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Israel Must Be Subjected To
A Global Rule Of Law

By Hanan Ashrawi

09 August, 2003

Whenever hard line Israelis and their American apologists decide to discredit and discount Palestinian suffering while exonerating the abuses and oppressive measures of the Israeli occupation, the first charge levied against Palestinian spokespersons is that of "whining."

How often have Palestinians seen Israeli and American officials alike sigh in obvious exasperation, roll their eyes in sheer ennui, and indulge in an obvious stage whisper: "The Palestinians are whining again."

Hence the people under occupation are not only supposed to "grin and bear it," but also made to feel guilty and undeserving for seeking to give voice to their suffering.

The opposite, however, is true of the Israeli occupation.

As Israeli tanks roll through Palestinian villages, towns, and refugee camps; as Apache gunships shell homes and assassinate their human targets; as Palestinian land is stolen and Israeli settlements are expanding; as Israeli prisons swell with abducted Palestinians and the apartheid wall turns all Palestinian areas into prisons and isolation cells; Sharon whines incessantly.

He pleads "self-defense" and runs to Washington with more demands: Iran after Iraq, Syria (and Libya, if possible) at any time, the Palestinian factions at all times, and more money, more settlements, more walls, more facts on the ground.

When Sharon complains of Palestinian violence ("terrorism"), it is presented as an act of will and gratuitous cruelty, entirely unprovoked and totally unrelated to the fact and brutal policies of the Israeli occupation.

When he addresses the requirements of the Roadmap, Israeli "security" becomes the sole objective and rationale of any initiative, while conditionality and forced sequencing are imposed on the Palestinians who are constantly on probation, constantly made to demonstrate "good behavior," and constantly denied as worthy of any form of "security" or even human consideration.

Yet nobody tells Sharon to "stop whining," and nobody rolls his/her eyes in exasperation and exclaims in disgust: "here we go again!"

On the contrary, even with the American presidency trying to maintain minimal compliance with the Roadmap, some "holier than thou" American voices rush to Israel and attempt to outdo Sharon and his extremists.

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

Armed with more zeal than common sense, with more messianic fervor than political wisdom, with more millenarianism than moral values, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay gallops to Israel on his high horse and threatens more fire and brimstone should any Israeli dare to contemplate pursuing the path of peace and reconciliation.

Heaven forbid! The only roadmap recognized by born-again Christians and other heirs to the absolute truth and divine dictates is the Old Testament (in particular the Book of Revelations and other apocalyptic texts).

Palestinians (be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheists, or agnostics) are dispensable since they stand in the way of the fulfillment of the prophecies.

Peace, however devoutly wished for or sought by both Israelis and Palestinians, is not to be condoned since it does not meet the requirements of Armageddon and other doomsday scenarios.

Such a spirit of generosity_a willingness to sacrifice the lives of countless Palestinians and Israelis for the sake of a unique brand of Christian fundamentalism_is one we can do without.

The most appropriate joint Palestinian-Israeli response to the fanaticism of DeLay and his ilk is in a greater commitment to a just peace and the requirements of inclusion and tolerance.

Palestine has always been a pluralistic land with a multiplicity of faiths and cultures and yet with an authenticity of identity that never denied the other.

The solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must emanate from a spirit of tolerance and sharing, not one of blind hatred and exclusion.

The doctrinal dictates of extremist evangelicals and their brand of apocalyptic solutions do not belong to the three monotheistic religions that saw the light in this part of the world.

Rampant Racism

Exclusion and a unique type of racism were recently exhibited by the Israeli Knesset in its mad drive to create a "Palestinian-free" society in Israel.

The Bill preventing Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens (mainly Arabs) from acquiring Israeli citizenship or permanent residency was passed by a majority of 53 votes to 25.

The tragic humanitarian consequences of such legislation would tear apart whole families and lead to tremendous hardships of displacement and loss of domicile.

More significantly, the mentality of racism and outright discrimination (the law does not apply to Israelis who marry non-Palestinians) is quite ominous for Israel as a state and for future relations between the two states: Israel and Palestine.

Along with the snaking path of the apartheid wall, the sinister plans of Effie Eitam, the Israeli minister of housing from the National Religious Party, to increase settlements in East Jerusalem and achieve a "demographic" shift in the occupied city complete the racist circle.

Had these phenomena taken place elsewhere, and had the "marriage bill" been passed by any other country to exclude a specific minority, the world would have been in an uproar.

It is time that Israel is treated like any other state, made subject to a global rule of law, and its actions scrutinized for such outrageous policies and practices.