Hazem Hussain is supposed to be in a graduate business program in California right now, but unfortunately hes not allowed to be there. Israel wont let him out of the country, despite the fact that he has a US visa. and has officially been admitted to university there, according to Mohammed Omer, writing for the Inter Press Service News Agency on October 21, 2008. This evidence stands in stark contrast to the information held by the Jewish Virtual Library, run by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, feels the need to deny any similarities between the Israeli occupation and South African apartheid: Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens with voting rights and representation in the government. Under apartheid black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they are the overwhelming majority of the population.
.Apartheid or not, Palestinians have lived since 1947 in a state of oppression. According to Stephen Lendman, writing for Global Research, an alternative news agency, the State of Israel was not based on peace and cooperation with the Palestinians, but was forced upon them by the United Nations, acting against Arab opposition to the partition plan. As part of the conflict that followed the creation of Israel, on April 9, 1948, Deir Yassin, a village in Palestine, was the scene of a vicious slaughtering campaign orchestrated by the Israelis against the Palestinians. In this and several other Palestinian villages, Israeli soldiers shot at villagers houses randomly, resulting in many deaths. The villagers who were still alive were rounded up and shot. The victims included women, many of whom were raped, along with the elderly, infants, and children. The statistics regarding the number of people killed in Deir Yassin in this particular incident alone are uncertain, but the most accurate facts place the figure around 93 and 120. Several other villages were plagued by Israels policies of extermination against the Palestinians, and this is just one detail of the Israeli occupation. The colonization of Palestine continues to this day.
For example, the Palestine Chronicle reported on October 15, 2008 that conditions in Akka (Acre) are deteriorating. Fourteen families have been forced into homelessness by Jewish extremists who displaced them and committed arson to their property. In a separate incident, a group of more than 200 Jewish youths are responsible for terrorizing Arab citizens of Akka, forcing them to abandon their homes. The families affected by the persecution are forced to stay in hotels and cannot return to their houses for safety reasons. Akka police are also refusing to provide the basic necessities for these families. The forced displacement of Palestinians in mixed neighbourhoods is creating a system of apartheid in Israel, which has been essentially approved by Israeli politicians.
Israelis are also responsible for sabotaging the Palestinian olive harvest, according to the International Middle East Media Center on October 20, 2008 Several armed Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers on Monday in the West Bank village of Kufer Qadoum near Qalqilia city. A British peace activist was also attacked by armed settlers, despite the heavy Israeli military presence in the area. Israeli settler attacks have also been increasing with the olive harvest—one of the few sources of income available to Palestinians.
According to Rory McCarthy, writing for The Guardian, a U.K. newspaper on October 21, 2008, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has found the Israeli military responsible for killing 68 children living in the Gaza Strip for twelve months up to June 2008. These deaths are the result of the Israeli invasion of Jabaliya, in eastern Gaza, during late February to early March, where more than 100 Palestinians were killed, at least half of them being unarmed, allegedly to stop rockets being fired into southern Israel. And before Hamas and Israel held a ceasefire in June, Palestinians had been killed in other strikes as well. In the West Bank, yet another 12 children were killed by the Israeli military for twelve months to June. According to the same rights group, many of the deaths have not been investigated, and internal inquiries held by the Israeli military were unethical.
In fact, Israel has become so synonymous with conflict in the Palestinian media that there are attempts by Israeli politicians and media groups to literally re-brand the country. According to Anshel Pfeffer, writing for Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, on October 6, 2008, Israels Foreign Ministry is working with Acanchi, a British company responsible for rebranding countries, to market Israel as a conflict-free tourist destination. Selling a more pleasing image of a country will do nothing to stop the conflict. In order for peace to become a reality, Israeli politicians need to be open to dialogue.
There are also many critics who believe that Palestinians bring these problems on themselves. On October 17, 2008, Reuters AlertNet pointed out that clashes between different Palestinian factions, such as those between Hamas and Fatah, have worsened the lives of many Palestinian citizens. Unfortunately, it can also be argued that this is the result of Israels divide-and-conquer policies. When a group of people have been internally displaced and have had their rights ignored by the international community for over fifty years, many citizens will internalize the hatred that has been thrust upon them and start acting violently, turning against each other. There are also many Israelis who are critical of violence against Palestinians. For example, Jewish Voice for Peace is an organization that seeks the peaceful co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians. It also advocates changes in U.S. foreign policy, criticizing Americas support for Israeli politicians that continue the violence against Palestinians.
Today even the media seems to recognize that any attempts at peace are token at best. According to Aron Heller, writing for the Toronto Star on October 19, 2008, Israel is considering an exchange of lands colonized during the 1967 war with Palestine for peace, a plan originally launched by Saudi Arabia in 2002. The plan has hit a snag after dialogue between Syria and Palestine became mainly ineffective. However, Israeli attempts at peace do not come without strings attached. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has his own ideas about what Israeli peace would look like: ” a comprehensive Israeli plan to counter the Saudi plan that would be the basis for a discussion on overall regional peace,” as Barak told Israel’s army radio. Israels outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed similar reservations to the plan, wanting to keep some of the lands colonized in 1967. He also does not support the Palestinians right of return to their homeland, saying it would destroy Israeli culture.
Let me be clear. I am NOT advocating hatred against Jews. I believe that Jews deserve access to land, like any other group of people. However, I will critical when politicians promote their country as a democracy while leaving another group of people internally displaced for over fifty years. I will also be critical when politicians of a country care more about promoting tourism than acknowledging the fact that it is a war zone, and do nothing to stop the conflict, and that goes for any country around the world. In the end, the international community needs to stop belittling the Palestinians need for peace.