Firas Al-Atraqchi: Cry Me A River, Why Don't You!
To Israel's Apologists - Cry Me A River
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
In recent weeks, the United Nations, the Presidency of the United States, the Arab nations and anyone who has the gall to call on Israel to end its brutal occupation of an entire people, have come under fire from several pro-Israeli apologists. Just check Natalia Zawidowski's unenlightened whining about United Nations Resolutions condemning Israel in the last 50 years - "The 'United Nations', United Against Whom?" http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0205/S00061.htm). Zawidowski tries to paint the picture of an impoverished and weakened Israel (in post-Holocaust Europe) facing the Arab sharks.
If it weren't for the United Nations in the first place, Israel would have no legal claims in the area. Never mind the colonial powers that carved up a distinctly Jewish country for Jews, by Jews, and of Jews. Never mind the Irgun terrorist activities in Jerusalem targeting Arabs and non-Arabs. Never mind that this new United Nations-sanctioned state was established on the ashes of ethnic cleansing, mass terrorism and genocide.
And they call it a democracy.
Zawidowski's drivel is not new, and hardly surprising. She argues that the international community should bugger off and let Israel be; let Israel use it's F-16s and advanced armour, Apache helicopters and the most professional army in the region. So professional that it must resort to Palestinian civilian human shields as it conducts house-to-house searches.
To support her argument, Zawidowski takes us down memory lane and revisits the horrors of World War II; the Nazis butchered 6 million Jews. Paragraph after paragraph, the reader (especially if of European descent) is made to feel some communal guilt of having either indirectly contributed to the Holocaust or having taken no steps to stop it. I don't see anyone raising their fists in the air for the millions of Cigani and Gypsies that were killed. Or the 21 million Russians that died during WWII.
This tactic of manipulative guilt is starting to wear real thin and quite frankly, has become annoyingly dullish.
Yes, 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Yes, this is a dark period of human history. Yes, this should never happen again. Yes, no people should be singled out for persecution and extermination because of their faith and ethnicity. Right, we all agree on that.
However, some would choose to disagree when it comes to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Zawidowski and her chorus of United States Congressmen believe that NO, this can and should happen again when it comes to the Palestinians. We have the inept decision by the illustrious U.S. Congress to blindly support Israeli policies in the Middle East. Does this also include support for the Likud party's recent vote to refuse ever allowing the establishing of a Palestinian state?
Some U.S. Congressmen, on their 'appreciation and pat-on-the-back' tours of Israel, have encouraged Israeli officials to resist U.S. Presidential pressure when it comes to negotiating with the Palestinians. Which government do these 'elected officials' serve?
Then we have House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) who told Chris Matthews on Hardball that he was perfectly willing to work with the Palestinians in helping them ethnically cleanse themselves from their own Palestinian lands to make room for illegal Israeli settlements.
In the aftermath of last week's suicide bombing at a gaming hall near Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon bulldozed his social commentary into our mindsets. The Israelis killed in the bombing were killed because they were Jews, he said. Not true, I say. They were killed not because they were Jews, but in retaliation for Israel's barbaric onslaught in Jenin and the West Bank. In retaliation for the bulldozing of civilians in their homes because the professionalism of Israel's advanced army does not have the courage and moral high ground to withstand a firefight. Bulldoze the lot and we won't have any military casualties, goes the train of thought.
They were killed because some disillusioned Palestinian saw his wife and children cut down by Israeli tank fire because the gunner got jittery when he heard a suspicious sound. They were killed in retaliation for the killing of pregnant Palestinian women at illegal Israeli military checkpoints. They were killed in retaliation for the Palestinian youths that surrendered to Palestinian troops only to have Israeli tanks pave a nice, smooth path over their disjointed carcasses. War brings casualties, the Israelis tell us. If that is true, then do not be surprised by Palestinian resolve to fight on and on until they carve a state out for themselves and break free of tyranny and oppression.
In late March, the entire Arab league, 22 Arab countries (yes, including Iraq and Libya), voted in favour of a Saudi-proposed peace initiative that would recognize Israel's unwavering right to exist, initiate full diplomatic relations with Israel and ensure its security in return for the recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The response was a suicide attack in Jerusalem and the invasion of the West Bank.
Two days ago, Egyptian President Mubarak, Syrian President Assad, and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah affirmed that they recognize Israel's right to exist and reiterated the Saudi peace initiative. Almost simultaneously, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres admitted that the 1993 Oslo Accords should have pushed for a speedier creation of a Palestinian state.
In return, the hard-line Israeli Likud Party yesterday voted, despite Sharon's desperate plea not to, to emphatically deny the creation of a Palestinian state. In London, two weeks ago, former PM Netanyahu chided the international community for wanting a Palestinian state, claiming that would be a reward for Arafat.
Two things are going on here. The first is the misinformation that this is a war against Jews. Incorrect. Jews live to this day in many Arab countries. They have not been killed. An Arab walking down the street does not target a Jew because he is a Jew. There is no racism, anti-Semitism, or prejudice here. There is, however, an outright, if not frustrated, opposition to Israeli policies in Palestine. Equating the two once again takes us down the guilt-driven hype of memory lane and WW II.
The second misinformation is that a Palestinian state will not bring security for Israel. In 1997, an independent Arab poll found that 86 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza supported Oslo and peace with their Jewish (cousins) neighbors. The Palestinians are tired. They gave up on calling for all of historic Palestine. They have resolved themselves to the understanding that Israel will continue to exist in the Middle East. Consequently, Palestinian leaders accepted Israel, accepted the 22 percent of historic Palestine they were promised, and looked forward to a peace deal that would see Palestinian statehood. Palestinians will not strike against Israel if they enjoy full, legitimate, and inalienable rights as equals, not the subjugated, to the citizens of the world.
So why does the Middle East continue to suffer this inconclusive conflict if the way to peace is already on the table?
The answers lie in the ruins of Jenin..
- Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian journalist living on the Pacific Coast