Sharon’s Easter War is the end of a chapter, not of the story.
This week, we learned the full measure of despair and humiliation. Our protests and petitions, emails and demonstrations turned out powerful as charms and curses against tanks. Politically correct, or outrageous, witty or rude, friends of equality in Palestine were outgunned. The US President acclaimed ‘Israeli right to self-defence’; BBC and CNN found a formula ‘in response’; and Sharon’s troops invaded Palestinian towns. They effectively eliminated the Palestinian self-rule and carried out intensive searches, mass arrests, and cold-blooded executions. In Bethlehem, a peaceful demonstration of European non-violent protesters was machine-gunned by the invaders. Local people speak of dozens murdered Palestinians, shot point-blank. Israel and the US, long managed by a single set of men, block the UN and the international organisations, while preparing the part two of their operation, invasion of Gaza.
It is difficult time, but not as bleak as our enemies would like us to think. The suborned Western media reported on ‘fighting between Palestinians and Israelis’; but, as a matter of fact, Israeli soldiers met little resistance. Why the fabulously brave Palestinian fighters did not give a fight to the invading Jews?
One answer is obvious, and it was offered by the Israeli journalist and peace activist, Uri Avneri. The disparity of force is too big for the poorly equipped Palestinians to take on the third strongest army in the world backed up by its tame Juggernaut, the US. But there is another reason Avneri did not mention: the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) hasn’t become the national symbol worth defending and dying for the Palestinians. Life under PNA remained life under Jewish rule.
It is not the right time to dwell on PNA’s faults well described by Robert Fisk and many others. I shall quote only Muna Hamzeh from Deheishe refugee camp, who wrote: ‘Since Arafat and his authority took control of Zone A in Bethlehem in December 1995, this is what he has used "funds" for in Bethlehem: to build a new police station with a new jail; new headquarters for his Preventive Security forces; new headquarters for his intelligence; new presidential headquarters for Arafat and his VIP guests; and a personal helicopter pad built on Jabal Anton, a small hilltop overlooking Dheisheh and the only natural extension for the camp, where Arafat would have been better off building a playground for the refugee camp's children. This is what Arafat built in Bethlehem. (‘Holocaust Revisited’, 12.3.02)
Muna Hamze exaggerated: Bethlehem received a fresh facelift, its roads were paved, Manger square refurbished, new hotels opened and quality of life improved in the years of PNA administrative control. Still she expressed the gut feeling of many her countrymen, from Professor Said to the refugees in Deheishe, deeply unsatisfied with the PNA. Whether they tried to deliver the goods to the ultimate ruler, Israel, or to the squeezed population, they weren’t popular. PNA was established by the Israelis in order to police Palestinian population. It was not established to improve Palestinians’ life. I doubt it could do much more.
In the unfolding Palestinian holocaust, PNA was forced to play a morally ambiguous, nay, impossible part of Judenrat, the Jewish Authority, established by Germans in the ghetto and camps of the occupied Europe. Germans had as little desire as Israelis to police and administrate their alien subjects. They preferred to give them a limited self-rule in internal affairs. Some enlightened Nazis were ready to arrange a separate Jewish state with the framework of the Third Reich, somewhat along the lines of Sharon’s vision of the Palestinian state. They actually did it around Lublin, an area of Poland with big Jewish population. It had a few names: Lublinland, Jewishland, Judenland, Jewish Reserve, and Jewish Autonomous Area.
After the war, there were many books and plays produced on the activities of this Jewish Authority. Jews were unhappy with their own Judenrat, they considered it ‘corrupt’, ‘attentive to demands of the enemy’, and other allegations so familiar to us today. But Judenrat could not achieve more that it did. Nor could the PNA. Palestinians did not receive a bout de soufflé, they were and remained subjects of the Jewish apartheid state, within or without the PNA.
Sharon’s invasion buried forever the screwy idea of Palestinian self-rule (‘independence’) on a small slice of Palestine. It was basically the Nazi idea of Lublinland transferred to Ramallah by the Jewish pseudo-left. The idea of democracy in all of Palestine, liquidation of apartheid, came again to the forefront. Do not look back with nostalgia for the days of PNA; look forward with hope to the tomorrow’s free and democratic Palestine, from the River to the Sea.
Muna Hamze called her essay ‘Holocaust Revisited’. The holocaust image has been evoked by Jose Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel Prize winning writer, who compared the besieged Ramallah with the Warsaw Ghetto. Saramago, who just yesterday was glorified by the Jewish press because of his unorthodox treatment of Jesus, became an object of massive attack. Among the attackers, there were the leading lights of Israeli Jewish pseudo-Left, Ari Shavit and Tom Segev.
Tom Segev mobilized his pen to the service of the Jewish state. “Saramago declared that Israel's actions in the territories are comparable to the crimes that were perpetrated at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. That sounds more like something he read on the inside of the door of a public lavatory than something he wrote in his books. What he said was harmful to the cause it was supposed to serve, so he also emerged from the episode looking stupid. “
Somehow I got tired of hearing this well-meaning mantra, harmful to the cause, from the Jewish “left-wing” advisers to Palestinians, from Tom Friedman or Tom Segev. I do not believe they wish this cause to succeed. And now, the practical difference between the Jewish ‘soft left’ and ‘hard right’ became cosmetic. The following lines were written by a ‘leftist’ Ari Shavit, but they could be written by ‘extreme rightist’ Barbara Amiel, Conrad Black’s wife and a friend to Sharon and Pinochet: “The things Jose Saramago said on Monday in Ramallah were not clear criticism of the occupation. They were an ugly incitement against the Jews. They were not merely foolish, nor only a statement of groundless historical fact. They were a form of bloodletting. For if Ramallah is Auschwitz - and that's the parallel Saramago drew - then Israel is the Third Reich. It deserves extinction. Maybe not all its citizens should be killed, but its sovereign institutions should be smashed. And if Ramallah is Auschwitz, then Tel Aviv is Dresden. Burning it would not be a war crime.”
Professor Alan Stoleroff well answered him: “once again there is an attempt by a left-wing Israeli to face the cold facts of the ongoing crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation. If Saramago's words, or my own Jewish words, had compared the encirclement and the blockades to the Warsaw ghetto, would you react the same way? Didn't it come out in Israeli papers that an Israeli general had urged the study of Nazi tactics at Warsaw in order to put down the Intifada? Didn't Israeli soldiers stamp serial numbers on detained Palestinians? Don't 40% of Israeli Jews respond positively to survey questions when asked if they favor transfer of the Arabs? And the carpet bombing of Dresden WAS itself a war crime”.
If Shavit insists, I am ready to oblige: Israel, this Jewish apartheid state, deserves to disappear. Its sovereign institutions indeed should be dismantled. And its supporters elsewhere turn themselves into participants of the war crimes, and into combatants to their own peril. They would not be able to claim their neutrality. The chasm is not an ethnic or religious, as proven by Jerry Levin of Alabama.
Jerry Levin--CNN's Bureau Chief in Beirut, who was held hostage by the Hizballah in 1984-85--and who these days, is working with CPT (the Christian Peacemaker Teams) to protect defenseless Palestinian children, women, and men from settler rage and violence. He reminds of “Adam Shapiro, who is Jewish, is a member of the International Solidarity movement, and works in Ramallah”. One should add marvellous Jennifer Loewenstein, whose report from Gaza came now in Palestine networks, and other friends of equality elsewhere. These people of differing opinions together with their friends take on the “left-right” block of Jewish supremacists.
Israel Shamir is an Israeli journalist based in Jaffa. His articles can be found on the site www.israelshamir.net In order to subscribe to this list or to be removed from it, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org Ask for permission in order to publish as hard copy.