Peace in Palestine

Postdate: 13/ 01/ 2008

By Reverend Akuila Yabaki
Sunday, January 13, 2008 (Sunday Times Opinion Article)

I READ with considerable disbelief the headline “Bush seeks to save peace” in Israel (FT 10/1).

What is closer to the truth is the headline “US stands by Israel” (FT 6/12).

I visited Israel /Palestine in November 2007 and from visits to sites and through organised conferences and panel discussions, I have come to the belief that the other side of the story will need to be told.

Over the last 40 years, Israel has not been interested in peace on the basis of international law but on the basis of its own political objectives.

The 1967 UN resolution 242 specified that since Israel had illegally acquired territory through war, it must withdraw from all occupied territories.

With cleverly concocted justifications for its refusal to withdraw, Israel today stands in violation of over 60 UN General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions and the international community has failed to demand compliance.

In fact Israel and its many friends around the world have convinced many people, especially Western countries, that Palestinians are the guilty party rather than Israel.

That Israel is justified in its goal to establish a Jewish State and be accepted as a member of the international community is a forgone conclusion for them.

Clear evidence of international bias is the fact they failed to demand compliance of UN resolutions.

Israel’s major influence on the White House is blamed as the reason behind the “free-hand” given to Israel in dishing out the atrocities to Palestinians in the West Bank.

US veto in the UN Security Council makes the UN ineffective in dealing with Israel as a rogue state.

There is prediction that policies will change when the cost becomes too high and US leaders will then pin the blame on American anti-Semitism.

An international court of justice ruling on the apartheid wall condemned the wall and the occupied Palestinian lands. The 1976 Convention against Apartheid criminalises the actions of the Israeli Government but not those by the Israeli people.

Israel is not a member state of the UN for it is an apartheid state.

After the demise of South Africa, Israel is the only apartheid state still in existence through acts of parliament.

The fact there is a legal divide in Israel between Jews and non-Jews makes it a crime against humanity in international law.

Israel has very clear racist policies, for example, the laws preventing Muslims from entering the Hebron Mosque and the way in which water resources are taken to Israel from Bethlehem in a week, meaning there is no water left for Palestinians in the area this amounts to racial discrimination.

The demise of apartheid in South Africa was the outcome of humanitarian considerations informed by human rights.

Given the emphasis that is now given to human rights in international discourse, it is conceivable that the liberation of Palestine can be achieved within our life times.

While there are Palestinian NGOs, peace movements and some individual Jewish peace activists, there is no peace movement in Israel.

For instance, the “Peace Now” movement for Israel is only for the promotion of Zionist movements and the marginalisation of Palestinians.

There are many Israelis who do not join the army, and they amount to about 20 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women.

During my visit to Palestine in November 2007, we met Jack Halper a Jew and major activist against Israeli apartheid, who suggested that the battle against Israeli apartheid needed to come from abroad and not from Israel.

One method of battling against apartheid is the Intafada: which means you are sleeping and it’s time to rise up.

There have been two Intafada, the first in 1987 and the second in 2000.

They included boycott of Israeli goods, and refusal by Palestinians to carry ID cards for those 16 years of age and over.

Non-violent resistance has been based on the acceptance that militarily, Palestine cannot match Israel, although the second Intafada included some militarised resistance.

Land confiscation by bulldozer is being confronted through Palestinian resistance, but those participating have in turn, been confronted by bullets leading to the martyrdom of many.

Thousands have been wounded in protests; and children have been harmed in homes set on fire by Israelis.

In the face of this, the Israeli High Court permitted creation of buildings for settlers (these are immigrant Israelis largely from Russia and US), even though the Ballin court case, won by villagers themselves, had prohibited buildings by settlers.

Palestinians have been forcefully evicted by the Israeli army to make way for Israelis from overseas to establish their homes in the West Bank.

There is a lack of media coverage to assist in mobilising Palestinian resistance.

In relation to activities that can end apartheid, a three point strategy is important:

  • Palestinians need to keep on protesting;
  • Israeli resistance from individuals is important, and
  • International level of media coverage is needed to co-ordinate the two.

At the heart of the problem is the silence by the international community in denouncing Israel’s aggression against Palestinians.

The author is the chief executive officer of the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum…

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