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February 16, 2002
Letter from Palestine

By Issa Sarras


Ramallah Feb 13, 2002

Clouds and rain. Lovely low clouds which hide plenty of things, including the mountains, the settlements and the tanks. For a moment you feel as if you are drinking your morning coffee on a piece of isolated, or liberated, dreamland where peace and harmony prevail. Some tunes from Mozart make the setting right.

More than one old man told me that this land will never rest. In fact, Palestinians have long lost faith in any effective action by the international community, to bring about a just solution, or even a semi-just one. This in no way means that they are ready to give up their rights, or lose hope.

Mr. Zahi tells me: "The USA and Europe love the Jews. Fine. Let them love the Jews as much as they wish. But can't they find a way to love them without sacrificing us in the process? Do they have to love them at our expense?".

I ask one of the Islamists: "Why don't you try non-violent resistance. In my view it is much more effective." He thunders: "Everyday we hold non-violent demonstrations. Is all what we do violence? But who is listening? If we do not defend ourselves we will be slaughtered while the world is looking. Nobody will lift a finger." Distrust and alienation have reached this deep.

Politicians do not seem to care how their actions affect the ordinary people's value systems. How can you convince people to uphold values, when governments break them at a large scale?

George Bush's "axis of evil" speech has tipped all the balances. The world was rudely awakened to a new operative standard of thought and action.

First, there is no "axis." North Korea, Iran and Iraq do not form an axis in whatever sense. As to "evil", it exists in every corner of this world; it is not restricted to certain corners.

The "axis of evil" term is oddly but directly related to us, as I will try to explain.

Not only the North Koreans, but the South Koreans were also angry. Their ongoing efforts for reconciliation with the North have been undermined. Not to mention America's own efforts, under the Clinton administration.

What is the real issue with the North Koreans? They have found a way to increase the range of missiles; well, not a lot, and using antiquated technology. They export these missiles to certain countries, possibly including Iran.

As to Iran and Iraq, who the whole world knows have nothing to do with Bin Laden or AlQaeda, have only one thing in common: Their strong condemnation of Israeli policies against the Palestinians.

So, by singling out these three countries, it seems that George Bush has adopted (for our region at least) an Israeli agenda.

The issue cannot be really the weapons of mass destruction, because there are other countries who have them or plan to produce them, even if you exclude Israel.

The pending joint military exercises in which American, Israeli and Turkish forces will participate, point to the emergence of another axis in fact. This new axis might include other countries in the future, like India and Taiwan and others.

Let's hope that this is not the real "axis of evil" which George Bush was talking about, and which he does not want us to notice.

America does not seem to be looking for solutions to the problem of terror. It is looking for scapegoats.

Europe is understandably concerned and angry. But Europe could have chosen better paths of wisdom before. More on this later.