Israel's Apartheid Must EndBy KEVIN JAMES New York Daily News, Dec 10 2000
The latest peace proposal of Ehud Barak, who resigns today as Israel's prime minister, demonstrates a tragic failure to grasp the deeper undercurrents of the present Israeli-Palestinian conflict.There can no longer be any peace process until Israel acknowledges the consequences of its flagrant disregard for international law and human rights.
Palestinian activist Salmon Abu-Sitta recently told a New York City audience that Israel has to learn to live with people, not instead of people.
Ami Ayalon, retired head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, stunned his fellow countrymen last week when he pointed an accusing finger at his government's 'apartheid' policies.
Ironically, Barak also revealed damning sentiments in 1998 when he let slip --and later apologized for-- "If I were Palestinian, I'd also join [a] terror group."
Middle East scholar Edward Said recently wrote of a new set of declarations for peace evolving among leading Israeli, West Bank, Gaza and diaspora Palestinians. One stipulation is that the Oslo accords must be thrown out and that the original UN resolutions delineating Israel's boundaries be strictly adhered to.
Another condition is the removal of Israeli settlements and military roads that effectively break up the contiguity of Palestinian lands.
Former President Jimmy Carter describes how the deliberate placement of isolated Israeli communities as outposts in Palestinian lands leaves settlers open to attack without massive military protection, thus frustrating both Israelis who seek peace and any Palestinian government from realizing an integral sovereign nation.
Any legitimate peace process must include Israel's atonement for the lies and deceit used to justify more than 50 years of land grabbing, racism and cruelty inflicted against Muslim and Christian Palestinians.
The first step must be to compensate the Palestinian people for their losses and to allow them to return to their homes and property with full and equal rights of citizenship according to UN Security Council resolutions.
More important, however, is the fundamental change that must occur within Israel's mentality.
The mindset that "One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail" voiced by Rabbi Yaacov Perin in 1994 when he eulogized mass murderer Baruch Goldstein must follow the Third Reich to the grave.
"Never again" must apply equally to all peoples who have ever faced ethnic cleansing or enslavement by virtue of their identity, be they Jewish, Muslim or Christian, Bosnian, African or Native American.
As philosopher Martin Buber noted in 1961, "Only then will the young and old in our land realize how great was our responsibility to those miserable Arab refugees in whose towns we have settled from afar; whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest; the fruit of whose gardens, orchards and vineyards we gather; and in whose cities that we robbed, we put houses of education, charity and prayer."
James is director of government relations for the Council on American Islamic Relations' New York office.
(c) New York Daily News