Urgent appeal (from Palestinian intellectuals)
Date: 3/29/2002 3:30:53 PM Pacific Standard Time

29 March 2002

URGENT CALL TO WORLD CIVIL SOCIETY: BREAK THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE, ACT BEFORE
IT IS TOO LATE

We, the undersigned, believe that a full-scale Israeli offensive throughout the
Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is imminent and that such an
unprecedented attack demands from global civil society an unprecedented
response.  For this reason, we urge global civil society - including human
rights organisations, solidarity groups, and individuals - to take immediate
direct action to stop Israel's all-out war against the Palestinian people and
Israel's 35-year belligerent military occupation of the Gaza strip and West
Bank, including east Jerusalem.

Today, Israeli occupying forces invaded the compound of PNA President Yasser
Arafat in Ramallah as part of a systematic and longstanding campaign to
undermine, humiliate, and destroy the Palestinian political leadership.  Israeli
troops have also seized complete control of Ramallah and imposed a total
curfew.  At the same time, Israeli officials have begun a massive military
build-up, including the mobilization of 10,000 army reservists, in preparation
for an openly declared war throughout the OPT that promises to be widespread,
prolonged, and bloody.

Earlier this month, escalating Israeli attacks - including willful killings,
indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, complete economic and social
suffocation, and mass destruction of housing and
agriculture - culminated in full-scale invasions of Palestinian refugee camps
and villages that killed hundreds of civilians. Statements by Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon today referring to Arafat as the "enemy" and speaking of
the need to "extirpate Palestinian terrorism everywhere it exists" indicate that
such
attacks are set to resume, with greater ferocity and scope, leading to
disastrous consequences.

Palestinian civil society groups have warned for years that Israel's freedom to
act as a state above the law would severely undermine chances for a just and
lasting peace.  After decades of occupation,
apartheid, and ethnic cleansing and 18 months of all-out war against a civilian
population, we call for the international community not to wait for massacres on
the scale of those in Sabra and Shatila in
1982; the time for action is now.

The support for the Palestinian people shown by international solidarity groups,
manifested in numerous statements, visits, and actions, has proved invaluable
throughout this crisis.  Now is the time for global civil society to use the
momentum it has generated and the ethical integrity it has demonstrated to
forcefully demand immediate action from governments to end the occupation, which
is the root cause of the conflict.

Governments, including those currently meeting at the UN Commission on Human
Rights, must face direct and unambiguous pressure from their own people to
immediately secure Israel's respect for the Fourth
Geneva Convention and its complete withdrawal from the OPT as necessary steps
towards achieving a just and lasting peace.

To this end, we call upon all those who oppose occupation, apartheid, ethnic
cleansing, and war crimes, who are committed to justice and peace, who are
willing to speak truth to power, to:

1. Raise your voices to break the conspiracy of silence among governments that
allows Israel, which enjoys the unlimited and unconditional support of the US,
to commit war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law with
impunity.

2. Clearly, vigorously, and publicly demonstrate before governments and
international organisations to demand immediate and effective protection for
Palestinian civilians in the OPT, through protests,
marches, media campaigns, and other peaceful means.

3. Demand that governments end military assistance to Israel, suspend economic
ties, and support the prosecution of war criminals, and urge other states to do
so.

4. Continue and intensify your activities as part of a sustained and systematic
campaign to end the occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes in
the OPT and to support the legitimate
rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Now is the time for immediate and direct action, as the pattern of escalating
oppression and brutality that we have experienced over the past 18 months moves
inexorably towards a disaster whose consequences
we can only begin to imagine.  In this dark hour of suffering and determined
resistance, we are sure that the worst is yet to come, but we are equally sure
that, with the support of global civil society at this crucial time, peace and
justice will prevail.

Signed:

Dr. Heydar Abdel-Shafi
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti
Dr. Azmi Bishara
Rana Nashashibi
Dr. Eyad Sarraj
Khader Shkirat
Raji Sourani