Saturday, 27 November 2010

Mustafa Barghouti, major Israel-basher, awarded France's highest honour (2)

"There isn’t any place in the world where apartheid is so systematic as it is today in Palestine… You are talking about a situation where we the Palestinians are prevented from using all our main roads because they are exclusive for Israelis and Israeli Army and Israeli settlers. This did not happen even during the segregation time in the [United] States." (Mustafa Barghouthi)

"I do not accept calls for the boycott of Israel products for the reason that they are kosher or because they come from Israel." (Michèle Alliot-Marie, French Minister)

Mustafa Barghouti, BDS leader awarded France's highest honour (1)

Whereas the official line of the French government is that Israel boycott appeals are illegal, the same French government awards the highest honour, the Legion of Honour, to someone who makes the most vile accusations against Israel and is a leader in the BDS movement.  Doesn't this smack of hypocrisy and blatant duplicity on the part of the French ?
There Could Never Be Peace Without a Minimum of Justice (Editor Palestine Monitor)
18 November 2010

Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestine, PNI, thanked the Socialist International for its constant efforts to support the cause of peace in Palestine and in the Middle East, and he apologised for questioning whether the current discussion could be called a debate when the representative of the Israeli Labour Party had left immediately after giving his speech.

He urged participants to face the reality that there was a deadlock in the so-called peace process. It was not hard to imagine what would happen to the proximity talks, and the very big risk of failure due to the continuation of the same policy of settlement expansion, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, and oppressive measures in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel was negotiating via bulldozers. He mentioned Aualage, a small village in Bethlehem in the heart of the West Bank which was losing all its land to Israeli bulldozers and a wall that was three times the length and twice the height of the Berlin Wall. Time was of the essence because we were about to lose the opportunity for peace based on the two-state solution. It was clear that Israel was trying to gain time through the peace process, imposing its own solutions through settlements and wall-building.

He feared that Israel was not considering an independent Palestinian state, but rather a cluster of bantustans and ghettos, each separated from the other. What was being consolidated on the ground was a system of apartheid, he asserted. How else, he asked, could the situation be described when Israel controlled 80% of the water resources in the occupied West Bank, when Israeli settlers were allowed to use 48 times more water than Palestinian citizens who had to buy Israeli products at Israeli prices and pay for the water Israel had taken from them. No other word could be used for the segregation of roads and street, or the situation where a husband and wife living in Jerusalem could not live together if one had an ID for the West Bank. He himself had been a physician in Jerusalem for 15 years but now for five years had not been allowed to enter Jerusalem.

The big question was whether the peace process itself had become a substitute for peace, and for how long would that continue. What law of humanity, he asked, gave Israel the right to impunity from international law. Anyone who dared to criticise Israel was immediately labelled anti-semitic, even such a highly respected Jewish person as Judge Goldstone who had dared to speak about the war crimes in Gaza.

There could never be peace without a minimum of justice, he continued. Palestinians had extended their hand in peace but all they had received in the last 18 years was more war, more settlements and an apartheid wall.

Concerning the siege and blockade in Gaza, he said that the ILP had denied the humanitarian crisis there. There was nowhere in Gaza where you could get water that was drinkable by international standards because the Israeli government was blocking the construction material needed to rebuild the destroyed sewer system. More than two hundred and twenty Palestinians had died because they could not leave Gaza for medical treatment. Twenty-five thousand houses that were practically destroyed during the war on Gaza were still not repaired because Israel would not allow cement or glass into Gaza. Eighty percent of the population of Gaza today were living below the poverty line. This was a humanitarian crisis, recognised by the United Nations, by Amnesty International, and by the Red Cross. He urged the Israeli Labour Party to listen to the civilised world. The siege and blockade, he continued, were not against Hamas: they were a collective punishment of the million and a half people who lived in Gaza.

If Israel would release just a few hundred of the ten thousand Palestinians in its jails, which included over two hundred children, Gilad Shalit and others could go home.

He saw no justification for Israel’s attack on the flotilla. It was a gross violation of international law and he hoped that the world would realise that the Palestinian people had been suffering this type of aggression for the last forty-three years.

He asked why Israel had refused an international investigation and why someone like Mairead McGuire, who had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Ireland, had suddenly been labelled a terrorist since joining the flotilla in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Israel claimed that it was not occupying Gaza, Barghouthi pointed out. It had no right to subject the one-and-a-half million people of Gaza to a blockade without going to the United Nations and putting its case before the international community. Israel was putting itself above international law while claiming to be the victim, a victim that had probably the fifth largest army in the world, more than 300 nuclear warheads, and was the third largest military exporter surpassing both France and Britain. He thought Israel should feel ashamed of a blockade that was preventing students from going to university, doctors from working properly, patients from getting their dialysis, rather than affecting Hamas. He therefore supported the European proposition to allow ships into Gaza under whatever control could be established, as long as this blockade was stopped.

The Palestinian struggle today, he said, was a struggle of non-violence and he was proud that a recent poll by a Norwegian institution had indicated that in the last six or seven months the number of Palestinians who supported non-violence had risen from more than 40% to more than 75%. Every political movement should respect non-violence in the best tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He pleaded for pressure to be put on Israel to stop the destructive violence against peaceful demonstrations in which peace activists from around the world, including Israel, had been injured or even killed. He was proud of this strategy of non-violence, international solidarity and Palestinian unity which would finally achieve their dream of freedom, independence, dignity and democracy. This was the only basis for good governance since lasting peace was found only between democracies, as one could see in Europe.

He regretted the recent decision in Palestine to cancel local municipality elections in the West Bank, which made a mockery of people’s right to choose who would govern them. The people of Palestine needed to regain their unity so as to freely and democratically elect their president, parliament and local councils, as was their right. Israel could not choose for them, nor decide who should negotiate on their behalf. There had been excuses such as the Soviet Union, then Syria, then Iraq, and now Iran, all in order to avoid the main issue which was how to reach a solution with the Palestinian people, the key to stability in the Middle East. Palestinian non-violent resistance could not succeed without international support and solidarity, he continued. Throughout the world there was rising solidarity with the Palestinian people, including calls for divestments and sanctions. Israel was putting herself in the same position South Africa had been in with the apartheid system. This served neither the interest of the Palestinians nor the Israelis in the long run. He called on the Socialist International, with its great tradition of solidarity with oppressed people, to take an effective role in this case number one, as Nelson Mandela had called it, the case of the Palestinian people. A true friend was one who told the truth to his friends, he said, and it was time to tell the truth to Israel, and to ask whether the Palestinian people, after being deprived of their freedom for more than sixty years, were not entitled to the same rights as everyone else.

The struggle for freedom was not just for Palestinian children but for Israeli children too, to save even them from the short-sighted, violent and arrogant policies of their governments that had prevented peace. Referring to the Israeli Labour Party’s representative having mentioned courage, he said that real courage would be to take the decision to stop colonialism, occupation and apartheid, and finally accept Palestinians as equal human beings. In closing he quoted one great leader who had inspired their struggle, Martin Luther King, who had said that in the end we would remember not the acts of our enemies but the silence of our friends. He urged participants not to be silent.

No comments: