The sad smile of the Virgin Mary, caring for her child Jesus Christ, did not stop the Israeli occupation soldiers from taking up positions and targeting that angelic Palestinian face with bullets in order to kill that smile, despite its sadness, so they can kill again, by destroying a statue made by ancient civilizations, what they were not able to kill over two thousands years.
It was in Bethlehem that this new crime was committed. Of course it is a failed attempt to kill peace, love and tolerance. It failed, just as their ancestors’ attempts failed to kill the message when they used their iron nails and thorns to nail the body of Christ to the wooden cross.
They tried that too when they made the Palestinian child Mohammad Al-Durra a target for their snipers, killing him as they killed three hundred and seven other children, up until now. To date, seeking to destroy the love and the peace, they have killed one thousand and four hundred Palestinians and have wounded thirty five thousand, including four thousand and five hundred with permanent disabilities.
They did not hesitate in making ambulances targets too, they shelled and shot at one hundred and thirty-six ambulances, and trampled one with their tanks. They killed doctors and paramedics, prevented pregnant women from crossing their roadblocks é some of those women had their children at the occupation’s military roadblocks, and others died together with their unborn children.
They did not settle for this. They shelled hospitals and surrounded some of them with tanks, as was the case in Ramallah, and prevented the medical teams from leaving to save the injured who were lying in the streets bleeding from gunshot wounds caused by the occupation army. They prevented people, who had the courage to carry and save some of the bleeding wounded, from entering the emergency rooms. They prevented Oxygen cylinders from reaching hospitals and cut off the electricity and water from hospitals.
They demolished, destroyed and pillaged é soldiers like those of the Middle Ages. They stormed houses, destroyed their contents, stole jewelry, money and electrical appliances. This is what the Israeli occupation army soldiers did and are still doing to the Palestinians.
They did not settle for killing human beings and the statue of the Mother of Christ, they also uprooted fruit and olive trees and wreaked havoc in this blessed country. All this took place and continues to take place in the Holy Land, the land of love and peace, under a shower of bullets and missiles from F-16 fighter planes and Apache helicopters and internationally-banned missiles that are being fired at residential areas and houses inhabited by families who do not possess the means of defending themselves. This is the Israeli occupation é a war of racial annihilation being waged by an army that does not adhere to even the absolute minimum of military conduct and human ethics.
So what then does the world want the Palestinians to do faced with these mass crimes directed at all humanity in this year 2002? Does the world expect the Palestinians to smile at the invading killers or welcome them?
Enough is enough. The time has come for every human being on the face of the earth holding the principles of humanity, love and peace in his heart to move to stop this armed racist madness that is attacking a peaceful people and is killing the chance for peace and coexistence in the region. Moving to object and condemn, no matter on how small a scale, will contribute towards eliminating the racist beast, and prevent it from continuing to commit its mass crimes daily.
Based on all this we call on President George W. Bush to move too, but in a different way because he holds the prime responsibility for what is taking place and for the crimes against humanity that are being committed in the Middle East. Based on this, we call on the American nation to move to make it clear to its elected President that a nation that believes in human principles, freedom and democracy cannot pay out money so that the Israeli army can kill an entire nation, destroy, plunder and uproot trees. It is this nation that is paying taxes, funding the planes and tanks that are killing civilians in Palestine and shooting at the Virgin Mary and killing children like Mohammad Al-Durra.
What is the matter with President Bush? Where are his human principles? Is God and his teachings no longer in his mind and heart? Where is the oath he took when he entered the White House?
These are questions we ask of President Bush in the hope that he may return to what is right, stand by what is right and stand up to the crimes against humanity that are being committed, or at the very least stop supplying the killers with weapons, ammunition and economic aid.
We say this to President Bush not to implore him, but to warn him and draw his attention to it. The Palestinian people are firmly rooted in their holy land regardless of how large and widespread the racist attacks and the annihilation attempts. This is a people with roots as deep as its holy land, roots extending throughout the Arab world.
If we are asking President Bush questions and asking him to support what is right and to support human principles, then this too is to draw the attention of President Bush, and not Israel, the occupier and aggressor. He swore an oath before entering the White House to protect the interests of the United States, he is undoubtedly doing that, but not in the Middle East. Thus he is violating his oath, and is harming the interests of the American nation in the Middle East, by siding with the Israeli aggression and occupation, because this will generate unprecedented hatred for the U.S. in the Middle East region é hatred in a region full of strategic interests for the American nation. Is it conceivable that President Bush will continue in a policy that harms the interests of the American nation even though he swore to protect and defend them?
We would like to say to President Bush, despite the existence of advisors to advise him and research centers that present him with studies, research and recommendations, that the matter is far simpler than all the advice they offer him. Palestine is the heart and mind of the Arabs, this will not be changed by any research some institution submits, or by a recommendation submitted by Congress. If the United States wants to maintain its good relations with the Middle East, or its strategic interests in it, then it must stand by what is right and by international legitimacy resolutions, without deceit and without going around in circles.
We say to President Bush that the entire region is full of repression and anger, and that the accumulation of these feelings will lead to an explosion whose impact all the intelligence services and riot control services will not be able to limit. This will not be limited to only one country in the Middle East, it will spread throughout the Arab world from the ocean to the Arab gulf. At that time every American will be targeted and all America’s interests will be endangered é not because the peoples of the region do not want good relations with the Americans or with the U.S., but because the American administration he heads supports the racist military aggression being waged by Israel against the Palestinian people, with support from the Bush administration.
We are giving Bush some free advice é to abide by his oath and by the United States’ stands and not to stray from them. That is, we are not asking him to adopt any stand other than those the U.S. officially commits to; that is, that the U.S. ask Israel to implement resolution 242 and the Land for Peace formula without evasion or hesitancy. This matter has become possible after Prince Abdulla bin Abdel Aziz launched his initiative.
Resolution 242 was drafted by the United States and was approved unanimously by the Security Council. The Land for Peace initiative was launched by President Ronald Reagan. We add to this the fact that President Bush announced the United States’ support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and Secretary Powell crystallized the American vision regarding this matter. So what more is President Bush waiting for?
President Bush’s hesitancy raises doubts regarding the United States’ position in the Middle East region and places it in the dock é accused of deceiving the Palestinians and the Arabs and of encouraging Israel to continue in the crimes it is committing against the Palestinian people. This is the dangerous matter that could lead to an explosion – no one can estimate the negative repercussions it could have on the situation in the middle East and on American interests in this vital and sensitive region.
An opportunity presents itself to President Bush these days. He has sent his envoy General Zinni to supervise the implementation of the Tenet accord and the Mitchell recommendations. President Bush must support Zinni so Israel may be unable to manipulate and evade matters as it usually does. What is needed in Palestine is not the creation of more committees and lengthening the time of meetings and discussions; what is needed is a direct American order to the Israeli government to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and for the establishment of the sovereign independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in return for the Arab recognition of Israel, as was stated in Prince Abdulla bin Abdel Aziz’s initiative.
It is a historic opportunity if the United States and the American administration want to end the conflict in this vital region. It would be very damaging at this moment to mix internal matters with international matters, because strategic interests will be harmed if the opinions of internal power centers win over the higher interests of the American nation.
The Palestinian people have proved, through their steadfastness and their resistance against the might of the military force the Israeli government used to force them to submit to its occupation, that the Palestinian people will not kneel and will resist no matter how heavy the price (and it is a very heavy price indeed). The Palestinian people have also proved, through their steadfastness, that the military solution that the Israeli government thought of, and President Bush supported, has failed miserably.
This is the important lesson for those wanting to learn.
We call on President Bush to learn from these lessons and to act firmly against the occupation and to demand, not request, that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian lands and end the occupation immediately so stability and peace may prevail in the Middle East.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.