By Marwan Barghouti
January 18, 2002
Barghouti is general secretary of Fatah on the West Bank and was
elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council.
RAMALLAH -- Israel's assassination of Fatah activist Raed Karmi on
Monday was predictable. Despite Israel's having killed more than 18
Palestinians since President Yasser Arafat's call for a cease-fire on
Dec. 18, there have been no Israeli civilian casualties during that
time. That, according to world governments and the international press,
constituted a "lull in the violence." But a lull in the violence is
exactly what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cannot afford. He was
elected in a time of crisis and knows that his rule is sustainable only
in a time of crisis. For his own political survival, he will do whatever
it takes, and look for any excuse, to stoke the flames of unrest and
avoid a return to peace negotiations.
Hence, more than 600 Palestinians, already refugees, were recently made
refugees yet again as Sharon's bulldozers razed their homes in Gaza. A
day later Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem were destroyed.
And then, just to ensure that Palestinians are sufficiently provoked and
the cycle of violence starts again, Israel assassinates Karmi.
Sharon justifies such barbaric and illegal measures in the name of
"security." But as someone often considered a candidate for Israeli
assassination myself, I can assure the Israeli people that neither my
assassination nor any of the other 82 assassinations during the past 15
months will bring them any closer to the security they seek and deserve.
The only way for Israelis to have security is, quite simply, to end the
35-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Israelis must
abandon the myth that it is possible to have peace and occupation at the
same time, that peaceful coexistence is possible between slave and
master. The lack of Israeli security is born of the lack of Palestinian
freedom. Israel will have security only after the end of occupation, not
Once Israel and the rest of the world understand this fundamental truth,
the way forward becomes clear: End the occupation, allow the
Palestinians to live in freedom and let the independent and equal
neighbors of Israel and Palestine negotiate a peaceful future with close
economic and cultural ties.
Let us not forget, we Palestinians have recognized Israel on 78 percent
of historic Palestine. It is Israel that refuses to acknowledge
Palestine's right to exist on the remaining 22 percent of land occupied
in 1967. And yet it is the Palestinians who are accused of not
compromising and of missing opportunities. Frankly, we are tired of
always taking the blame for Israeli intransigence when all we are
seeking is the implementation of international law.
And we have no faith in the United States, the provider of billions of
dollars in annual aid to fund Israel's expansion of illegal colonies,
the "fighter of terrorism" that supplies Israel with the F-16s and
helicopter gunships used against a defenseless civilian population, the
"defender of freedom and the oppressed" that coddles Sharon even as he
faces war crimes charges for his responsibility in the 1982 massacre of
Palestinian refugees. The role of the world's only superpower has been
reduced to that of a mere spectator with nothing to offer other than a
tired refrain of "Stop the violence" while doing nothing to address the
root causes of that violence: denial of Palestinian freedom.
Watch as the hapless Gen. Anthony Zinni focuses his efforts on
"violence" while Jewish settlers violate international law and even
American policy by moving into a new illegal colony in occupied East
Jerusalem. We Palestinians are not impressed.
Over the past 15 months, Israel has killed more than 900 Palestinian
civilians, 25 percent of them under the age of 18. And still the United
States has the audacity to veto a U.N. plan for an international
protection force to stop the onslaught.
So we will protect ourselves. If Israel reserves the right to bomb us
with F-16s and helicopter gunships, it should not be surprised when
Palestinians seek defensive weapons to bring those aircraft down. And
while I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose
attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future
neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli
occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom. If Palestinians
are expected to negotiate under occupation, then Israel must be expected
to negotiate as we resist that occupation.
I am not a terrorist, but neither am I a pacifist. I am simply a regular
guy from the Palestinian street advocating only what every other
oppressed person has advocated -- the right to help myself in the
absence of help from anywhere else.
This principle may well lead to my assassination. So let my position be
clear in order that my death not be lightly dismissed by the world as
just one more statistic in Israel's "war on terrorism." For six years I
languished as a political prisoner in an Israeli jail, where I was
tortured, where I hung blindfolded as an Israeli beat my genitals with a
stick. But since 1994, when I believed Israel was serious about ending
its occupation, I have been a tireless advocate of a peace based on
fairness and equality. I led delegations of Palestinians in meetings
with Israeli parliamentarians to promote mutual understanding and
cooperation. I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and
independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal
from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and a just resolution to
the plight of Palestinian refugees pursuant to U.N. resolutions. I do
not seek to destroy Israel but only to end its occupation of my country.
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