There are few words that I can add to the pictures emerging from Gaza and Jenin that you have not already had the chance to see in mainstream media.
Below I pass two articles, one from an Israeli Parliamentarian (this is a different person from the new Israeli cabinet member, Avigdor Lieberman, who is a known fascist), the second article is from a Palestinian Parliamentarian (one that is not yet imprisoned and being held hostage by Israel). You tell me, which one would you believe?
The colossal failure of diplomacy in this issue will haunt the world for generations to come.
Mourning Gaza (AGAIN),
Morning Jenin (AGAIN),
Morning the deafening global silence (AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN),
Last update - 23:11 06/11/2006
Let them move to Bulgaria. They're wanted there
By Gideon Alon
There is a huge gap between MK Benny Elon's pleasant personality and his extremist political views. Elon, the son of former of Supreme Court vice president Menahem Elon, is not belligerent, nor does he coarsely attack his political rivals. He speaks softly, even when he is spelling out his somewhat delusionary plan for the voluntary transfer of the Palestinians in the territories.
Elon, 52, is a politician of a different stripe. He does not pursue journalists, nor is he constantly distributing press releases. Although he heads the National Union-National Religious Party (NU-NRP) list, he does not feel like the leader of the party. "I don't feel that I received a mandate to lead the NU-NRP," he says. "Not like Avigdor Lieberman in Yisrael Beiteinu or Eli Yishai in Shas."
At the beginning of the year, a short time before the elections to the 17th Knesset, Elon fell ill with throat cancer. He successfully underwent an operation to remove the tumor in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. For three months he had daily radiation treatments at the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. "I'm under supervision, but today I'm healthy, thank God," he says, thanking the "angels" who took care of him at Hadassah.
Lieberman, the populist
Were you surprised by Avigdor Lieberman's decision to join the government?
Elon: "No. Lieberman is moving toward the center. Lieberman is ready for the establishment of a Palestinian state. In my opinion, his proposal that the border be drawn at Karkur and that Umm al-Fahm be part of the Palestinian state is populist and irresponsible. But his moving toward the center is not ideological. In the past as well, on genuine issues, he did not demonstrate consistency. On the eve of the elections he said he was willing to leave his home in [the settlement] Nokdim."
Will he remain in the government for only a short period of time?
"Lieberman joined the government under the assumption that by the force of his personality, he will be able to effect change. He mistakenly thinks that the job the government offered him is an executive one. He will soon discover his mistake, because he will not be able to operate in the strategic arena. His membership in the government will not last long."
Do you support his proposal to copy the Cyprus model in Israel and separate between Jews and Arabs living in Israel?
"The proposal is populist and unrealistic. It was designed to placate the Jewish public, who according to surveys are more annoyed by the Israeli Arabs than by the Arabs in the territories. I don't think that the Israeli Arabs are the root of the problem. They're only a minority, after all. During the first stage, we have to solve the relations between us and the Palestinians, and only afterward to deal with relations with the Israeli Arabs."
Why have people who in the past were out-and-out rightists, such as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Lieberman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, moderated their positions?
"My sad conclusion is that the secular right, which does not have a backbone based on faith, has apparently become bankrupt. The Tehiya movement did not pass the threshold for a Knesset seat, Tzomet fell apart, Arik Sharon and the hard core of the Likud moved toward the center, and now Lieberman as well. Gandhi [Rehavam Ze'evi] was maybe the last of the giants among the secular rightists. Where is the non-skullcap-wearing public at demonstrations of the right? Where is their dedication? There are some like MK Aryeh Eldad, but I don't know if they have even one Knesset seat today among the public."
At the Knesset session marking the fifth anniversary of the assassination of minister Rehavam Ze'evi, you said, "The demographic problem will not solve itself. It's not too late to study the Gandhi legacy." Do you still believe in the idea of transfer?
"Yes. Gandhi never spoke of transfer by coercion, only voluntary transfer. We can eliminate the Palestinian refugee camps in the territories by giving $100,000 to each family that agrees to emigrate to another country. If 1 million Palestinian families accept the proposal, which costs about $100 billion, we will solve the demographic problem."
Where will you find $100 billion?
"Every year Israel receives foreign aid from the United States totaling $3 billion. If we take the aid money and put it aside for 20 years, we will have $60 billion. If we add to that money from American and European foundations, which streams in to us, we can reach $100 billion."
Do you really believe that for $100,000 you will succeed in convincing Palestinian families to leave their homes?
"Definitely. I've checked it out. There are many countries, such as Bulgaria and Bosnia, that are willing to take them in. When a family with $100,000 arrives there, it is wanted, and will be really wealthy. Today in Gaza, families are living in hell. They have to be encouraged to leave."
How will you encourage them? They will justly claim that this is their home. Their connection to the land is stronger than ours.
"We put that into our own heads and brainwashed ourselves. I have a list of dozens of Arab families from East Jerusalem from whom we bought houses and who emigrated to South America, to Honduras and other countries. Do you know how many Arabs live in America and in Europe?"
How will you behave toward Palestinians who don't want to leave?
"With great respect. All those who are not refugees and who have homes of their own will be Jordanian citizens. They will live here, but they will vote for the Parliament in Amman. We won't interfere in religious matters, education and culture, and they will be the bridge to peace. The Palestinian Authority will be dismantled and no Palestinian state will be established between Israel and Jordan, because such a state without territorial contiguity between Gaza and Judea and Samaria will not be able to exist."
What about the Israeli Arabs?
"The Israeli Arabs who want to be Israeli citizens, with all the rights and obligations, will be required to perform national service. They will be able to remain here, but they will also have an option of being Jordanian citizens."
Many will claim that that is a racist proposal.
"In what way is it racist? Why do they want to perpetuate bloodshed? Why don't they understand that we don't have another Jewish state, while on the other hand, there are many Arab countries. The Palestinians don't want only the establishment of a Palestinian state, they don't want Israel to exist. My political plan is a means of carrying out my war of survival."
A critical year
According to a survey, 30 percent of the public believes that Yitzhak Rabin's assassin Yigal Amir should be pardoned. What is your opinion?
"Those findings are shocking. They point to a huge educational failure. I also get around to schools and hear such statements by students. When the left did not allow the right to join in internalizing the significance of this murder, it led foolish people on the right to think it's the left's problem. Murder is not the left's problem. The assassination of Rabin was a watershed, red with blood, for the State of Israel, which almost destroyed it."
Aren't you afraid that a few years from now a president here will pardon Amir?
"I'm against a pardon for Yigal Amir, and I believe that no president would do such a thing. The talk of a pardon is dangerous, because it shows the young people on the right that it's not a terrible deed. In my meetings with young people in the schools I tell them: "We hate this murderer and we will make sure that he remains in prison. If there is anyone among you who is considering doing such deeds, he should know that he will be hated by all of us.
"It worries me that there are children growing up today who think that the problem may be one between the left and the right. I am calling on people on the left: Be careful of what you say. The legacy that you want to perpetuate is not the legacy of Rabin, which is no more important than the legacy of [second prime minister] Moshe Sharett. To me the legacy of the Rabin assassination is more important."
How should Israel deal with the threat by the Iranian president to destroy Israel?
"The coming year is critical, and therefore Ehud Olmert should have formed a national emergency government, but he preferred to bring only Lieberman into his government. Olmert will be afraid to carry out daring actions against Iran to prevent the completion of the nuclear reactor, unless there is a broad consensus as to the necessity of doing so."
Israel's policy was not to position itself at the head of the struggle against Iran. Are you proposing that we be the leader in this struggle?
"The moment that the Iranian president declared that his goal was to wipe Israel off the map, it would have been irresponsible to ignore the new Hitler and say he was joking. We have the moral obligation to be the first to warn the world and to tell everyone: You cannot agree to allow the head of a country, which is a member of the UN, to threaten to destroy another country. If there is any chance of preventing the creation of the atom bomb by diplomatic means, it is preferable that empires such as the U.S. do so. The question is what happens if the U.S. does not succeed in preventing the creation of the nuclear bomb by diplomatic means?
Should we treat Ahmadinejad's threats will complete seriousness?
"Certainly. We must understand that hatred for Israel changes form. The greatest danger is to think it will once again assume the same form as in the past. This time it will appear without Wagnerian music or a Christian background; it will have a Muslim background. The public in Israel does not understand that there are millions who are raised from infancy on 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and on hatred for the Jews. That makes the issue of land for peace pathetic and turns the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a dark and unimportant alley."
We overcame our fear
The unarmed women of the Gaza Strip have taken the lead in resisting Israel's latest bloody assault
Jameela al-Shanti in Beit Hanoun
Thursday November 9, 2006
Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week. This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.
It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.
We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.
Later an Israeli plane shelled a bus taking children to a kindergarten. Two children were killed, along with their teacher. In the last week 30 children have died. As I go round the crowded hospital, it is deeply poignant to see the large number of small bodies with their scars and amputated limbs. We clutch our children tightly when we go to sleep, vainly hoping that we can shield them from Israel's tanks and warplanes.
But as though this occupation and collective punishment were not enough, we Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us. Nothing undermines the west's claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine. Shortly after announcing his project to democratise the Middle East, President Bush did all he could to strangle our nascent democracy, arresting our ministers and MPs. I have yet to hear western condemnation that I, an elected MP, have had my home demolished and relatives killed by Israel's bombs. When the bodies of my friends and colleagues were torn apart there was not one word from those who claim to be defenders of women's rights on Capitol Hill and in 10 Downing Street.
Why should we Palestinians have to accept the theft of our land, the ethnic cleansing of our people, incarcerated in forsaken refugee camps, and the denial of our most basic human rights, without protesting and resisting?
The lesson the world should learn from Beit Hanoun last week is that Palestinians will never relinquish our land, towns and villages. We will not surrender our legitimate rights for a piece of bread or handful of rice. The women of Palestine will resist this monstrous occupation imposed on us at gunpoint, siege and starvation. Our rights and those of future generations are not open for negotiation.
Whoever wants peace in Palestine and the region must direct their words and sanctions to the occupier, not the occupied, the aggressor not the victim. The truth is that the solution lies with Israel, its army and allies - not with Palestine's women and children.
· Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas. She led a women's protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday
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