By Nour Odeh
Palestine Media Center (PMC)
Illnesses manifests themselves in a series of symptoms, some of which can be rather painful. However, treating the symptoms can turn into a deadly “cure”, for it ignores the real, and maybe deadly, illness. A patient suffering from a brain tumor who takes headache pills to alleviate his suffering will actually kill himself because he does not treat the tumor.
Leaders in Israel and their allies throughout the world could draw valuable and life-saving lessons from this analogy.
Following the strongest bomb attack against Israel since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising, Israel and its Western allies availed the chance and treated the situation as a security issue. The Jerusalem Post quoted the Israeli cabinet’s 2 June statement, “The Israeli government has determined that the Palestinian Authority and Chairman Arafat are engaged in terrorist activity, encourage it, and are inciting to hatred and violence.” Along with this seeming declaration of war came a list of ultimatums and collective punishments…
The Israeli leadership announced it would punish the entire Palestinian People for the bomb attack in Tel Aviv by imposing merciless and illegal restrictions on their movement, lives, and livelihoods. These restrictions include the prohibition of entry of all chemical products, including petrol, cleaning products, and medicines in addition to barring the transfer of any money to banks in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Concurrently, Israel’s “Defense” Minister announced, “We won’t let this pass”.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Terje Lund’s 30 May, “I regard much of Israel's aggression against Palestinians to be pure terrorism.” This leading Norwegian expert in international law with extensive experience in investigating war crimes for the UN added, “[Israel] is guilty of crimes [including] abuse of civilians, illegal reprisals…and a long list of other war crimes”. Speaking regarding the bomb attacks against Israeli targets, Lund stated, “It is not easy to place the responsibility for these actions with Arafat.”
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat announced that the Palestinian leadership would “do its utmost to implement an unconditional and immediate end to the bloodshed on both sides.” He gave his orders to the Palestinian security officers to patrol the main friction points and prevent any initiation of fire from the Palestinian sides. So far, the Palestinian President has made good on his announcement.
In order to ensure that all possibilities of calm are assassinated before birth, the Israeli government let out a number of ultimatums. On 3 June, Israel’s Foreign Minister and chief disinformation man charged, “The real and only test will be the cessation of terrorism, the arrest of those involved, the inciters, the perpetrators, and those behind them.”
Israeli Minister Meir Shitreet said, “We need to see actions, not words.” At night, the American Secretary of State Colin Powell stated, “The Israelis of course don’t want just words; they need to see actions.” He then ordered the Palestinians to obediently “prove their good will to Israel”. Translating Israeli statements to English only to adopt them as American policy positions hours later is insulting by all human standards.
Interestingly, for eight months now, Israel has tirelessly targeted Palestinian security buildings and officers, killing tens of officers and destroying tens of buildings, in effect undermining the Palestinian security apparatuses. Israel has gone as far as preposterously charging the Palestinian security apparatuses with involvement in the “violence and terror attacks.”
For the sake of argument, one can ignore the fact that targeting prisons is against international and humanitarian law. But for the sake of being realistic and practical, one must wonder as to where these prisoners shall be kept under such circumstances. More importantly, one must wonder how a supposedly “democratic” country, i.e. Israel, could ask another nation’s leadership to imprison people en masse, without due process. Given such an outrageous demand, one is driven to believe that Israel does not regard human rights standards as applicable to the Palestinian People.
On 29 May, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused the Palestinian media of “spreading vicious incitement and encouraging hate”. He then ordered, “Just report the right thing”; whatever that may be in Mr. Sharon’s active imagination. The right to free expression aside, Sharon’s demand was to force a nation’s media to its occupier’s skewed perception of reality, serving its campaign of disinformation…
According to Mr. Peres and his boss, Palestinian journalists should also be jailed. Given Israel’s accusations of almost every Palestinian political group, in addition to the security forces, of being involved in “terrorism”, Peres is effectively calling for the imprisonment of the vast majority of the Palestinian society!
Meanwhile, on 3 June, the Israeli occupation forces conducted a failed assassination attempt against a Palestinian man in Jenin in the West Bank. Additionally, Israel cut off petrol and basic goods’ supplies to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. On 4 June, Israeli occupation soldiers conducted an incursion into a residential neighborhood in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, injuring 22 civilians in the process, four of them critically.
The fact remains that Israel is an occupying power, subjecting an entire People to humiliation, death, and destruction. What’s more, in the past eight months, Israel has coldly murdered over 500 Palestinians, 30% of whom are children, and injured more than 24,000.
It is natural for an occupying power to allege that it is facing a security problem, not an uprising of a People striving for their inalienable right to freedom and self-determination. By the same token, it is expected of an occupying power to commit war crimes and violate every human right imaginable while stating that it is dealing with “terrorists”, not an entire oppressed People. An occupying power will do whatever feasible to depict the People it occupies as a group of heartless and bloodthirsty terrorists who lack the moral fiber it has based on the actions of a group.
What is not natural is for the “free” world, which usually obsesses with human and political rights, to forget all these principles when it comes to addressing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories. It is unethical to address the oppression of a People by pressuring them to submit to such unacceptable treatment and equally blame them for committing “acts of terror”. What’s more, it’s abhorrent to ignore the real problem, i.e. Israeli occupation, and force onto the world a false treatment of a “ceasefire” without any political solution in sight. Such quick-fix cures of the symptoms are deadly.