BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published March 6, 2002
Protestors wrong to blame only Israel for conflict in West Bank, Gaza
To the Daily:
In regards to the latest wave of public support on this campus for Palestinians, I have only a few questions for those who took to the Diag in protest. First, many of you rightly declared that the violence must end, for who would ever want war and the death and destruction that come with it? However, I find it hypocritical to put all blame squarely on Israel, particularly in wake of the latest suicide bombing over the weekend of Orthodox Jews leaving synagogue. How can you claim to advocate peace, while not admitting that Palestinian terrorists and the Palestinian Authority have also done a great deal to undermine the peace process?
Second, if statehood, self-determination, and all other inalienable rights of human beings are being to the Palestinians, why hasn"t the PA done more to secure their independence?
There is no military that has been established to fight for a separate state the armed forces of the Palestinian people consist of a number of terrorist factions that simply kill Israeli civilians (and fight each other, no less). There also has not been a declaration of statehood one would think that if Yasser Arafat was truly serious about a Palestinian state, he would have declared the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be the independent state of Palestine by now.
Again, in light of this lack of effort by Arafat, coupled with the entrenched corruption of the PA and their inability to control terrorism within their territories, it is impossible to simply blame Israel for the violence.
Lastly, while the Palestinians do have legitimate claims to statehood, why has this surge of national identity come only since 1967? It was not as if there was a country called Palestine with a Palestinian government that was overthrown by a foreign nation. In fact, the entire country ancient Israel, historic Palestine, etc. did not have self-rule since 63 BC until 1948, when the State of Israel was established. In those roughly 2,000 years, Romans, the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain ruled Palestine.
After 1948, the West Bank was occupied by Jordan, the Gaza Strip by Egypt. Why is it that not until 1967, when Israel took over those two areas, did the Palestinians make a serious push for independence? Perhaps it only arose because the Palestinians were under Jewish rule. This was no different from the Romans, Turks, British, Jordanians or Egyptians, yet suddenly there was this dire need for a state. While it does not nullify that need, I was just curious as to why it suddenly arose in 1967.
Media portrayal of Palestinians as "barbaric terrorists" misguided
To the Daily:
The general campus community tends to either feel very passionate about the Arab-Isreali conflict or they are generally apathetic. The Daily reported yesterday in Palestinian protesters call for end to fighting that over 100 members of our campus community gathered in the blistering cold on Monday to help spread the word of ending the violence. The surrounding media has been generally biased in their coverage of the conflict. I am proud of the campus community for voicing the truth.
Despite media portrayal, Palestinians are not barabaric terrorists. They are an oppressed people struggling for their rights and liberties. Their land has been stripped away from them, and they are being told that they have no right to return. Their lives have been destitute and impoverished over the past few decades. When women and children die in the relentless attacks, we hear from the Israeli army, "We are sorry, we thought they were Palestinian militants." When their homes are demolished, we hear from the Israeli army, "We are sorry, we thought the homes were abandoned."
When will it stop? Ariel Sharon yesterday said, "The aim is to increase the number of losses on the other side. Only after they"ve (Palestinians) been battered will we be able to conduct talks." With attitudes such as these, I fear that the violence will only continue. Is he waiting for all of the Palestinians to be wiped out before he has these negotiations? The 53 years that the Israelis have been suppressing and battering the Palestinians must end. By supporting those that spread the truth, such as those that did on Monday, only then can we educate ourselves and potentially save the lives of the innocent.
Zahr fails to address specifics of "occupation," uses word too liberally
To the Daily:
After reading Amer Zahr"s column, Narrowing down Palestine, Israel and Divestment (3/4/02), I was alarmed by the way he throws around the word occupation in reference to the Palestinian Israeli land dispute. Through the word occupation and throughout his article Zahr implies that Israel is some bloodthirsty nation that invaded Palestine in an effort to kill the Palestinians and take over their land.
This could not be further from the truth. Zahr fails to address how the land became "occupied" in the first place. The fact is that after the United Nations partition Israel was immediately attacked by the surrounding Arab nations, in an effort to eradicate the entire nation. Israel won and tried to build a country only to be attacked again by the surrounding Arab nations again in 1967. It was during the 1967 war that Israel was forced to defend itself by going into the Golan heights, Gaza and the West Bank.
After Israel won the war its government wanted to give back the west bank and Gaza. However at the time the Palestinians refused to acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel on any level so there was no one for the Israeli"s to give the land back to.
As another course of action the Palestinians decided to get back "their land" by perpetrating acts of terror within Israel. So is the land "occupied" as Zahr puts it? I don"t believe that occupied is the right term.
When the Palestinians refused to acknowledge Israel and get back their land in 1967, it seems to me that they forfeited some of their rights, certainly the right to try and regain it through the murder of Israel civilians. It seems to me that Zahr believes that Israel"s mere existence is considered an occupation of Palestinian lands. He should address how Israel acquired that land in the first place and reassess what the word occupation really implies