In past hunger strikes, Palestinian political prisoners called for freedom, or at least for their plight to be recognized by Israeli and Palestinian officials. Today they are merely demanding that Israel abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention. But since these captive men and women (including many children) have no other choice but to keep their demands to a minimum, I don’t see why I should. I am not in Israeli custody; nor do I live at the mercy of Naveh and Hanegbi who would let me starve to death before they fix the sewer in my solitary confinement. Because I am not under the thumb of the Likud Party and its repressive regime, I decided to go to the extreme with my hunger strike demands list.
The combination of rock stars and politicians normally means a good but non-controversial cause is at hand, as the great and the good line-up to pay lip service to global poverty, or the environment, or something equally worthy. But until recently you would not expect the cool and the influential to come together for an issue as divisive as the Israel-Palestine conflict. But so violent is the record of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and so symbolically backward-looking the wall currently bull-dozing its way through the illegally-occupied Palestinian Territories, that it seems Palestine may be emerging as an issue to rival the anti-apartheid movement in its appeal to a base level sense of justice and injustice.
While the occupation forces are tightening the siege and carrying out “targeted killings”, battles between the Palestinians themselves have broken out, with militants shooting at each other, targeting leaders and burning headquarters. Occupation generals, politicians and commentators in Israel follow the events with glee or click their tongues sanctimoniously: “Didn?t we tell you? The Palestinians can?t rule themselves, there is no one to talk with, we have no partner for peace. When they are left to themselves, anarchy reigns.” Since the Sharon government is responsible for the present situation in Gaza in the first place, it resembles the son who kills both his parents and pleads in court: “Have mercy! I am an orphan!”
Is it the beginning of a genuine reform movement, or a destructive power struggle within a multi-headed and inflated security apparatus on the eve of an anticipated - but far from certain - Israeli pull-out from the Gaza Strip? Or is it a clever takeover attempt by former Security Chief Mohamed Dahlan, who has been cited as “the favorite candidate” by the Israeli intelligence and media, to assert his power as the strongest man in Gaza? Available information includes elements of all these scenarios, producing a reform movement entangled within a vicious power struggle between security war lords jockeying for position, either through direct support from Arafat or by positioning themselves for the post-Arafat era. A genuine evolving reform movement, meanwhile, risks being squashed, or even reduced to empty slogans.
Countering concerted pressure from the USA and its allies, the World Court has decided to apply the universal principles of justice to the actions of an Occupation that in its malicious intent, its devastating effects, its lengthening history, and its potential for fueling wars has no parallels in recent times. Yet, as predictably as it is tragic, Zionists in Israel and the USA ? both Christians and Jews ? have responded to the Court’s decision with hollow clich?s that carry little conviction except with a segment of Americans, some of whom are avowed Christian Zionists, others white supremacists, but most have been coaxed into hating Palestinians by a media that is both mendacious and malicious in the ways in which it constructs the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Palestinians are terrorists and anti-Semites to boot; the Israelis, under threat and in peril, are their innocent victims.
Since Israel is not willing to address how it is that she has brought destruction on to her own people because she will not dismantle her own illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, and she refuses to glance at the 5,000,000 plus Palestinians of whom she has made refugees, then she should build a wall. If necessary, she should build a wall that?s taller and thicker than this one. Build that wall and shut out the world, maybe even put a lid on it, and only give the key to your only friend, America. Build that wall, but build it on your own land (stolen) between Israel and Palestine, and not between Palestinians and their homes and families.
Guest Editorial by MIFTAH
Those who think that Palestinian leaders lack the will and the political savvy to organize effective peaceful protests against Israeli occupation would do well to visit a bustling tent off the Ar-Ram checkpoint on the road between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in which an extraordinary sit-in hunger strike, called five days ago by Dr. Azmi Bishara, the charismatic Israeli-Arab political leader and intellectual, is gathering momentum exponentially. Whether the strikers will eventually achieve their stated goal of bringing to an end Israel?s construction of the separation wall is debatable, but it is clear, from the conviction expressed by them, that they believe strongly enough in their cause to risk their lives for it.
There are close to 400,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon living in 13 camps ranging in size from 1,000 to 45,000. They are carefully (and deliberately, according to some refugees) distributed throughout the country but well away from the border with Palestine. On a recent visit to Lebanon where I?m from, a friend who works with Palestinian refugees arranged for a group of us to visit Shatila camp in Beirut. We asked for a general history of the camp before we were taken to see it. So she told us her story, a personal account of what she endured and saw.
Mustafa Al Barghouthi
Following a request from the UN General Assembly, the International Court of Justice is about to meet to discuss the legality of the wall being built in the Occupied Territories. Through 36 years of occupation the principles of the UN have been noticeably absent from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians have endured war, displacement, hunger, humiliation, and now ghettoization and imprisonment. They have suffered this under the watchful eyes of the international community, yet with no apparent recourse to international justice. Now, as the 23rd of February approaches, and the Palestinians look set to have their day in court, Israel has launched an immense defamation campaign in an attempt to de-legitimize the whole process.
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