Wake up. Things Can Get Even Worse
During the past 16 months, observers of the situation in this region have constantly locked their eyes on a narrow time frame:
What will happen next week when this or that leader does this or that? Will Israel occupy/withdraw from this/that Palestinian town tomorrow? Will radical Palestinians blow themselves up next week? Will Powell say something in a speech next week? Will Arafat exert "100% effort" to stop Palestinian violence next month?
We are lost in the details of the news. We lost view of the bigger picture and the abyss weıre being dragged into.
Every time we think the situation has reached a miserable low point beyond which things "can only get better" we were proven wrong. Things got worse and worse.
What if things get really out of control here? They could.
Palestinians and Israelis, have become very sick people. Extremely disturbing scenarios should no longer ruled out.
I am sickened by the nail bombs that explode in Israel. Sickened by real life models erected in a Palestinian university depicting and celebrating these bombings (complete with dismembered dolls and blood red paint).
I am sickened and angered at Israelıs ongoing killing of Palestinians, "targeted" and otherwise, at the bombing of their cities and the mass demolitions of their homes, at the systematic ruination of their infrastructure. Did you know that many Palestinians have to use donkeys to move in and out of their towns because of the roads are closed by the Israeli army?
The other feeling prevailing today is fear. An Israeli cabinet minister is openly advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and their deportation to Jordan or to the Sinai desert. This has become acceptable politics in Israel.
Why shouldnıt I expect that my relatives in the West Bank will soon be packed on trucks and thrown out of their homeland?
And now that one of the latest Palestinian suicide bomber was a woman, why should I be surprised if 10 bombs go off in Israel tomorrow?
And the world is simply watching. Waiting for next week to come. "Let them bleed" the US administration was saying some time ago. "Unhelpful" is all the US now has to say when Palestinian homes get mass demolished. Incidentally, "Unhelpful" was one of the words used by Condoleezza Rice to describe an article in the New York Times by Yassir Arafat calling for peace!
Whatıs the plan here I ask? Is a Palestinian civil war between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas desired in the name of "fighting terror?" Havenıt all of us bled enough? Is it about killing/replacing Arafat (Sharon is on record saying he was "sorry" Israel didnıt kill him the first time round in Beirut!).
Who would benefit from turning the West Bank and Gaza into an Afghanistan-like warlord-infested area? Definitely not the Palestinians. Itıs those in Israel who ideologically oppose the national Palestinian aspirations, many of whom are in power in Israel today. Under the banner of "fighting terrorism," a large scale war of destruction of Palestinian cities and villages, followed by a policy of deportation cannot be ruled out anymore.
Weıre all locked into a big hole here. And itıs the people on both sides who will pay the price, especially the weaker side, the Palestinians.
As a Palestinian, I hope that my community sees how wrong the suicide bombings are and how damaging they are to the national vision to achieve independence and live in a free, democratic Palestine.
I hope that the Israeli community starts to realize what kind of suffering its government and army is inflicting upon the Palestinians and that their security cannot come without ending the occupation of Palestinian land. I hope that they look beyond the simplistic story sold to them by the PR machinery that keeps droning the mantra: Palestinians refused our "generous offer" in Camp David and are only after the destruction of Israel.
I hope that the Israelis understand the Palestinian frustration was not born yesterday, but out of decades of humiliating military occupation and an ongoing confiscation of land to build illegal settlements, even as peace was being negotiated.
Signs of awakening on both sides are starting to emerge, like the refusal of a number of Israeli army reservists to serve in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and the Palestinian voices calling for non-violent protest instead of bombs.
I hope that the US and the rest of the world wakes up from its two-week focus and starts seeing what implications this conflict could have for an already troubled region and the world.
February 7, 2002
Ahmad Humeid is a Jordan based architect and designer. He has been a participant in the PEACE Middle East dialog group since 1998.
A version of this article appeared at http://www.windowatch.com
This article was published simultaneously at PeaceWatch
Don't Just Stand There
American Policy in the Middle East - An Israeli View
What Americans Can do for Peace the Middle East - A Palestinian View
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