Jerusalem, October 9, 2000
A Tragic Reversal: Madeleine Albright¹s View of Reality
By Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
Secretary-General, MIFTAH
PLC Member, Jerusalem

In her interview on NBC¹s ³Meet the Press² (Sunday, Oct. 8, 2000), US
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright represented the epitome of the willful
blindness, moral vacuum, human insensitivity, political cynicism, and
strategic ignorance that have characterized the US handling of the
Arab-Israeli ³peace process² and the Palestinian Question in particular.

When asked about the US abstention on the UN Security Council¹s Resolution
1233 deploring the [anonymous] ³provocation carried out at Al-Haram
Al-Sharif in Jerusalem on 28 September 2000² and condemning [also anonymous]
³acts of violence, especially the excessive use of force against
Palestinians,² Albright immediately waxed apologetic.

She was defensive not about diluting the text of the resolution and
eliminating any explicit reference to Israel¹s culpability, not about
abstaining when the US should have cast an affirmative vote in condemnation
of the horrific and tragic loss of Palestinian lives (mainly children), and
not about American passivity before the very visible crimes against humanity
that are being committed by Israel with impunity and arrogance.

Rather, Madam Albright expressed contrition at not casting a VETO on this
hesitant, apologetic, and inadequate expression by the international
community of minimal recognition of Palestinian humanity and suffering.

Why? Because the US wants to ³safeguard² its role as an ³even-handed peace
broker.²

To the Palestinians, this came as a complete surprise since the US has never
been even-handed or fair or even remotely human in its brokerage of the

peace process.

Given the chance to atone, however modestly, for such double standards and
bias, the US once again insists on failing the test of moral integrity and
humanity.

Worse yet, Madam Albright (and with a straight face) declares in a cold and
deliberate tone that the Palestinians have ³placed Israel under siege.²

I immediately assumed that she had confused her nouns, and that she had
inadvertently given the converse version of reality.

In the next breath, however, and with the same dead pan, expressionless,
emotionless, glazed look, Madam Albright repeated: ³Those Palestinian rock
throwers have placed Israel under siege,² adding that the Israeli army is
defending itself.

At the risk of tediousness and redundancy, it is appropriate to remind Madam
Albright of a few basic facts that may have escaped her notice:

It is Israel that is the belligerent occupant of Palestine (and not the
other way around).

Israeli tanks and armored vehicles are surrounding Palestinian villages,
camps and cities (and not the other way around).

Israeli (American made) Apache gun ships are firing Lau and other missiles
at Palestinian protestors and homes (and not the other way around).

It is Israel that is confiscating Palestinian land and importing Jewish
settlers to set up illegal armed settlements in the heart of Palestinian
territory (and not the other way around).

The settlers on the rampage in the West Bank are Israelis terrorizing
Palestinians in their own homes (and not the other way around).

The homes that are being demolished at the hands of the Israelis are
Palestinian homes (and not the other way around).

The armed soldiers and Special Forces at checkpoints throughout Palestine
are Israeli (and not the other way around).

The more than a hundred murdered civilians and thousands of injured are all
Palestinians being shot by Israeli occupation troops (and not the other way
around).

It is Israel that has closed down the Palestinian airport at Gaza thereby
preventing badly needed medical supplies from reaching the Palestinians (and
not the other way around).

The crossing points to and from Palestine as well as entrances and exits to
and from all Palestinian inhabited areas are manned and controlled by
Israeli soldiers who have completely prevented all freedom of movement (and
not the other way around).

To state the obvious once again, Madam Albright, Israel is committing
atrocities against the Palestinians with total impunity, and yet you
maintain ³Israel is besieged.²

To add insult to injury, you admonish the Palestinian leadership for not
ordering their people to ³stop the violence,² as though you¹re entirely
oblivious of the fact that all it takes is an order from Barak to his
³disciplined² occupation army to stop killing Palestinians.

No, we will not lie down and die in silence, even to accommodate you, Madam
Albright, for cold-blooded murder is not a phenomenon we condone.

May I suggest that the siege is in the minds of American officials and
apologists for Israel who willfully persist in blaming the victim, in
finding a false symmetry between occupier and occupied, in adopting a double
standard on the value of human lives and rights while totally dehumanizing
the Palestinians, in treating Israel as a country above the law and
Palestinians as a people not worthy of the protection of the law, in
manipulating and inventing a peace process that would accommodate such a
racist and stereotypical version of reality rather than a reality of justice
and evenhandedness, and in evading and distorting moral responsibility
towards the Palestinian victims rather than celebrating the violence of the
oppressor.

Granted, Madam Albright, Milosovic is a war criminal (despite the fact that
his army did not massacre the Serb opposition that brought about his
downfall), but what about Ariel Sharon and even your good friend Ehud Barak.
Whose blood is dripping from their hands?

Granted, Madam Albright, ³the people have spoken² in Yugoslavia, so why
don¹t you listen when the Palestinian people cry out for justice?

As a woman, a mother and grandmother, you surely understand the pain of
children and their parents when they get hurt; what about the agony of
senseless and brutal murder being visited on Palestinian children?

May I suggest, Madam Albright, that before you go on television before the
whole world to pontificate on issues Palestinian that you start by examining
the facts, and then start to examine your own conscience.