Settler Colonialism: Return to the Middle Ages
By BOUTHAINA SHAABAN
When you read a news story saying that "the United Nations called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and put an end to the policy of forced evictions in East Jerusalem, warning that there are 60,000 Palestinians threatened of becoming homeless," you cannot but wonder about the role of the international organization today and about the goal for which it was created on the eve of the victory of the forces of freedom against Nazism and Fascism and whether it is the same organization authorized by history and the world's peoples to guarantee the right to 'self determination'? Is it the same organization charged with "putting an end to colonialism"? Is it the same organization which believes in the right of all peoples to freedom without discrimination in terms of race or religion? If it is the same organization, why does it allow Palestinian civilians suffer from the brutality of armed settlers?
The evasive and shameful language of the UN's call comes in the context of the submission of the Security Council to the Zionist will, and consequently commits a historic disgrace in the form of ignoring the legitimate political, civil and human rights of the Palestinian people including their right to life and freedom. For the UN not to take any initiative or measure which leads to giving the Palestinian people the right to self determination will remain a disgrace in the history of the organization which will never be removed.
The Palestinians have been under a racist settler form of colonialism for over sixty years; and they are targeted with a campaign of ethnic cleansing launched by armed gangs of settlers supported by Israel's police and army.
This is unparalleled in the 21st century in terms of the crimes which include siege, murder, food poisoning, starvation, assassination, demolishing houses, scorching crops, destroying farms, raping prisoners, trafficking in the organs of captives and preventing Palestinians from moving between their villages, farms and schools.
All this happens under the full gaze and silence of the 'civilized' world which fully supports the Israeli government and fully ignores the savage crimes committed each day by Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers. This silence is also a crime against the Palestinian people, because it allows Israeli politicians and generals and their allies to carry on with their crimes against civilians and violate the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law.
The UN call on Israel to "stop removing [demolishing] Palestinian houses" comes on the backdrop of demolishing the houses of the Hanoun and Ghawi families in al-Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, and even removing the tent they built on the street near their house and confiscating its contents which consisted of covers to ward off the cold, and some utensils. The tent housed fifty persons of the two families who, up until a few months ago used to live in their home demolished by Israeli occupation soldiers in their policy of Judaizing Jerusalem.
Every now and then, the UN or the EU acknowledge that "destroying the homes of Palestinians is a violation of international law". But if this and the other crimes referred to above are violations of international law, why do not they move their conscience to protect the security of Palestinians? The question is: what will the United Nations or Europe do? Will they limit themselves to acknowledging that Israeli acts are in sharp contrast with the UN Charter and international humanitarian law, while armed Jewish settler gangs continue to murder, demolish and set fires in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and other places without any deterrent and without being brought to account?
If all these crimes committed daily against Palestinians do not amount to ethnic cleansing and genocide, what does? In America White settlers, centuries ago, used to throw contaminated blankets on Indians to kill them. Today, Israel's rulers deprive Palestinians of food and medicine, burn crops and poison drinking water in order to kill the Palestinians or force them to leave. The UN calls this crime "forced eviction". So, is there voluntary evection? After all the crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces and armed gangs of settlers, the UN only "calls on Israel to stop demolishing houses". Maybe, it forgot to add, "please!"What Palestinian civilians urgently need now is an investigation into Israeli crimes to be reported to an international organization which still retains some self respect and concern for what remains of its credibility.
The crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces, the terrorization of unarmed Palestinian civilians by armed settlers have become a shame for humanity which should not be tolerated. The acts of these settlers and their supporters in the Israeli government and financiers in the Western pressure groups return the world to the law of the jungle. Considering the shameful incapacity of the United Nations and president Obama's reiteration of his commitment to "Israel's security" on the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish settler – while he should have expressed an equal commitment to Palestinians' security – makes it incumbent on the free people of the world and its intellectuals, including Jewish intellectuals, to raise their voice against Israel's war criminals so that Jews are not eternally shamed for committing war crimes and genocides. They should not keep silence concerning these crimes and should not be satisfied with preventing Israeli criminals from travel. They should be brought to justice in the same way the world has brought to justice other criminals responsible for killing and occupation before them.
Jewish intellectuals in particular should ask themselves why should their government be built on the ruins of the lives and freedom of another people; Why their government should commit crimes of killing children, massacres, home demolition and assassination and then try to justify these crimes and blame all those who want to bring it to account? Why do not Jewish intellectuals face this historical moral dilemma in the Zionist entity?
When Nazi Germany committed massacres against the Jews and other peoples, the Germans faced this dilemma and passed laws banning anti-Semitism. When the world paid the price of Japanese wars and ambitions, Japan took a historical and final decision against war. Why would Jewish intellectuals think they should justify all the acts of Israeli politicians and generals? How can they justify the fact that Ehud Olmert is prosecuted for financial corruption and not for his and others' crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese children and civilians? Why do they even consider these criminals heroes who should be secured and defended? Why do they form governments consisting of criminals competing with their records in assassination, murder and massacres against Palestinian civilians? These crimes are crimes against humanity by any standard. Why do not they criticize, in their culture, their rulers who have the blood of children on their hands? Silent Jewish intellectuals are responsible for the continuation of crimes which bring them all eternal shame as a result of their silence concerning these crimes.
The United Nations and the European Union, and all those who use evasive language in describing crimes which should prompt the world's indignation and anger share the responsibility. History will condemn those who remain silent towards these crimes and will remember and thank only those who defend Palestinian children and the right of the Palestinian people to live in dignity, freedom, security and safety on their national soil.
Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria and was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
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