By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
The lone voice of dissent was that of Congressman Ron Paul, who rose against the resolution, saying it was unfair and inflammatory in its condemnation only of Palestinian attacks. What was alarming was that all Minnesota Congresspeople voted in favor.
I want to openly and publicly ask these Minnesota Congresspeople some questions.
Israel Wants Security: What Do Palestinians Want?
We have a saying in the Arab World: “He hit me and cried, and raced ahead of me and complained.”
Israel wants security, but what do Palestinians want? What are Palestinians fighting for? According to Palestinians, what will they accept for peace? What is their narrative regarding this latest turn of events? What are their concerns and fears? When you voted on HR 951, did you do so after listening solely to those who raced ahead and cried?
Israelis are good at hitting Palestinians on a daily basis and crying, then racing ahead and promoting their view of events and distorting the image of Palestinians, who then do not get a fair hearing. Yet justice demands a fair and balanced hearing of both sides.
House Resolution 951, like those before it, listened to Israeli cries and failed to look behind and see the tortured and dispossessed Palestinians caged in Gaza.
After 15 years of negotiations, instead of a Palestinian State emerging, we find Israel continuing its expansionist policies in a gradual manner, using the peace process to buy time and—in the words of Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister—a “shoah,” or holocaust, to punish Palestinians for resisting its policies. Israel has claimed it is seeking peace, but could not find a peace partner. If Israel is seeking peace, than how does it explain Arab home demolitions, torture, imprisonment of Arabs without charge or trial, land grabbing and illegal Jewish-only settlements connected to Israel with Jewish-only bypass roads slicing Arab land into Bantustans?
How does Israel explain that in December of 2007, right after the talks at Annapolis, Maryland, a community of Palestinian shepherds numbering 272 people in 37 families were forced off their land in Khirbet Qassa village by the Israeli military and are wandering the area with no place to go? According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, in 2006-2007, in the West Bank alone, 165 houses were demolished, leaving 724 people homeless. In 2004-2007, in east Jerusalem, 300 houses were demolished, leaving 939 Palestinians homeless. Are these actions of a country seeking peace, or seeking more pieces of land?
Gaza: A Move Toward Peace?
Israel points at Gaza as an example of a peace concession. However, to Palestinians, Israel did not leave Gaza, but turned it into an open-air prison.
For example, almost all of Palestinians’ food supply comes either from or through Israel. Electric power and fuel come from Israel. Of the 9,000 commodities Gazans are allowed to import, Israel is allowing less than twenty. Currently, Israel has denied bottled water, filtering equipment, cement, spare parts for medical equipment, and everything from computers to tissue paper from entering Gaza. And, of the thirty-two renal dialysis machines in hospitals, twelve are out of order and Palestinians have no spare parts to fix them. These are not security measures, but cruelty measures to destroy the will and spirit of the Palestinian people.
And with every surge of Palestinian violence, Israel uses this opportunity to strike with a lack of mercy. We hear “put the fear of death into the Arabs,” “mow them down,” and now the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, has threatened Palestinians with a “shoah,” which means holocaust.
With every surge of Israeli violence, as usual Palestinians are contacting ambassadors, their governments, and the United Nations begging for help. But, besides lip service, nothing has been done to hold Israel accountable to international law. Nothing. The humanitarian cry for help and protection is met with indifference. Every peace negotiation results in a set of “conditions” that the Palestinians must fulfill to earn their basic human rights. Then, when Palestinians wrongly resort to violence to defend themselves, everyone hears Israel racing ahead and crying and starts to condemn.
Yes: terrorism and blowing up of civilians is wrong and should be condemned.
However, we cannot fight terrorism by turning a blind eye to the occupier as they oppress and violate every human and international law. And we cannot fight terrorism by justifying cruel measures against the weak collectively for wrongly resorting to violence to protect themselves from the oppression of the occupier. Before blindly casting a vote, I ask Minnesota Congresspeople to find the courage and will to hear both sides, before they vote in favor of those who race ahead and cry after they have cruelly beaten up the victim.
Such votes do not produce peace in any region.