Occupation is Occupation is Occupation!

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Despite the seemingly upbeat political and media analysis coming from all corners, violence will not come to an end in Israel and Palestine until Israel ends its military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. ‘Violence’, be it used to describe legitimate resistance by a people under an illegal, military, foreign occupation, or be it state- orchestrated activities that violate International Law, United Nations Resolutions and deify outright humanity, are natural components to foreign military occupation.

The Palestinian people are forced to live under an illegal, Apartheid-style, Israeli military occupation that has survived for 34 years now, while the world continues to turn a blind eye. It seems that the world of nations in general, and the U.S. in specific, still cannot comprehend the magnitude of the historic injustice done to Palestinians.

Until Israeli occupation ends, neither U.S. President Bush, nor Israeli Prime Minster Sharon nor does Palestinian Authority President Arafat have the ability, individually or collectively, to totally stop a people resisting, albeit at times in non-conventional and sometimes unacceptable forms, the illegal presence of a foreign army on their lands. Expectedly, the desperation level inherent in the resistance will continue to attempt to match the brutality of the occupation itself.

Instead of realizing the window of opportunity opened by the Oslo Peace Accords and the historic concession made when Palestinians politically recognized Israel’s right to exist and forfeited 78% of their original land in return for a lasting and just peace, Israel has opted to continue its failing attempt to master the age-old colonial project of occupation.

To list the number of failed Israeli strategies aimed to bring the Palestinian people into total Israeli submission would require volumes. The invasions, the bombardments, the settlements, the racial discrimination, the massacres, the political arrests, the torture, the collaborators, the non-visual prohibition of natural growth of Palestinian cities, the economic control, the unleashing of fighter jets on civilian populations, the collective punishment, the besieging of cities, the tank blitzes, etc. All of these are living objects of the history books for future generations.

However, the most recent Israeli strategy, which will fail as well, is worthy of special note since it is one that the world is blindly following, occupation by media blitz and language wizardry.

The Israeli occupiers have successfully lured the media to take interest in every one of their cabinet meetings – some political meetings, some security meetings and some closed ‘kitchen’ meetings. They have succeeded, to date, to allow every Israeli politician and spokesperson represent the official Israeli establishment and have created a leadership of media individuals, armed with thirty second sound bites, in lieu of strategic State leadership.

Furthermore, the mastering of ‘talking peace and acting war’ has taken on a new meaning in Israel. Straight-faced politicians, journalists and diplomats have actually come to believe that Sharon’s broken-record demand for total cessation of Palestinian ‘violence’ is a realistic prerequisite before ending Israeli aggression against Palestinian cities and returning to the negotiating table.

For over one year, world leaders have racked up frequent flyer miles rushing to the region while actually believing that Sharon’s obsession with the 48 hour timeframe is a sign of hope, instead of reading it for what it really is, a two-day extension of occupation, and thus, a legitimate recipe for continued resistance.

After 54 years of failing to destroy the Palestinian Right to Exist, Right to Return and Right to Statehood, one would have hoped that Israel would have learned by now, albeit at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and Palestinian blood, that there is no justification for occupation, none whatsoever. Instead, Israel has excelled once again by launching this ingenious style of occupation – an occupation by media, by words, by spokespersons. This style of occupation is meant to drown out the traditional means of Israel’s brute force that continues every day and attempts to make occupation seem somehow understandable, necessary, flexible and logical.

It seems that international media, the world community and the United States, even the post-September 11th United States, is just unable to come to terms with the reality that occupation — be it by fighter jets, house demolitions, tanks or media blitzes — is still occupation and Palestinians will continue to resist it by all means available to them, as sanctioned by the Charter of the United Nations.

Sadly, in the ongoing cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, another chapter of false hope is being raised. The solemn reality is that occupation, in all its forms, must end as a precondition to a lasting peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Without this real movement in the Middle East Peace Process, the world will continue to be jerked from one meeting to another, from one announcement to the next, each time losing interest, losing hope and losing their own morality.

Mr. Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, who relocated to his family’s home in Al-Bireh, West Bank immediately following the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994). Mr. Bahour is co-founders of MEViC, the Middle East Virtual Community.

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Sam Bahour


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