Only three days have passed following US Secretary of State Colin Powell's
Middle East policy remarks at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center
for Political Leadership in Kentucky. Following Secretary Powell's tribute to
a key member in the audience, Kentucky's Republican Senator Mitch
McConnell, one of the fiercest opponents of the PLO and the Oslo Peace
agreements, who together with Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein,
published AIPAC's (the Israeli political lobby in the US) most recent initiative
against the Palestinian Authority (Ha'aretz 22/11/2001), Secretary Powell
"The overwhelming majority of Palestinians [...] have seen their schools
shuttered and their parents humiliated. Palestinians need security as well.
Too many innocent Palestinians, including children, have been killed and
wounded. This, too, must stop."
Today, a 16-yr.-old boy was killed by Israeli troops while attending the funeral
of five 6-14-yr.-old Palestinian schoolchildren that were instantly shredded to
pieces yesterday by an Israeli bobby trapped mine planted near their school!
Also today, three Palestinians in Nablus were killed when an Israeli
helicopter fired a missile on their car, their bodies were charred beyond
recognition. Two days ago, a 56-year-old Palestinian heart patient died after
his ambulance was held at an Israeli checkpoint and refused permission to
proceed to a hospital. The Israeli occupation forces in Gaza demolished the
same day 18 Palestinian homes and entered the Palestinian City of Birzeit
and detained five Palestinians. These actions are added to the, to numerous
to mention, indignities that the illegal Israeli occupation causes to
Palestinians, indignities that the best of media cameramen cannot capture.
Today, Secretary Powell's words seem equivalent to that of a policeman
walking past a rape victim, still pinned under her assailant, and verbally
scolding both parties by advising them to work out their differences.
Nevertheless, America has spoken. Israeli occupation must end.
Palestinians have a legitimate right to self-determination. All have a right to
live in security.
The current Israeli government led by internationally accused war criminal,
Ariel Sharon, and politically cushioned by the Foreign Minister media wizard,
Shimon Peres, have proved their incompetency or unwillingness to rein Israel
in from the cold. Israel adds to its shame every day that it continues its
criminal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The
Israeli economy is failing, and will continue to due so, as long as regional
instability continues. A steady stream of Israeli soldiers killing Palestinian
children is tearing the Israeli moral fabric beyond repair. If Israel is a real
democracy this is the time for its people to act.
Israelis have a choice.
Remain silent and watch a people that have endured 34 years of occupation,
coupled with one steady year of being bombed and locked up like a pressure
cooker, explode while Israeli leaders explain that what is needed is 100%
quiet to quell the situation.
Or, Israelis can take back Israel, for the sake of Israel. Israel can
begin to make right their 50 years of historic injustice against Palestinians.
Israel can end occupation tomorrow and return to the negotiation table
stronger than ever before. Israel can take its citizens out of dangers way and
avoid putting its teenagers in a situation where they can fire upon innocent
Occupation will end because it always has. This is a fact. Israel would be
doing itself a monumental favor by ending the occupation on its own terms,
rather than withdrawing due to additional international pressure.
As the pressure cooker prepares to explode, national egos need to be set
aside. The time to end occupation is now; otherwise, Secretary Powell's
words will become an extended license to kill for Ariel Sharon and gang.
November 23, 2001
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living in the besieged Palestinian City
of Al-Bireh in the West Bank and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.