Alison Weir is an American journalist who, half way through the intifada (uprising), decided to travel to Palestine to see for herself who is victim and who is aggressor. She told a Muslim audience in Santa Clara, California, that she had for so long been busy reporting on women’s issues, on the environment and on other such domestic news until she felt she could no longer ignore TV images of Palestinian stone-throwing children challenging Israeli troops that are fully shielded and armed to the teeth. Having seen with her eyes, and having encountered Israeli occupation troops and lived for days and nights in Palestinian refugee camps, she came back to America with the determination to speak out. She wanted to tell her fellow Americans that a great injustice was being committed against the Palestinians, victims of the victims; that such injustice is seldom reported in the American media, where overt and covert censorship filters out any news reports that may tell the truth because the truth is simply not in Israel’s favour; that this injustice is carried out with American tax-payers’ money and with the most sophisticated American-made weaponry.
Journalists like Alison Weir are a gift from Heaven to the Palestinian people who are in great need of every moral support they can get. There are still very few journalists in the Western world who have the courage to sympathize with the victims and support justice. But despite their scarcity, those who dare speak out prove to us that there is hope that one day public opinion in the world may be freed from the shackles of ignorance, prejudice and fear.
What Alison Weir and her brave colleagues in the world of journalism face is a huge wall of silence erected by the Western feeling of guilt because of what had happened to the Jews in Europe at the hands of Hitler. It is not an easy task to convince the world that the victims of yesterday, or to be more precise those who speak for them, are today perpetrating an equally, if not more horrible Holocaust against the Palestinians, ‘victims of the victims.’ We need not labour in order to prove that the Palestinians are not related to Hitler or to the Germans. We need not even make a great effort in order to show that never in their history were the Palestinians persecutors of the Jews. Nothing is easier than proving Palestinian innocence except for the fact that neither we nor our friends in the West have access to the public. Alison Weir told us in her heart-breaking presentation that none of the American newspapers she had been promised would welcome her dispatches from Jerusalem had published a single word. Men and women of letters in America, as well as men and women in politics, collude in a major cover-up so that American taxpayers are kept in the dark while their dollars keep buying bullets and shells with which children like Iman Hijjo and Muhammad al-Durra are murdered in cold blood. Indeed, it is American money that pays for the robbery by immigrant ‘Jewish settlers’ of Palestinian land to build up, or expand, their citadels in and around Palestinian towns and villages so as to provoke them, intimidate them and eventually force them off the land.
Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and all the brave, justice-loving humans around the world who support the just cause in Palestine need to work more to encourage conversions toward their camp. The West needs dedicated professionals in the media and in politics to awaken it from its slumber and to help it shed from its shoulders the burden of guilt that is forcing it to support the most heinous and longest crime against humanity in modern times.
The eye-opening and conscience-reviving discourse of supporters of justice and truth will undoubtedly, albeit slowly, generate world sympathy for the ‘victims of the victims.’ However, the humane aspect of Palestinian suffering would have, perhaps at a later stage when bravery becomes more abundant, to be presented with a defence of the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance and struggle for freedom and liberation.
In the face of scandalous distortions, such as that presented by the Mitchell Report, the world needs to know that what the Palestinians are engaged in is neither violence nor terrorism. They are clearly acting in self-defence, and one of the noblest types. Without fear of being accused of supporting terrorism, or of being labelled as anti-Semitic, more of us would have to stand up and cry in the face of Mitchell and his likes: “What would you do if someone were to occupy your home, rob you of your dearest possessions and kill or mutilate your loved ones?” Would a sane person ever refer to the struggle of the Vietnamese people as an act of terrorism or would anyone today describe Nelson Mandela as a terrorist?
It is a grave mistake on the part of the Palestinian Authority to accept the recommendations of the Mitchell Report, which calls on the victims to stop protesting while the aggressor is merely asked not to proceed further with its aggression. Israel, who is occupying the land and oppressing its lawful owners, is said to have accepted the report with reservation. Israel is not happy with the recommendation that further settlement activities should be halted. It is tantamount to asking a thief to keep what he has stolen but not to rob anymore. By accepting the Mitchell report, the Palestinian Authority has opened the door for further compromises and perhaps for a plot to undermine the current intifada. But turning the clock back is impossible. Nothing the Israelis may do, or their supporters in the region or outside it, will reverse the process of establishing justice in Palestine. The Palestinians have paid dearly and are prepared to continue to pay with all that remains in order for land and homes to be freed from Zionist occupation. During the current intifada, the Palestinian Authority has had a golden opportunity to side with its people and repent from past sins of collaboration with the enemy. If this opportunity is missed, the Authority will suffer the greatest loss in its short history, for it, too, will go away with the occupation.
Dr. Azzam Tamimi is director of of the London-based Institute of the Islamic Political Thought.