Lying Down Weapons Not an Option
- For Palestinians: Lying Down Weapons Not an Option
By Ramzy Baroud - June 28, 2003
Before we get worked up over the title, we must understand the
distinction between terrorism and the right to resist.
The universal understanding of the targeting of innocent civilians in
order to achieve political gains as a form of terrorism can hardly be
argued. In fact, when applying this truth to the Arab/Israeli
conflict, it is clear that the Palestinian people have certainly been
the ultimate victim of terrorism for the last 55 years.
Israel uses a false parallel to deliberately confuse the world
community. It equates a suicide bombing inside Israel, to the killing
of Israeli soldiers or armed settlers in the Occupied Territories.
It's those same soldiers and settlers who are credited for the
killing of 2,563 Palestinians and the wounding of tens of thousands
in the last two years alone.
Israel refers to a Palestinian who arms himself to defend his family
and neighborhood as a "terrorist", the same terminology it uses to
describe an individual blowing himself up in a crowded Tel Aviv
Those unable to comprehend the suffering endured by the Palestinian
people are likely to fail in understanding the motives of a suicide
bomber, within the wider context of the Middle East conflict. Still,
they ought to at least recognize the Palestinian people's right to
defend themselves in the Occupied Territories, invaded and reinvaded
by the Israeli army for the last 30 years.
The Universal Declaration of Human Right's preamble (adopted and
proclaimed by General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) of December 10,
1948), reads: "Whereas it is essential if man is not compelled as a
last resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human
rights should be protected by the rule of law."
Additionally, the General Assembly in its 20th session in 1965
recognized "the legitimacy of struggle by the people under colonial
rules to exercise their rights to self-determination and
independence." Over a decade later, Additional Protocol I to the
Geneva Convention of 1949, (Act 1 C4), passed in 1977, declared that
armed struggle can be used, as a last resort, as a method of
exercising the right of self-determination.
While one can argue, out of his/her concern for the Palestinian
people, that Palestinians should refrain from the use of armed
resistance, the point remains that Palestinians are only exercising
their legitimate right to resist if they wish to use armed struggle.
On the other hand, suicide bombings that target civilians are clearly
not sanctioned by international law. While it is understandably
condemned, those concerned for a lasting peace in the Middle East
must go beyond verbal condemnations and cutting of funds to analyzing
its roots and causes, a process that would always lead back to the
illegal Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.
The distinction between terrorism and the right to resist must be
restated now, more than ever. The Road Map peace initiative, proposed
by the United States and endorsed by a few others, demands that the
Palestinian Authority crack down on Palestinian movements that resort
to armed struggle.
Such a demand is bewildering, considering that an equal demand of an
Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories is yet
to be made. Moreover, while Palestinian groups are engaged in
ceasefire talks with the PA's Prime Minister, Abu Mazen, Israel has
pulled out all of its tricks to disable any possible truce. Since the
Israeli cabinet has hesitantly agreed to accept the general outlines
of the Road Map (with 14 reservations that almost completely deprive
it of any meaning), scores of Palestinians have been killed and
assassinated at the hands of the Israeli army.
Even the false hope that Israel would in fact cease the building of
Jewish settlements on Palestinian land has now evaporated. The
Israeli daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday, June 24,
an alarming remark made by Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon while
addressing his cabinet, saying: "They (the Jewish settlers in the
Occupied Territories) can build in the settlements, but they should
not talk about it and go out dancing every time they get a building
permit. Let them build without talking."
It is under these conditions that the United States, Europe and the
UN expect Palestinians to lie down their weapons. Expecting such an
action by Palestinian groups at a time that none of Israel's deadly
policies have yet been tamed, is similar to asking Palestinians to
surrender completely, an expectation that Palestinians vehemently
Israel's success in equating resistance to terrorism is one of the
important factors that drive many to believe that by forcing
Palestinians to lay down their arms, while still under the
suffocating grip of the Israeli army, the secret formula for peace in
the Middle East will be been attained.
Palestinians have the right to defend themselves and are bound to
adhere to that right. Israel has no right to forge lists of
conditions regarding Palestinian resistance, when it continues to
blow up cars filled with innocent passengers in Gaza, under the
pretext that it is "fighting terror".
Whether armed resistance is a viable strategy or not, this is beside
the point. Palestinians have the right to resist using whatever
humble means available to them, because it is them and them alone who
must collect the scattered body parts of their loved ones, every time
Israel goes on another assassination frenzy.
Resistance and terrorism are two completely different values and it's
not Israel who has the right to impose its definition over the
Palestinian resistance. In a better world, Israeli leaders would be
facing international justice and would be tried for state-sponsored
terrorism. But since we don't live in this better world as of yet,
let us at least refrain from scolding Palestinians for fighting
*Baroud is the editor-in-chief of Palestine Chronicle
(www.palestinechronicle.com) and editor of the anthology
titled: "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli
Invasion," now available at www.PalestineBooks.com
http://www.iap.org E-mails: iapinfo@...
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