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Remi Kanazi: The Existing Question

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    The Existing Question Remi Kanazi http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13103.htm 05/18/06 Information Clearing House -- -- May 15 marked the 58
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2006
      The Existing Question
      Remi Kanazi

      05/18/06 "Information Clearing House' -- -- May 15 marked the 58 year
      anniversary of Al Nakba (The Catastrophe). Every year, Palestinians
      recount the tragedy of 1948. I recall my grandmother's anguish: she
      was seven months pregnant with my mother when she was forced to flee
      to Lebanon by boat. She waited in Lebanon. The weeks turned into
      months. The months turned into years…58 years later my grandmother has
      yet to return to her house in Jaffa.

      When the Zionists forces (the Haganagh, Irgun, and Stern Gang) tore
      Palestine limb from limb, depopulating villages, uprooting cemeteries,
      and pillaging arable fields—Israel had not even been created. Today we
      see a fight for Israel's "right to exist." But what right does Israel
      have to exist in its current form?

      United Nations (UN) Resolution 194 states,

      "The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with
      their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest
      practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the
      property of those choosing not to return."

      Israel's admittance into the UN was conditional: it must recognize UN
      Resolution 194. Nevertheless, since the passing of UN Resolution
      273—which admitted Israel into the UN on May 11, 1949— Israel has
      openly rejected this requirement. Commenting on Israel's dismissal of
      the resolution, Professor of Law Francis A. Boyle wrote in his book
      Palestine, Palestinians and International Law,

      "Insofar as Israel has violated its conditions for admission to UN
      membership, it must accordingly be suspended on a de facto basis from
      any participation throughout the entire United Nations system."

      Yet, the world hasn't seen one UN resolution concerning Israel
      enforced by the UN or the international community. America
      specifically refers to "countless" UN resolutions Iraq refused to
      comply with as a major reason to invade in 2003. If America were to
      invade Iraq on this reasoning, one would think they would at least
      attempt to enforce the UN resolutions pertaining to Israel.

      The implementing of UN Resolution 194 was the condition for Israel's
      "right to exist." Today we see many more factors that should make one
      contemplate this right. Israel illegally occupies East Jerusalem, the
      West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Post-disengagement, Israel continues to
      occupy Gaza through control of borders, air, water, and resources.
      According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, since March 31 of this
      year, Israel has fired more than 5100 artillery shells at Gaza.

      The occupation is illegal under international law and UN resolution
      242 (reaffirmed by resolution 338). UN resolution 242 explicitly
      states that Israel must "withdraw from territories occupied." On this
      basis, before going into the brutality of the occupation, one cannot
      expect the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel's "right to exist."

      Furthermore, Israel exists today as a Jewish state and not
      coincidentally a racist state. The Palestinians living inside Israel
      are second-class citizens. Discriminatory laws are in place regarding
      religion, marriage, and land ownership. Access to education, jobs and
      economic stability has been hindered due to successive Israeli
      administration's prejudiced policies. One can not expect those in the
      Occupied Territories to recognize Israel, if Israel as a Jewish state
      does not recognize the rights of one in five of its citizens. Just
      this week the Israeli High Court voted down a law that would instate
      "family reunification," the unifying of Palestinians living outside of
      Israel with their spouse living inside Israel. This is one more policy
      that tries to force those living inside Israel to emigrate to the
      Occupied Territories or elsewhere. One father who has been trying to
      get Israeli citizenship since 2004 to reunite with his wife and two
      daughters, asked the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "How do you explain to
      a five-year-old girl that daddy won't be home because of a law?"

      The discriminatory policy of the government is emblematic of the
      feeling in Israeli society. A recent poll conducted by the Israel
      Democracy Institute found that 62 percent of Israelis prefer that
      their government promote the emigration of the Palestinian population
      living inside Israel. Electronic Intifada, a website that covers the
      Israeli/Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian perspective,
      published a piece by I'lam, "the only media centre for the Arab
      minority in Israel," which stated, "Recent polls have shown that,
      while on average 40 per cent of Israelis want Arab citizens forced to
      leave the country, that figure rises close to 60 per cent when
      respondents are asked, more ambiguously, if they want the Arab
      population `encouraged' to emigrate." Israel's systemic desire for the
      separation and future dispossession of its Palestinian citizens is yet
      another reason to question its "right to exist" in its current form.

      It is particularly absurd for Israel and the West to call upon the
      Palestinian government to recognize Israel when Israel refuses to
      recognize the Palestinian people. Take for example the policy
      implemented during the Oslo years, a policy that continues today.
      During the Oslo years settlements expanded at an inordinate rate with
      a clear mission to expand the borders of Israel, jeopardizing the
      possibility of a future Palestinian state on 22 percent of historic
      Palestine—the internationally recognized 1967 borders.

      Today we see Kadima's plan for the recognition of the Palestinian
      people: Judaize Jerusalem (while permanently dispossessing as many
      Palestinians as possible though extensions and encirclements of the
      Apartheid Wall), expand and connect desirable and densely populated
      settlements, and extend the policy of unilateralism thereby hindering
      any opportunity for cohesion, reconciliation or negotiations. The
      border policy of Israel is compounded with a 38 year occupation, which
      includes land confiscation, home demolitions, permanent checkpoints,
      flying checkpoints, curfews, expropriation of vital resources such as
      water, strip searches and various acts of humiliation and collective
      punishment. On the physical front, Israel has illegally detained
      thousands of Palestinians (in most cases torturing them),
      extrajudically assassinated hundreds of Palestinians, killed hundreds
      of women and children, and has fired thousands of artillery shells on
      the Occupied Territories. This course of action continues unabated,
      while the world sits idly by. Furthermore, the illegal settlers in the
      Occupied Territories abuse the Palestinian population with virtual
      impunity. Thousands of cases have surfaced where settlers have beaten
      Palestinians, thrown rocks at their children on their way to school,
      killed family livestock, and burnt down or uprooted their olive trees.
      The Israeli government has done nothing to stop these actions.

      On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority has complied with the
      Sharm al-Sheikh cease-fire and has maintained the agreement well past
      its expiration only to be met with an economic and political boycott
      by Israel and the international community. Israel and the West's
      policy of not recognizing the Palestinian people have driven up the
      figures of unemployment, poverty, and malnutrition.

      The most significant point of hypocrisy is Israel and the West's
      double standard regarding the governments in the conflict. If the
      world is to believe that Israel does not have to recognize Yasser
      Arafat or a Hamas-led PA because they are terrorist entities, would
      Israel not be held to the same standard? Their policies and tactics
      are in direct violation of international law and the Geneva
      Conventions, while their practices have been criticized by every major
      human right organization in the world, not to mention the Hague's
      critical ruling on the Apartheid Wall. Israel does not recognize the
      Palestinian Authority, not based on their refusal to recognize Israel,
      but on Israel's summation of what the PA represents. Should the PA not
      be able to make the same assessment?

      No people, surely no occupied people, should be expected to recognize
      Israel under these conditions. The international community should not
      demand the Palestinians recognize Israel, but ask themselves an
      important question: given the circumstances does Israel have a right
      to exist?

      Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website
      www.PoeticInjustice.net He lives in New York City as a Palestinian
      American freelance writer, poet and performer and can reached via
      email at remroum @ gmail.com



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