October 5, 2000

Responding to
TALKING POINTS ON THE RECENT VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIAN
TERRITORIES sent to the
JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL
of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa
Counties

I (Fr. Labib Kobti from St. Anne's of the Sunset, Arab-American Catholic Community) was invited to join the Jewish-Palestinian Living room Dialogue with Len and Libby Traubman as I am the pastor of Nadim Zarour who died at Grace Cathedral trying to build bridges with the Jews, Muslims and Christians. I was so privileged to meet wonderful Jewish people. I have worked with wonderful Jewish people in Israel, have been in a Kibbuz, at Nevi Shalom with Fr. Bruno and at Beit-Shalom-Latroun.

With my respect to the talking points that I have received and that have some good points and some points that I may discuss...

But let me tell you sincerely what I think as we need to build a bridge of TRUTH and DIALOGUE:

1) The International Law gives the right to people under occupation to resist the occupation by any means. Many countries have resisted occupation including the USA.
In fact: The UN Resolutions and the International Community recognizes that the Palestinians are under Occupation by Israeli army forces, that is why there is a peace process and a call to restore to the Palestinians their rights and their lands. This does not mean that the Palestinians should hold his rights to resist the occupation.

In fact, Palestinians has the right to resist the Israeli occupation. Nobody can deprive them from this human rights. I do not call for violence but I state this TRUTH, again that the Palestinians are not less than anybody in the world to have a right to resist occupation. It is wrong to kill children or civilians but it is legal to resist the occupying forces.

As an Arab Catholic Priest and peacemaker, I have always called on nonviolent resistance until justice is given to all.

2) The International law gives to the police and security forces to use fire arms in extreme circumstances, when their lives are in danger.

The facts on the ground of the Holy Land is that Mr. Sharon entered the Masget Al Aksa with more military than when Israel occupied East Jerusalem with more than 1000 soldiers in a provocative way and hurt the most important nerve in the Holy Land: the religious one.

The facts on the ground say that the Israeli army killed with snipers a lot of Palestinians (recognized by an article by Haaretz), they also recognized the blood killing of the 12 years old child.

The facts say that the Palestinians are resisting with stones and machine guns when Israel is using are backed by tanks and helicopter gunships and using different kind of weapons including anti-tanks missiles against the demonstrators. You can see on http://www.addameer.org/september2000 the statistics and the age of the people who have been killed. If the Palestinians had fired a missile into an Israeli apartment block?  I suspect our old friend "terrorism" would have been produced to account for such a barbarity. THE FACT that the victims are Palestinians and mostly under 18 yeas old.

The fact is also that the Palestinians did not fight or throw stones on civilians at Israeli towns but on Israeli forces at the Occupied territories, I mean where they have the right to resist the Occupation. Let Israel leave these Territories will the Palestinians go to Tel-Aviv or Ashdot to throw stones...
 I do not see sincerely that the Israeli forces were so in danger to use this excessive use of force, I mean to kill civilians with snipers and Antimissile tanks.

If really the Israeli forces were in such a danger why Israel is refusing the International INVESTIGATION on who is guilty or on what is happening in the Holy Land.

I think that we should be fair enough to see the things as they are with eyes of good will. And I am sure that all of you are people of GOOD WILL.

3) I do not think that it is serving Israel to justify things that the TVs are showing as they are.  And I do not think that we should accept the impartial media that continues to suggest that there's nothing very odd about using tanks and missiles against rioters and gunmen.

It is not serving Israel as violence will lead to violence and I am so afraid that so fanatics will call for more killings from the Israeli or Palestinian part. Our children Jewish, Christians and Muslims have the right to live in peace, and security should be provided EQUALLY for all of them.

3) I ask you to read this letter sent to President Clinton by Dorothy Jean Weaver
at: http://www.al-bushra.org/temp/turning.htm

And perhaps the message of  CHARLES FISCHBEIN, executive director of the Washington regional office of the Jewish National Fundhttp://www.al-bushra.org/temp/read.htm

4) Do you remember the Story of Samson in the Bible? His enemies tried by all means to kill in him everything. But they could not kill his SOUL, his SPIRIT, his WILL to return back, TO WIN, he even killed himself, but it was disastrous for others.

Do you remember the history of the brave place called Masada in Israel? The Jews preferred the death to surrender to the Romans, and by their BRAVE death they inspired their people for the future. They WON the war, and by that brave death, they multiplied. You use this place, till now, as a symbol of your wonderful heroes. In what way Masada was a victory? How Masada won? Because the Roman Empire with all its big army could not kill the SOUL of the Jews, their SPIRIT and their WILL to stay and come back one day.

Do you remember the Camps of Concentration of the Nazis? By the UNJUST and unjustified suffering and death of innocent people, the Jews eventually became stronger and unified. No Nazi could kill the Spirit, the SOUL and the WILL of the Jews. The Jews WON the battle and history. Till now the history speaks about you and will speak and sympathize. Do you know in what way the People in Auschwitz and other camps WON in the end? Because the suffering and the death did not and cannot and will never be able to kill the SOUL, the SPIRIT of people who were determined to live and survive.

Do you understand the GREAT LESSON of all these things, your history, for the present -- for the determination of the Palestinian people under oppression? That people will multiply and come back one day.

Your history is an example for all nations WORLDWIDE. Isn't it also the history of the wonderful American Black people in USA, with Martin Luther king? Isn't it the history of the Apartheid in South Africa with Mandella and many other people who fought for their rights, dignity and identity and build their national countries or entities.

This history will be repeated for the Arabs: Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians and especially for Palestinians, they shall overcome one day in spite of what those who do not read the history are doing to kill their soul, spirit and will.

With love and respect,

Fr. Labib Kobti