Genevieve Cora Fraser
As the Apartheid Wall continues to snake and squeeze its way through the occupied Palestinian landscape, like a giant Israeli boa-constrictor killing and devouring along its path, is the ultimate purpose to annihilate Palestinians?
Frequently, Israeli/Zionist sympathizers email me who claim, “There is no Palestine.” They declare that Palestine never existed and that Palestinians do not exist. According to them, Israel?s existence is biblically ordained and the current population that occupies the West Bank and Gaza are usurpers.
I uncovered another example of this attitude on a website called Political Agora ? The Place for Politics, where someone posted an article I wrote, “Dispossession of the Palestinians Must be Made Central to US Presidential Debate.” Along with the US presidential campaign, the article speaks of the recent UN Report on the starvation and dehydration of the Palestinians as a direct result of Israeli policies. In a message response, someone wrote, “Americans are tired of worrying (sic) about so called Palestinians! We managed to get Israel to give them land and what did the Palestinians do? They bite the hand that feeds them. If they would leave Israel alone Israel would leave them alone.” Someone else wrote, “Errrr.....what are Palestinians?........I’ve looked in lots of books but can find no reference to them. Are you referring to Palestinian Arabs from Jordan?”
Occasionally, when emailed about the non-existence of Palestine and Palestinians, I will respond that Palestine is an historical as well as a current reality. I speak of it being the biblical Holy Land named after the Philistines by the Romans who occupied the region before the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus was a 1st century Palestinian and as Christianity spread beyond Palestinian borders, it is no coincidence that the Catholic Church became based in the seat of the ancient empire in Rome. I suggest that doubters who question the historical existence of Palestine check out books and manuscripts that existed prior to the 20th century. For example, I recently purchased a facsimile of a book, “The History of the Knights Templars,” by Charles G. Addison which was first published in London in 1842. There are not only frequent references to Palestine taken from 11th- 14th century manuscripts; the book includes a map of Southern Syria and Palestine.
On October 25, 2003, over 100,000 people marched through the streets of Washington, D.C. in the largest anti-war protest since George W. Bush’s May 1 speech on the U.S.S. Lincoln aircraft carrier where he proclaimed “Mission Accomplished.” Co-sponsored by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) and United for Peace and Justice, the demonstration continued to grow throughout the day, reaching its peak by mid-afternoon. A Washington Post article stated “By the time the front of the march reached the Justice Department the last demonstrators were only leaving the assembly area. The march stretched more than 20 city blocks filling them curb to curb including Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington’s eight lane boulevard.”
Those working for an end to war against Iraq have always stood side by side with those working to end the occupation of Palestine.
What the Post article and other articles failed to note was that at least half the speeches prior to the march and chants during the march were Pro-Palestinian. I base this statement not on news stories but on direct personal experience. I was positioned in the lead of the march as part of A.N.S.W.E.R.?s security team. There were concerns that counter demonstrators would attempt to disrupt the peaceful nature of the march and demonstration. If accomplished, it would have stood in stark contrast to our stated aim? to promote Peace and Justice. About midway we spotted a counter-demonstration on a grassy knoll to the left of the route. A group had assembled with a large Star of David Israeli flag and signs that read ? ANNIHILATE PALESTINIANS. As the Pro-Israel group shouted out hatred, vilification, and a demand for the destruction of the people of Palestine, our 100,000 plus marchers responded with an emotion-filled chant for a FREE PALESTINE.
Though months have passed since the October demonstration, I still react with shock and revulsion at the memory of members of the American Jewish community boldly proclaiming their murderous intent publicly in the heart of Washington, a symbol of Freedom and Justice for the world. However, it is encouraging to realize that many of the speakers at the demonstration were peace-loving members of Pro-Palestinian Jewish organizations or Jewish leaders of Pro-Palestinian groups. To counter the rise of anti-Semitism throughout the world, which is largely a result of Israel atrocities committed against the Palestinians, it is crucial for members of the Jewish community to speak out whenever possible. (Palestinian suicide bombings are not only relatively rare and intermittent, they are born of a resistance movement to the Israeli occupation which sponsors a brutal 24/7 military assault on a largely unarmed population. Though, if Israel continues to up the ante, I suspect the Palestinian response will also begin to accelerate.)
In an article published by the Daily Star out of Beirut, Peter Speetjens, a leading Israeli sociologist referred to Prime Minister Sharon?s statement that “the Israeli war of independence isn?t over yet.” According to Speetjens, Sharon?s words ? are not only “a clear call for the creation of Greater Israel? they were recently repeated by Sharon?s (extreme) right hand man, Moshe Yalon, who defined the Palestinian conflict as an ?internal cancer? and the Israeli reaction as ?chemotherapy.?”
While building walls of conquest on one part of Palestine, the Israeli state is busy knocking walls down in the homes of Palestinians.
Referencing Hebrew University professor Baruch Kimmerling?s book, “Politicide: The Wars of Ariel Sharon Against The Palestinians,” Speetjens points out that by “combining the words politics and genocide, the author defines politicide as: ?a policy that has as its ultimate goal the disappearance of the Palestinian people as a legitimate social, political and economic entity. This process implies eventually, but not necessarily, a partial or total ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by removing them from the land known as Greater Israel.?”
Frankly, defining Palestinian ethnic cleansing as “removing them from the land” is a highly sanitized version of the reality as practiced by the Zionist dominated Israeli government. As Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative states in his article, The Ethnic Cleansing of Rafah, “Israeli persecution of the population of Rafah has been relentless. The most populous district of one of the most densely-overcrowded regions on earth, the people of Rafah continue to find the land beneath them dwindling as repeated Israeli incursions systematically rob them of their homes, livelihood and dignity.”
“Formally one complete city, Rafah was divided in two following the Camp David settlement in 1978, with one half now part of Egypt. Since then, Israeli settlements have been established along the coast, cutting further into the already divided city,” Barghouthi states. “Today, the Palestinian half of Rafah is a disparate collection of squalid camps, hemmed in by a ring of steel, its infrastructure effectively destroyed and its people destitute. Unemployment in the area stands at over 80%. Israel has conspicuously targeted the city?s infrastructure leaving sanitation in the camps in a deplorable condition.”
Barghouthi continued the sordid tale with a report of current Israeli activity. “On the fringes of the city, one row of houses after another has been erased, the Israeli destruction moving at a pace that the crippled local infrastructure cannot hope to counter. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has helped rebuild 200 houses in Rafah, and the Palestinian ministry of housing has managed 34, but these figures pale in comparison to the 1,643 buildings demolished and 16,000 Palestinians left homeless by the Israelis.”
In frenzies of destructive power, whole districts of Rafah and elsewhere have been wiped out, leaving thousands with nothing left but hatred for Israelis.
“Last week, Israeli occupying troops went on yet another destructive rampage on the edge of the city, demolishing 31 Palestinian houses and wounding 38 local workers in the process. This one raid alone has left over 400 people homeless. A neighborhood mosque was also razed in the invasion, another clear symbol of the casual disregard in which the Palestinians are held,” Barghouti said.
Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of Israel?s total disregard for Palestinian life was enunciated by Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris in his infamous Haaretz interview in January. Morris not only justifies the gang rape/murders, the scores of massacres, the dispossession of property and other worldly possessions, and the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 as part of a natural birthing process for Israel, he expresses regret that they didn?t finish the job. Morris recommends further ethnic cleansing of not only Palestinians but the Arab Israelis. Apparently, the Semite Arabs are barbaric people while the predominantly white European Zionist a superior stock. (The Jews of Color who might also have significant Semite bloodlines make a terrific serving class as evidenced by the economic realities of Israel.) The pathological sense of entitlement by individuals subscribing to this madness can be easily satirized, but the death, dehumanization and destruction they create as they enact the grandiosity of the Zionist vision is of the utmost criminality, deserving stiff sanctions administered by the world community.
That brings us to the racist, Apartheid Wall, further extended by an electrified, razor-wire fence. The erection of the world?s largest prison/ghetto/concentration camp is an engineering feat that requires the invasion of farms and fields, Palestinian refugee camps, villages and cities by massive troops of Israeli occupying forces who close all entrances and intersections, before the real brutalization begins. Then the bulldozing of Palestinian homes becomes the centerpiece and justification for the installation of an alleged security barrier that not so surprisingly doesn?t separate Israel from Palestine but rather the aforementioned “cleansing” of Palestinians from their land. Tanks and armored personnel carriers serve as guard duty for D-9 military bulldozers as they advance under an aerial shield of combat helicopters amidst a barrage of random fire. Somehow ethnic cleansing doesn?t come off so much as clean but an exercise in state-sponsored terrorism, violent, brutal, and murderously obscene.
The Israeli state is performing unambiguous acts of ethnic cleansing. Will the world continue to look on with dispassion and disinterest?
But where the Wall/Fence is fully erected, the true cleansing begins. Let?s call it genocide on the sly. In places such as Qalqiliya, a population of 46,000, there is only one entrance, a gate and a key. Dr. Barghouthi in talks before an American audience described the new facts on the ground. “The gate is opened between 6:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the evening. At times the gate is closed, simply shut tight without warning which makes it the largest prison on earth.” The Israeli military also requires thousands of Palestinians living near the Apartheid Wall to obtain permits to live in their homes with no guarantee that the permits will be granted. It is another way to annex or steal their land, Barghouthi explained.
Abdel Rahman Al Tamimi of the Palestinian Hydrology Group states that the Wall?s path is based on ultimate control over Palestinian water resources, and while the physical construction of the Wall is new, the philosophy behind the Wall is not. “The path of the Wall in its first phase, in the Northern West Bank, is by no means coincidental, neither in its route nor in its being the first target area for the construction of the Wall. This is due to the fact that the first phase of the Wall takes place in the area of the Western Aquifer, the largest source of water in historic Palestine after the Jordon River.” Al Tamimi states in an article published by the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), “Past and present Israeli policy, public rhetoric by politicians and water experts, as well as practical implementation on various levels, all point to the planned total Israeli control of the Western Aquifer, now made possible by the construction of the Wall.”
“Security is a pretext,” Al Tamimi continues. “Israeli rhetorical claims to the contrary make it important to reiterate that the Wall is not a security measure. If the Wall is in fact for security, then how do Israeli demands that security and separation are synonymous coincide with the Wall?s annexation and inclusion into west of the Wall 16 communities in the first phase alone? Why is the first phase of the Wall in the north and not in the southern or central West Bank? Again, the path of the Wall is parallel or compatible not with the geographical reality but with the hydrological one. This provides further evidence that the Wall, in its first and most significant phase, is a part of Israel?s water and land confiscation policy.”
A hint of what most assuredly will be in the cards for Palestine unless the United Nations or World Court intervenes is found in a report published by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on October 31, 2003. The right to food report by the Special Rapporteur, Jean Ziegler, Mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories testifies to the extremely harsh security measures imposed by the Occupying Israeli Forces since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 that has left Palestine “on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe,” to quote Ziegler.
During a press briefing at the time of its release, Zeigler said, “Behind the headlines of escalating violence, there is the hidden danger of escalating physical, social and psychological destruction of an ancient society. This tragedy is being largely ignored by world public opinion, the mass media and the international community of nations.”
Ziegler sited Israel’s closure of Palestinian areas, imposition of curfews and restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement as reasons for the problems. “These practices are rooted in an overall policy of occupation that continues to expand Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, isolate Palestinian communities from one another and destroy Palestinian homes and farmland,” he said.
Information was gathered for the report in July of 2003. Since that time conditions have further deteriorated. However at the time the report was developed 22 per cent of Palestinian children under 5 were suffering from malnutrition, 15.6 per cent of Palestinian children suffered from acute anemia, which could lead to permanent impairment of physical and mental development, while 9.3 per cent have already suffered permanent, irreversible brain damage from acute malnutrition, a three- and eight-fold increase, respectively, over 2000 figures. The report also indicated that food consumption by Palestinians has fallen 30 per cent on average per person and 60 per cent of Palestinian households now live in acute poverty and half of them depend on international food aid.
“A formerly vibrant economy has almost collapsed and the numbers of the extremely poor have tripled since September 2000,” the report states. Too many Palestinians were cut off from the land they need for their livelihoods, thanks to the establishment of military zones, the construction of a security fence and what he described as a Bantustan-style policy of separating communities. “Even when food is available, many Palestinians cannot afford to buy it due to the rapid rise in unemployment. Over 50 percent of Palestinians are now completely dependant on food aide, and yet humanitarian access is frequently restricted.”
Because Palestinians can queue for days to get through checkpoints, no family can rely on either regular income or regular supplies of food.
“An unprecedented level of restrictions on the movements of Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories is depriving Palestinians not only of their freedom of movement, but of their right to food. Restrictions on movement means that many Palestinians cannot feed themselves: they cannot go to work, go to harvest their fields or go buy food?. Journeys that would have taken minutes now take hours or days.”
“Permission to cross at checkpoints for agricultural produce and other food can be refused for days without explanation. At various checkpoints in the West Bank, the Rapporteur saw truckloads of fruit and vegetables rotting in the sun.” The report continues with an account of the deliberate policy of dehydration caused by the destruction of water pipes, wells, water tankers and Palestinian roof top tanks.
The widespread denial of adequate food and water to people living under occupation not only constitutes an act of collective punishment prohibited under international law, it virtually assures that any future plans for a Palestinian state would be unworkable. Israeli policies effectively prohibit most Palestinians from providing for themselves. It is clear from the UN Report on the Right to Food that instead of meeting their obligation, the State of Israel has done everything in its power to deny adequate access of food and water to the Palestinians. The result is that acute malnutrition and dehydration conditions exist for many if not most Palestinians.
If Israel is allowed to continue in gross violation of all human rights, it will have succeeded in creating a society where the Palestinian people are held in cages and can only function at the will and whim of the Israelis. Rumor has it that industrial areas are planned where Palestinians will serve as slave labor? or die. Meanwhile close to a quarter of the children under five, the future of Palestine, are so starved and dehydrated they risk permanent brain damage, that is, if they are able to live at all. This is of course a perfect solution for the much feared Palestinian demographic issue. Today, mass slaughter and gas ovens are too obvious, too reminiscent of the horrors of the European Jewish past; besides, those tactics are not needed, the Israeli Zionist leadership is clever and has other plans.
On February 23, in response to a UN General Assembly request, the Hague-based International Court of Justice a.k.a. the World Court will rule whether Israel is legally obliged to tear down the Apartheid Wall. Israel has formally challenged the Court?s right to rule on the issue stating that the court should not and cannot deal with this political issue, “which has to be dealt with by direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.” But the Palestinian Authority insists that the World Court has full jurisdiction to decide the case involving 3.5 million Palestinians being held against their will.
Submitted by the author to the World Crisis Web.
Article courtesy of the Arabic Media Internet Network
Genevieve Cora Fraser