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Durban address by Hanan Ashrawi

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  • DianeBalay@aol.com
    Address by Hanan Ashrawi in Durban, South Africa on August 28, 2001 Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 06:48:55 -0400 From: Rezeq Faraj To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2001
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      Address by Hanan Ashrawi in Durban, South Africa on
      August 28, 2001
      Date:
      Fri, 31 Aug 2001 06:48:55 -0400
      From:
      "Rezeq Faraj" <rezeqfaraj@...>
      To:
      "Women in Black" <rezeqfaraj@...>




      World should intervene to end the Israeli Apartheid
      (Address by Hanan Ashrawi in Durban, South Africa,
      on August 28, 2001)


      by Hanan Ashrawi

      Sisters and Brothers,

      >From Jerusalem, from the heart of Palestine, a land besieged, and
      repeatedly
      violated by a most brutal Israeli military occupation, I have come to
      join
      you today. From the midst of the people of Palestine, a tortured nation,

      guilty only of an unwavering commitment to freedom, dignity, and
      independence, I have come to join you today. From the depths of
      unredeemed
      history, I have come to join you today. I represent a narrative of
      exclusion, denial, racism, and national victimization, but I also come
      with
      a message of hope, redemption, and historical vindication embodied in
      the
      spirit and the will of a people that has refused to succumb to all
      forces of
      oppression, violence, cruelty, and injustice.

      In convening this conference, you are the authentic embodiment of
      courage in
      withstanding the forces of domination, subjugation, and enslavement.

      We stand together today to launch a truly global mission of empowerment
      and
      solidarity, to give voice to the "silenced," to give a reality to the
      "invisible," to give recognition to the "denied," and to give credence
      to
      the victimized.

      In times of adversity, and during the darkest nights of the soul, we
      look to
      you for affirmation and action as an antidote to the failure of
      established
      power systems, including governments - a failure characterized by
      self-interest, power politics, absence of will, and impotence. I take
      this
      opportunity to recognize before you those valiant men and women who had
      left
      the comfort of their homes in Europe and the US and joined us in
      Palestine
      to provide popular protection, a "human shield" in the face of Israeli
      abuses, violence, and violations against the Palestinian people.

      I come to you today with a heavy heart leaving behind a nation in
      captivity
      held hostage to an ongoing "Nakba" [catastrophe], as the most intricate
      and
      pervasive expression of persistent colonialism, apartheid, racism, and
      victimization.

      More than half a century ago [53 years], the Palestinians as a people
      were
      slated for national obliteration, cast outside the course of history,
      their
      identity denied, and their very human cultural and historical reality
      suppressed. We became victims of the myth of "a land without a people
      for
      people without a land" whereby the West sought to assuage its guilt over
      its
      horrendous anti-Semitism by the total victimization of a whole nation.
      Zionism sought to implement its agenda of exclusivity by usurping not
      only
      the lands and rights of the Palestinians, but also by confiscating their

      utterance and distorting their historical narrative.

      In 1948, we became subject to a grave historical injustice manifested in
      a
      dual victimization: on the one hand, the injustice of dispossession,
      dispersion, and exile forcibly enacted on the population that has come
      to be
      known as the "refugee question" that currently encompasses more than 5
      million Palestinians. On the other hand, those that remained were
      subject to
      the systematic oppression and brutality of an inhuman occupation that
      robbed
      them of all their rights and liberties including their national identity
      on
      their own land.

      The creation of the state of Israel was no heroic and legendary
      accomplishment as depicted by the version of history propagated by the
      conquerors. It is time to lift the veil, to examine the facts
      themselves,
      and to come to grips with the horrific price paid by an innocent nation
      for
      the mere fact of its existence as well as for the greed and moral
      blindness
      of others. The days of denial must come to an end. The Palestinian
      people
      deserve their day in the sun as an equal among nations, and as a tribute
      to
      the human will that cannot be broken.

      As a Palestinian, as a woman, and on behalf of my people, I stand before
      you
      today to lay claim to my/to our humanity. From the non-existent
      Palestinians
      ("there is not such thing as Palestinians; they never existed" (Golda
      Meir,
      1969) we have undergone a metamorphosis willfully inflicted upon us by
      Israeli-imposed diction and policies that have variously depicted us as
      "two-legged vermin," "cockroaches," "beasts walking on two legs," a
      people
      that have to be exterminated unless they are "resigned to live as
      slaves,"
      "grasshoppers to be crushed," "crocodiles," and "vipers." [A
      comprehensive
      list with representative samples is available]

      Such a systematic and racist dehumanization was also accompanied by
      policies
      of violent expulsion. "There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs
      from
      here to neighboring countries, not one village, not one tribe should be
      left" (Joseph Weitz, 1940).

      "There is no choice: the Arabs must make room for the Jews in Eretz
      Yisrael.
      If it was possible to transfer the Baltic peoples, it is also possible
      to
      move the Palestinian Arabs" (Vladimir Jabotinsky, 1939).

      "Zionist colonization must either be terminated or carried out against
      the
      wishes of the native population.. It is important to speak Hebrew, but
      it is
      even more important to be able to shoot - or else I am through at
      playing
      with colonizing" (Vladimir Jabotinsky, 1939).

      "We must do everything to insure they never return. The old will die and
      the
      young will forget." However, for those that remained in spite of all of
      Israel's military coercion and attempts at forced expulsion, other (and
      equally sinister) plans were in the making: "We shall reduce the Arab
      population to a community of woodcutters and waiters." (David Ben
      Gurion).

      To the rest of the world, we were reduced to the Aristotelian dualism of

      pity and fear - the pitiful refugees, of the fearful "terrorists." But
      never
      were we perceived or addressed in the fullness of our humanity.

      The Palestinians today continue to be subject to multiple forms and
      expressions of racism, exclusion, oppression, colonialism, apartheid,
      and
      national denial. Our right to self-determination, hence sovereignty and
      statehood, has been withheld by force and made subject to the approval
      of
      our oppressor. The refugee populations, mostly "stateless people," are
      bereft of the rudimentary civil, human, political, and national rights,
      left
      at the mercy of host countries that view them either as a demographic
      threat, or as unwelcome guests. While Israel has legislated a "law of
      return" to bring in Jews from all over the world into historical
      Palestine,
      it persists in rejecting the Palestinian refugees' "Right of Return" and
      in
      refusing to abide by UN res. 194, a legal commitment which the
      international
      community was supposed to guarantee and implement.

      The Palestinians who remained in what has become Israel are experiencing
      in
      their historical homeland the worst system of apartheid, exclusion, and
      racial discrimination--their towns and cities either taken over
      entirely, or
      turned into ghettos and enclaves as the "non-Jewish" population of
      Israel.
      Many continue to be "displaced persons" in their own land, witnesses to
      the
      destruction of their villages. Over 500 villages were razed in the
      original
      ethnic cleansing campaign that accompanied the creation of the state of
      Israel. Those of us who came under Israeli occupation in 1967 have
      languished in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip under a unique

      combination of military occupation, settler colonization, and systematic

      oppression.

      Rarely has the human mind devised such varied, diverse, and
      comprehensive
      means of wholesale brutalization and persecution. Since 1967,
      Palestinian
      land has been expropriated at an increasing pace, while whole Jewish
      populations have been brought in, in a calculated scheme of settler
      colonization. Throughout the land, an artificial and colonial grid of
      infrastructure was superimposed on our authentic reality to create a
      spurious settler superstructure as a means of Israeli demographic,
      geographic, and extraterritorial incursions into Palestine.

      So-called "bypass roads" for the exclusive use of the illegal Jewish
      settler
      population, tear through the heart of Palestinian land, to bypass
      Palestinian realities and create a unique form of racism. In the
      meantime,
      settler vigilantes habitually unleash the full force of their extremism
      and
      violence, carrying out campaigns of terror against defenseless
      Palestinian
      families and villages. Israel's state terrorism is implemented by both
      military and settler perpetrators with political duplicity and legal
      impunity.

      Another unique manifestation of Israeli racism is the blatant and
      sinister
      policy of "demographic engineering." To maintain the "Jewish character,"
      or
      the "purity" of the state of Israel, the Palestinians have been depicted
      and
      dealt with as a "demographic threat." Proposed "remedies" included calls
      for
      forced birth control and "population management," to "transfer" and
      expulsion of whole communities, to the racist and punitive unilateral
      "separation" scheme currently being advocated.

      In Jerusalem, land expropriation, ID confiscations, home demolitions,
      withholding of building permits, and the importation of settler colonies

      within and around the city have become constant elements of Israel's
      demographic engineering through ethnic cleansing.

      Jerusalem is also under siege in an attempt to isolate it from its
      Palestinian context and environment, and to extricate it from the heart
      of
      Palestine, as the center of political, cultural, economic, social, and
      educational activity and as the future capital of our state. Such
      Israeli
      unilateral measures seek to consolidate Israel's illegal annexation of
      occupied Jerusalem, and to impose a Jewish exclusivity on a Palestinian
      city
      that has always been pluralistic and tolerant. Onslaughts on Christian
      and
      Islamic holy sites and activities while banning Palestinian worshipers
      from
      reaching their holy places of worship betray a willful policy of
      intolerance
      and a violation of the right and freedom to worship.

      A state of siege has been imposed not only on the West Bank and Gaza,
      but
      also within these territories, to transform each village, town, and city

      into an isolated prison thereby destroying every aspect of human life,
      including economic, educational, health, and social cohesiveness in an
      attempt to sever every fiber of the fabric of normal life. Israeli
      occupation troops using tanks, helicopter gunships, F-16s, military
      barges,
      and checkpoints not only render a whole Palestinian population captive
      in 64
      isolated bantustans, they also use the full force of their military
      power
      against a vulnerable and defenseless people. Daily, they shell
      Palestinian
      homes, assassinate Palestinian activists and leaders, destroy crops and
      fields, indulge in cold-blooded murder of children and other innocents
      while
      implementing a policy of deliberate humiliation and suffocation at every

      checkpoint.

      The Israeli occupation has also hijacked the concept of "security"
      rendering
      it applicable only to Israelis while depriving the Palestinians of every

      aspect of personal, political, legal, territorial, historical, cultural,

      economic, and even human security. As a blanket cover for its systematic

      abuses, Israel has also abused the essence of the concept, exploiting it
      for
      the sake of eradicating any mention of the occupation, and claiming the
      illogical "right" to have a "secure"-or even a safe and
      pleasant-military
      occupation that is in itself the very antithesis of peace, security, and

      human rights.

      As the world watches, Israel has succeeded in evolving and imposing
      another
      grand deception in the form of an official spin that not only
      dehumanizes
      and demonizes the Palestinians, but also as an attempt at "blaming the
      victim" and resuscitating labels that represent us as subhuman species,
      and
      genetically violent "terrorists," hence undeserving of any human
      treatment.
      At best, a false symmetry is manufactured between occupier and occupied,

      oppressor and oppressed, (as in the call on both sides to "stop the
      violence") serving to eradicate the full horror of the occupation while
      depriving the victims of their right to resist. Given the disequilibrium
      of
      power, the American insistence on a "bilateral solution" only serves to
      give
      Israel license to exploit the asymmetry of power and to pursue its
      policies
      of subjugating a whole nation and imposing a unilateral and unjust
      solution.

      The Israeli solution is firmly imbedded in the tainted mentality of
      occupation as license to dictate by force of arms illegal and punitive
      realities that would further exacerbate the conflict and the suffering
      of
      the Palestinian people. Refusal to intervene by the US and the
      international
      community as a whole has given Israel a free hand to continue to act
      with
      impunity and immunity as a country above the law and beyond
      accountability,
      while the Palestinians continue to be deprived of protection of the law
      and
      the minimal imperatives of moral and human decency. We continue to plead
      for
      a global rule of law that would check the aggression of the powerful,
      and
      eliminate the ongoing dehumanization of the Palestinian people. Such
      absence
      of will and abrogation of responsibility on the part of the
      international
      community has not only perpetuated the "Nakba" and prolonged the
      suffering
      and victimization of the Palestinian people, but has also served to
      undermine the quest and chances for peace throughout the region.

      When we joined the peace process launched in Madrid in 1991, we did so
      as an
      act of will, as a commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict
      with
      the aim of ending the occupation of 22% of historical Palestine and the
      establishment of our independent state on the territory occupied by
      Israel
      in 1967. As victims, we rose above the pain of the moment and reached
      out to
      our occupiers to wrench the course of history away from inevitable
      conflict,
      towards reconciliation based on justice and parity. Buttressed by the
      confidence of the people's will to endure and resist oppression, as
      manifested in the intifada of 1987, we offered Israel and the world a
      unique
      opportunity to legitimize a daring pursuit of peace, and to gain a
      constituency for an equitable resolution.

      Unfortunately, the peace process became a punitive process manipulated
      by
      Israel to pursue its policies of expansion, ethnic cleansing,
      colonialism,
      and subjugation of the weaker side by force. It further served as a
      guise to
      rationalize the separation of the people from the land and to fragment
      both
      the people and the land, transforming the occupied Palestinian
      territories
      into a series of isolated reservations or Bantustans while maintaining
      full
      Israeli hegemony and direct control. While seeking to bestow retroactive

      legitimacy on illegal Israeli settlements, and on Israel's annexation of

      Jerusalem by force, it also sought to negate the Palestinian refugees'
      right
      of return thereby denying the very essence of peace and destroying its
      foundations.

      The so-called "generous offer" of Barak has been exposed for the sham
      that
      it is - an occupier's version of "what's good for the natives," based
      only
      on "what's good for Israel," thus ensuring further conflict and
      instability
      rather than cementing a fair and durable solution. Having been
      historically
      the victims of war and conflict, we found ourselves the victims of a
      flawed
      and unjust peace process.

      Sharon's incursion into the Haram Al-Sharif on September 28, 2000, was
      only
      the calculated spark that ignited a powder keg already in place as a
      result
      of the inequities of the process itself. The use of live ammunition and
      "lethal force" against the unarmed Palestinian protestors unleashed
      horrific
      forces of hostility, racism, and orchestrated violence against the
      captive
      Palestinian people. The continued intensification of these measures
      sends an
      ominous and stark message of brutality and is symptomatic of the
      regression
      to fundamentalist Zionism witnessed in the bloodbaths of the 1940's. By
      claiming that "this is the continuation of Israel's War of
      Independence,"
      Sharon is sending a message to the Palestinian people and to the whole
      world
      that the national eradication and the ethnic cleansing of the 1948
      "Nakba"
      are still in process.

      The current Israeli government represents the most lethal combination of

      extremist right-wing political ideology, religious fundamentalism and
      zealotry, and unbridled forces of militarism with a deceptive veneer of
      "the
      civilized face" of the Labor party. Sharon is the same army general who
      had
      committed crimes against humanity in such atrocities as the Qibya
      massacre
      of 1953, the "cleansing of Gaza" in 1973, the invasion of Lebanon and
      the
      massacres of Sabra and Shatilla of 1982. Intent on pursuing this bloody
      path
      and on repeating the mistakes of history, Sharon has not learned that no

      amount of brutality, cruelty, or violence can break the will of a people

      determined to gain its freedom, dignity, and independence. He shows no
      signs
      of drawing the right historical conclusions that colonialism is by
      nature a
      temporary form of enslavement, and that a people colonized cannot be
      brought
      to their knees by the colonizer's stifling measures of subjugation and
      containment.

      Sisters and brothers, I appeal to you today, to restore the absent
      Palestinians to the agenda of humanity, to validate our reality and
      rights,
      to recognize and alleviate the pain and suffering of this tortured
      nation,
      and to give recognition to the Palestinian narrative long denied. You
      are
      the only source of empowerment for a people who feel abandoned and
      disempowered, but who have never lost faith in human solidarity and a
      shared
      vision of emancipation.

      I appeal to you, as I have often done to governments and global fora,
      not to
      adopt the stance of "cowardly neutrality," for in the struggle against
      oppression, injustice, racism, intolerance, colonialism, and exclusion,
      there can be NO neutrality. We are all called upon to take sides on
      behalf
      of the victim, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed, and to stem the
      tide
      of evil and prevent the forces of darkness from prevailing. Here, there
      is
      no US veto to deprive us of protection and our rights, nor is there
      censorship or blackmail to intimidate governments ruled by self-
      interest.

      Let this meeting radiate the pure light of the human spirit that can
      never
      be dimmed or contained. Our path to the future must be based on the
      redemption of history and the past, free of the shackles of inherited
      inequities. Our legacy to the future must be based on the rectification
      of
      the painful legacies of the past.

      Sisters and brothers, Never before has an occupation army imposed such a

      total and suffocating siege on a captive civilian population, then
      proceeded
      to shell their homes, bomb their infrastructure, assassinate their
      activists
      and leaders, destroy their crops and trees, murder their civilians at
      will,
      steal their lands, and then demand that they acquiesce like lambs to the

      slaughter. Never before have the victims been denied the right to
      articulate, and gain recognition for, the horrendous atrocities being
      committed against them as a matter of policy, but were rather blamed and

      punished for the fact of their victimization.

      The oft-repeated dictum that "Israel will not negotiate under fire"
      applies
      only to Palestinian "fire" or attempts at self-defense. While Israel
      must be
      left unhampered in its fire-shell-assassinate at will policy, the
      Palestinians must maintain "zero violence" leading to a "cooling off
      period"
      that would prepare the way for "confidence-building measures" and
      ultimately
      award the Palestinians the coveted "prize" of resuming negotiations with

      their occupiers.

      On behalf of the Palestinian people I appeal to you to have the courage
      to
      intervene, to ensure that the oppressor is held accountable and the
      victim
      is protected, to enact those principles and values that not only protect

      lives but that also imbue life with the human qualities that make it
      worth
      living. Despite our overwhelming pain, we have not surrendered to the
      forces
      of occupation, colonization, racism, and dehumanization-nor have we
      adopted
      their moral distortions. I ask you also not to succumb, but to maintain
      and
      enhance the struggle for dignity, equality, freedom, and justice as an
      act
      of collective affirmation on behalf of humanity as a whole.
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