Hanan Ashrawi: When the Bully Whines
- A TRILOGY OF DYSFUNCTION
Hanan Ashrawi, Media Monitors Network, 8/2/03
When the Bully Whines
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
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
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 generositya willingness to sacrifice the lives of
countless Palestinians and Israelis for the sake of a unique brand of
Christian fundamentalismis 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
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.
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
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.
However, with "whiners" like Sharon, "friends" like DeLay,
and "racists" like the Knesset and Eitam, Israel seems to be set on a
suicidal course indeed.
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