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Is the Ball Really in Arafat’s .. Basement?

by Ramzy Baroud

Palestine Chronicle 23 September/ septembre 2002.
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM),  globalresearch.ca ,   24  September/ septembre 2002

Only someone who relies on the New York Times or CNN, admires the opinion of columnists such as Thomas Friedman, and finds the official statements of Israeli government spokespersons convincing, would find a direct relationship between bombings in Israel and keeping Palestinian President Yasser Arafat “isolated”.

Those who have the will or power to fight off the official, and non-official Israeli propaganda which is bombarding the world, but mostly the United States, must immediately realize the obvious fallacy in the Israeli logic.

Arafat has no control over suicide bombings in Israel. Period. The man spends most of his time fighting American pressure for reforms that are only designed to suit Israel’s interests, and internal pressure of Palestinians fed up with corruption, meaningless talk about “returning to the negotiation table” and “peace process” whose terms are only dictated by Israel, and an occasional siege of his headquarters.

On the other hand, Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is well aware of the mechanism to trigger Palestinian attacks, and he has no hesitation to employ such a mechanism.

New York Times and other leading American and Western publications commented with regret on how two recent Palestinian suicide bombings, which left a total of seven Israelis dead, have destroyed a six weeks of quiet, how the Israelis are now once again afraid to attend busy events or walk in crowded streets. True.

But these same publications, which also reflect a wider official perspective in their countries have failed to take a look at the Palestinian death toll during these same “six weeks of quiet.” 71 Palestinians, to be exact, were killed at the hands of Israeli troops since 1 August until a bombing in Umm el-Fahim ended the “quiet.” Eleven of those killed, according to the Palestine Monitor, citing medical sources, were children. And as always, most of the deaths were civilians.

Also true, the West Bank was somewhat “quiet” during these six weeks, as nearly two million Palestinians were either kept in their homes under strict military curfew, or cut off from the outside world by barbered wire, Israeli armored vehicles and soldiers always willing to shoot, even before a justification is found.

The suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, although tragic, was imminent. It is resolved, as far as those courageous enough to reject the Israeli media propaganda, that blowing up oneself is a desperate act, although unfortunate, that cannot be judged separate from a larger political context, a context in which Palestinians are often the greater victim. 1,800 Palestinians were killed during the last two years compared to 600 Israelis, according to Agency France Press. It‘s Palestinian territories that are occupied and violated by Israeli forces and Jewish militants (settlers), not Israel. While Israelis in Tel Aviv find it displeasuring avoiding crowded places, all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are held hostage, also to an enemy that makes no distinction between a civilian and a fighter, an enemy that holds no regard for the “customs of war,” and little respect for international law.

So what is it exactly that Sharon hopes to achieve by attacking and demolishing the headquarters of the Palestinian President in Ramallah, of besieging and humiliating Arafat, of widening his military “operations” in the West Bank and Gaza?

Its rather insulting to human intelligence to suggest that Arafat, following the almost complete destruction of his National Authority and the restriction on his movement, to the point that he is once again in an office basement surrounded by Israeli soldiers, can in fact “guarantee Israel’s security.”

Its even more insulting to make such exclamations that the man needs to condemn violence, (which he did many times to the extend that he repeatedly ordered his police force not to fire on Israeli soldiers, even if they are being fired upon,) at radio, television, newspapers, in Arabic, English .. etc, as a way to stop the Palestinian uprising (Intifada).

And now the Israeli government, including such ‘moderates’ as foreign minister Shimon Peres are telling us that Israel, doesn’t intend on harming the Palestinian President physically, but simply “isolating” him.

So, further insults, humiliation, brutality and more killings of innocent people remain the only answer that the Israeli government has, although such an inhumane formula was what provoked the Palestinian uprising in the first place.

Sharon has no other tactics left to deal with the Palestinians. He might be a tough military man, but he is a coward politician. He is afraid to admit that violence, even his most extreme version of violence, is unqualified to suppress a brutalized nation’s quest for freedom.

The best way to avoid answering a question, is by posing another. The question in many people’s minds, especially Israelis, was; if the might of the Israeli army and police force, siege, curfews, assassinations and arrests have failed to halt bombings, what else can the military genius of Sharon come up with now?

Of course, to truly confront the question, the Israeli government must resolve that an end to the military occupation is what Palestinians have fought for. But since Sharon and his cronies with a dark-age reasoning, are in no mood to deal with such a reality, the best answer is to defer the attention from the question altogether by attacking Arafat’s headquarters, besieging the man and holding him responsible for Sharon’s policies and unanswered questions.

It worked in the past, why shouldn’t it work now?

 


Ramzy Baroud is the editor of Palestine Chronicle and a frequent CRG Contributor  Copyright  Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 2002,  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .

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