IN LEBANON AND AT HOME:
HARD-LINE ISRAELI POLICIES RUN INTO STIFF RESISTANCE
By Joyce Chediac
September 18, 1997
Working people in the Middle East are walking a little taller. Why? This week, Lebanese fighters dealt Israel one of its greatest military losses there in more than a decade. On Sept. 5, Hezbolla fighters and Lebanese soldiers intercepted and destroyed an elite Israeli commando unit violating Lebanese territory. The Lebanese also battled Israeli jets, helicopter gunships and a gunboat called in to rescue the commandos. When the smoke cleared, 11 "seals" of Flotilla 13, including the commander, lay dead. Flotilla 13 has assassinated several Palestinian leaders over the years. It was engaged in a stealth mission on Lebanese soil.
This is state terrorism. Yet President Bill Clinton didn't condemn the Israeli mission, or its violation of Lebanese sovereignty. Instead, Clinton's harsh words were reserved for Arab people. On Sept. 4, three bombs had exploded in a West Jerusalem shopping mall, killing the three bombers and four Israelis, and wounding about 200 others. This is what got Clinton's attention. He made a statement blaming Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for "failure to combat terrorism," and blamed the bombers for intending to kill "the peace process itself."
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has now gone to the Middle East. According to the press, she, too, will aim heavy guns at Arafat and the oppressed Palestinian people, letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off the hook.
WHY PALESTINIANS RISK DEATH? Some 20 Palestinians have turned themselves into human bombs since the Oslo agreement of 1993. This ultimate sacrifice by so many is not cowardice, as the media says. It is a sign of desperation, of having nothing to lose. It shows that oppression cannot kill the will to fight. This resistance to oppression is not what is "killing the peace process." The Israeli government's intransigence is to blame. And the U.S. government has been a willing partner-- first in sabotaging the agreement, then in continuing the deception that the Palestinians are responsible.
The scenario goes like this: The Israeli government violates the Oslo accords. Each action is designed to provoke a Palestinian response. Then Palestinian resistance becomes an Israeli excuse to reject further obligations under Oslo while pulling back more on the terms already in place.
Clinton ignores Netanyahu's provocations and humiliations of the Palestinian people, and backs Israel's demands for Arafat to crack down on "terrorism."
The Israeli government has imposed collective punishment on the Palestinians, for months at a time denying them entry into Israel to work, leaving their families desperate and hungry. Tel Aviv has demolished Palestinian homes, limited a scheduled troop withdrawal to a humiliating 2 percent of the West Bank, withheld tax money owed to the Palestinian Authority, and started construction on a large Israeli housing complex in East Jerusalem--all the time blaming the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has seized upon the latest bombings to cancel further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank, undoing what little is left of the Oslo agreement. With all this, Palestinian resistance has been inevitable. The Sept. 4 suicide bombing, according to a communique described in the New York Times the next day, was a response to Palestinian deaths last month from an Israeli rocket attack on the Lebanese city of Sidon, and to Israeli punitive actions in the West Bank.
The Israeli government and its bankrollers in Washington are responsible for the loss of life. U.S. and Israeli intransigence in Palestine and Lebanon leaves the Lebanese and Palestinian people no choice but to fight in whatever way they can. These policies kill Israelis as well as Arabs.
REPRESSION IS BACKFIRING But this cynical and imperialist policy is backfiring. The struggle of the oppressed continues. Even Israel's sophisticated U.S-supplied weaponry cannot stop Lebanese and Palestinian resistance. And Benjamin Netanyahu's promise of "peace with security" has certainly not materialized. Israelis are questioning the occupation of Lebanon and the destruction of the Oslo agreement. Some are putting the blame where it belongs. Nurit Peled-Eichanan, mother of 14-year-old Smadar killed in the Sept. 4 suicide bombing, blamed the Israeli government for her daughter's death. She described the Palestinian attacks as products of their continued oppression by the Israeli government. It is of note that Peled-Eichanan's father was an Israeli major general in Gaza. "I am angry, I am very angry to think that my government betrayed me. They sacrifice our children for their megalomania--for their need to control, oppress, dominate," she said. A representative of the Palestinian Authority attended her >daughter's funeral.
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Via Workers World News Service Reprinted from the September 18, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper (Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: > email@example.com. For subscription info send message to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: http://workers.org