sent a blunt message to Mr Arafat that
unless Israel's conditions for the extradition etradiction of the
killers and the outlawing of all Palestinian terror organizations
were adhered to within one week he 'would be treated in the way in
which the US treats the Taliban'." (The Times (London), Oct 19). "We
will wage all-out war on the terrorists, those who collaborate with
them and those who send them" -Sharon promised in his speech to the
special Knesset session in memory of the assassinated minister. "As
far as I am concerned, the era of Arafat is over." (there).

Possibly, Sharon and his cabinet count on the Western world to swallow
this analogy. If the standards are that the whole Afghan people can
be  bombarded and starved to death as a collective punishment for
an act of terror, why shouldn't Israel follow the same standards?

Indeed, for almost a week, Israel has been allowed to carry its work
of destruction undisturbed. Until Monday, Oct 23, the US and others
expressed some dissatisfaction, but nothing else.  This contrasts
sharply with the endless international pressure on Arafat. "US Consul
General in Jerusalem Ronald Schlicher met with Arafat, and demanded
that he take swift action against those responsible for the
assassination. European Union nations were also pressing the
Palestinians to make arrests...U.N. Middle East envoy Terje Larsen
met three times with Arafat, telling the Palestinian leader that he
must order the arrests of the murderers" (Ha'aretz, Oct 18), and that's
how it went on the whole week.

Why didn't anybody exert the same pressure on Israel, right at the
start, not to 'retaliate'? In the prevailing frame of mind it is
unthinkable to even ask why nobody puts pressure on Sharon to arrest
the Israeli army terrorists who assassinated Palestinian political
leaders. But at least he could be pressed to wait the week that Arafat
was formally given in the cabinet's decision.

This may look mysterious to the many who just a long week ago attached
hopes to the new 'Peace initiative' which the US has launched since
the beginning of October. "The idea of a Palestinian state has always
been part of a vision", Bush declared solemnly on the 2nd of October.
It was leaked that the US had already prepared a detailed plan for
a peace settlement, that was only frozen because of the September
11 events. We heard that a draft of a speech by Powell was prepared
for the event, which he will soon find the right occasion to deliver.

Only few in the Western media expressed the kind of skepticism that
this was met with in the Arab media. As Michael Jansen noted in the
Jordanian Time of October 5, "the timing of the Bush remark and the
leak are important. They came on the eve of visits by US Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Washington
is eager to convince these governments to permit the use of their
territory for the coming offensive against Afghanistan... Once again,
Arab governments are supposed to sign on to a US program of action
without any concrete quid pro quo... Thus, a vague Bush statement
and a leak by an anonymous official of the existence of a plan which
is not revealed are supposed to convince the Arabs that the
administration has good intentions."

The 'peace initiatives' intensified around the gathering of the
emergency meeting (Oct 9) of the Organization of Islamic Conference
(OIC), which includes 56 countries whose silence or cooperation were
important, at the moment to the US.  At this stage, more details were
flared up in the air to make it all look concrete, and Bush's
spokesman, Tony Blair, has entered the picture. Blair, who returned
to London from a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and
Egypt, was quite open in explaining the urgency: "One thing becoming
increasingly clear to me is the need to upgrade our media and public
opinion operations in the Arab and Muslim world". (The Guardian, Oct
12). This PR phase culminated in a joint press-conference of Blair
and Arafat in October 15.

It didn't require much creativity to generate this show. The script
was ready from the days of the Gulf war. To reward the Arab world
for its cooperation, the US organized the Madrid conference which
marked the era of an eternal 'peace process', thus allowing Israel
to continue the occupation undisturbed. This round, however, the US
feels much stronger, as the sole ruler of the world, and it is not
obvious at all that they intend to go on with even that much.

Aluf Ben reports in Ha'aretz Oct 18 that, "according to a US report",
Colin Powell is leaning towards a decision to cancel his plans to
deliver a speech on United States policy in the Middle East. "According
to the report, policy makers in the American administration feel that
there is no longer a need for a Powell speech because President George
Bush has already presented his vision for the Middle East in statements
over the past few weeks. With the cancellation of Powell's speech,
most of the steps planned by the administration for increased
involvement in the Middle East will have been removed from the
agenda... American diplomats sent a message to Sharon this week saying
that the administration has no plans to launch a Middle East diplomatic
initiative in the near future, and that any steps will be coordinated
with Israel in advance." (Though this appeared in Ha'aretz web site
at the day of Zeevi's assassination, it is obvious that the US report
was prepared earlier.)

Whether they do produce another fake peace show or not, the US has
backed Israel in all of its atrocities, always. None of these would
be possible without US military aid and political backing. Had the
US wanted to stop Israel now, this could be easily done at any moment -
  Just freeze immediately all military aid, for starts. Instead, on
Wednesday October 24, the day the headlines announced that Bush and
powell's patience with Israel is expiring, the US senate approved
again $2.76 billion in assistance for Israel, more than any other
country in the world. Out of this sum, $2.04 billion is a special
military aid (Ha'aretz web-site, Oct 25). The US may slow Sharon down
when he is becoming inconvenient, but they will not save the
Palestinians and will not end the occupation. No appeal to Powell
can change this.

                               *    *

It is possible to understand the hopes that many good souls attached
to the new US peace promises. Despair can lead people to cling to
any straw. Still, if you go in the morning to demonstrate against
the US slaughter of the Afghan people, it does not make much sense
to hope in the evening that the butcher will spare the Palestinians.

Hope can be found only in struggle. The times have indeed changed
since the beginning of the Palestinian Intifada. There is enormous
opposition to the US acts throughout the world, including the Western
world. And despite the constant bias of the Western media towards
Israel, the opposition to Israel is growing as well.

There is lots of room for struggle. Make 'Stop Israel!' a part of
any 'Stop the war' demonstration or leaflet. Apply all pressure you
can on your local media to send correspondents to Israel and bring
real coverage. Some European papers already do that, but the media
in the US is far behind. The presence of the press is not just a means
to find out the truth, it can also help restrain the brutality of
the Israeli army.

Israel still views itself as a democracy, so resistance is still
possible. There is a small, but courageous, opposition - including
people who stand daily in road blocks to monitor the brutality of
soldiers, smuggle aid to the villages under siege, or even stay in
the attacked areas to serve as human shields. There are many ways
to help their struggle - from donations to actual presence and
participation. (Contacts can be found through Indymedia, Israel -

The most important is, of course, to form contacts and aid the
Palestinian organizations. An exciting development in the last few
months has been the international solidarity movement. Individuals
from all over the world come to stay at the Palestinian areas, serve
as human shields and join political struggle. It is still possible
to do this, though it is getting more difficult and dangerous.
(Contact: http://www.palsolidarity.org).

Finally, there is one simple thing that anybody can do: Boycott Israel
- join, for starts, the consumers boycott which has been going on
for a while in various places in Europe. It is easy to do - just don't
buy 'made in Israel' products. But it is also a useful means of
political activity and education. In the days of the South-Africa
boycott, people used to sneak in to supermarkets and paste 'South
Africa' stickers on the relevant products. Leafletting outside
supermarkets, explaining why we boycott Israel is a good way to get
the information through.

Israel is not the US. It is a small country with hardly any economy,
and with a self-image completely detached from reality. It can be







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