Israel, The Bombing and The Truth

Tue, 12 Aug 1997 18:55:17 +0300


The truth from Israel (Occupied Palestine)*

About one hundred years ago, one of my extended family visited Palestine and wrote an article: "Truth from Erets Israel" (the biblical name of Palestine) .

He complained about the Jewish colonists who took advantage of the mutiny of indigenous peasants against authorities and so occupied part of their fields. He warned the colonists that the peasants will never concede and that blood will be forever between them and the dispossessed.

A few days ago, M. Benbenisty, a former vice mayor of Jerusalem and a descendant of an "eastern" parent (His father was the headmaster of the grammar school, me and the author's brother - three years younger than him - learnt in the same class) wrote his usually opposition article in "Haarets" the liberal daily of Israel.

What follows is a rough translation of it.


The draconian measures implemented by the government in response to the terrorist attacks in Mahane Yehuda market place (it is the oldest and most famous market place of Zionist Jerusalem, It is located in the center of Jerusalem, visited mostly by people of low socio-economic strata - I.S.) aroused sharp criticism with divergent emphases - according to the specific approach and sensitivity of each critic.

Some deny the efficiency of the steps taken and claimed that the implementation of these will not prevent further terror but will worsen it... but they did not question Israel's right to implement collective punishment on an innocent population.

Others, stressed the cruelty of starving whole populations and preventing urgently needed medical treatment, and warned of the implications on the peace process that the intentional inflicting of humiliation on the Palestinian Authority will have.

One decision (not yet implemented), to disrupt broadcasting of Radio Palestine got special criticism and has been widely covered by the communication media. The human rights association proclaimed that: "It is a severe breach of basic rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of press and the right of the public to information".

The blockade on the populated area of the occupied zones, the denial of freedom of passage for millions and the permission for only 5 trucks of flour to enter the Gaza strip - have not received very angry criticism. After all, people who eat their fill worry more for freedom of speech than freedom from hunger.

The critics of the government steps did not take lightly the silence of the main opposition and they criticize it too. They regarded the deferring of the criticism till the end of the seven days of mourning decided by the chairman of the "Work Party" (AVODA) as a ridiculous and scornful muteness, which was meant to woo the raging population which demanded "strong measures".

On the other hand, perhaps the restrained criticism of the Avoda party indicates an intellectual integrity: when they were in authority, they adopted similar draconian measures in response to suicide bombing attacks. The fact is that they were not so clumsy as Netaniahu (the prime minister - I.S.) and refrained from such ridiculous measures as disrupting radio broadcasting, but both internal (between cities and villages in the occupied areas - I.S.) and external (between them and Israel - I.S.) measures like inflicting hunger on Gaza Strip and mass arrests were at their time "appropriate response"; so honestly, what they can say now?

These critics of Netaniahu government may claim that one must regard the policy of the present government in the context of the striving to strangle the Oslo agreement, while the measures of the Avoda government (which implemented the same measures) intended them to strengthen the process initiated and applied by it.

One can not relay on the convincing power/ability of the above tricky claim, on the population restricted to Shchem (a city in the western occupied territories - I.S.) or the hunger stricken population of Gaza strip. It is also in doubt, if this tricky claim can convince the Israeli people who believe that collective punishment is undefendable act, whatever are the motives of the one inflicting it.

The feeling of opportunities missed is intensified by the reckless and clumsy policy of the worst government Israel has had. But, it does not mean that Oslo process is the limit of the dreams for a solution of all peace craving people, or, that the Oslo agreements are a manifesto that declare adherence to supreme values of freedom, equality and fraternity.

In essence, one can even say that the policy of the prevalent Licud government can be justified by sections of the Oslo agreement, in each of them was found expression of the Israelis traditional conception of negotiation from the point of superior power and using this to dictate arrangements which force the weaker opponent to an inferior and nearly helpless position.

Yes!! it comes to stress that even the original agreement by the previous government was an act of terror in the true Zionist tradition. It means that in it were all the justifications needed by Netaniahu to act as he does.

Though in the days long passed of the "proclamation of principals" it seemed that Israel got free from these conceptions, arising from fear for its existence, and was wise enough to adopt brave principled decisions, with the ultimate recognition of the Palestinian nation and its representative the PLO.

But, even in those days, after a short while, the old conceptions got the upper hand, and with the help of the magic word "security", the arrangements decided on, will ensure for ever Israeli control of the Palestinian nation, though in a new and sophisticated manner.

The stopping of the transfer of funds that belongs to the Palestinian authority is a breach of the Paris agreements (accompanying the Oslo agreement - I.S.). But, even these agreements established the absolute control of Israel on the Palestinian economy. They made the Palestinian authority a weakling which asks for charity of the "contributing countries".

The "strips and stains" on the map which form the autonomous regions, made them islands of control, like fenced camps, the keys of whose gates are in the hands of Israel, to open and shut them according to its own interests and whims.

It is true that in past days Uri Savir (Avoda) and Abu Mazan (Palestinian authority) were kissing each other weekly, and now, the Israeli and Palestinian delegation exchange verbal blows . But, any one who visited the "command posts of communication and co-ordination" knows that nothing really changed: the military ruling administration is alive in the present Licud government like it was in the previous Avoda government.

The anger and despair resulting from the criticism of the government steps is not because of its intensity but because it was predictable. The tragedy was absorbed in the arid ground of the political conversation. Those taking part in it are not going with their shopping bags to the Machine Yehuda market *************************** * Amateur Translator & Alternative Psychologist Ilan Shalif

* In collaboration with Andrew Flood

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