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Repression in Palestine

Published on Thursday, October 5, 2000 by the Progressive magazine

Repression in Palestine: by Matthew Rothschild

This is what occupation looks like.
This is what discrimination looks like.
This is what theocracy looks like.

Israeli troops using live ammunition, rubber bullets, and armor-piercing missiles fired from helicopter gunships have murdered dozens of people--almost all Arab or Palestinian, many of them children--and have wounded at least 1,300 more.

Few of us could deny the brutality when watching, or reading about, the murder of Muhammad al-Durrah, the twelve-year-old Palestinian boy from Gaza who was murdered by Israeli troops seconds after his father had tried to protect him by frantically waving his arms.

The father was also shot and, cruelty upon cruelty, the Israelis gunned down a local ambulance driver who tried to rescue the boy.

This is barbarism, and it's the kind of repression that the apartheid regime used to exercise in South Africa, that the French used to exercise in Algeria, or the Belgians in the Congo, or the British in India.

Occupation requires violence.
Occupation requires dehumanization.

That explains how Israeli soldiers on September 6--three weeks before the current violence--could pose for a picture while holding up by the hair their "trophies" of Palestinians they had beaten simply for trying to go to work in Jerusalem.

The abuse of Palestinians and Arab Israelis is not exceptional; it is common.

And so when Ariel Sharon--the Israeli leader most despised in the Arab world, the godfather of the Sabra and Shatila massacres--made his provocative trip to the Temple Mount lastweek, he lit a cinder box for which he now forswears responsibility.

"The full responsibility for these actions lies on the shoulders of those Palestinians who are leading their people toward yet another tragedy, rather than toward peace," Sharon wrote in The Wall Street Journal October 4.

But Sharon does not want peace, above all.
He wants Israel to remain a Jewish state, above all.

"What is at stake," he wrote, "is a struggle over the shape and future of Israel as a state," and he stressed the need for Israel to maintain its Jewish character.

It's that very insistence of a single religious national identity that has fueled the dehumanization of Arab Israelis and Palestinians.

More than working out a cease-fire, more than hashing out the fate of Jerusalem, overcoming this chauvinism will be the most difficult challenge ahead.

At the United Nations, meanwhile, the U.S. government successfully blocked a resolution "accusing Israel of violating the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which sets rules for the treatment of civilians by occupying military powers," The New York Times reported.

The United States gives upwards of $3 billion a year to the Israeli government.

Watching this repression, are you proud of how your tax dollars are being spent?

© 2000 by The Progressive, Madison, WI.



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