JSalloum on 13 Oct 2000 22:19:46 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Antidotes 6 & 7

I realize there is a E. Europe focus/bias on this list but just in case there 
is anyone interested here are two articles on the current (3rd?) Intifada. 
One brief and energized the other longer and more meditative, both worth a 
read especially in contrast to the recent bull we have been receiving about 
the mid-east that is called 'news'.



                         Arab View 

          By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent 

 The Independent, London, 13 October 2000:

 This is a story about lies, bias, hatred and death. It's about our

 inability - after more than half a century - to understand the

 injustice of the Middle East. It's about a part of the world where

 it seems quite natural, after repeatedly watching on television

 the funeral of 11-year-old Sami Abu Jezar - who died two days

 after being shot through the forehead by Israeli soldiers - for a

 crowd to kick two Israeli plainclothes agents to death. It's

 about a nation that claims "purity of arms" but fires missiles at

 civilian apartment blocks and then claims it is "restoring

 order". It's about people who are so enraged by the killing of

 almost a hundred Palestinians that they try to blow up an

 entire American warship. 

 It's as simple as that. When I walked into the local photocopy

 shop yesterday afternoon, the boys there greeted me with

 ecstatic smiles. "Did you hear that an American ship has been

 attacked?" one of them asked. "There are Americans dead."

 All I saw around the room were smiles. In a corner, on a small

 television screen, an Israeli Apache aircraft was firing a

 missile at Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza. 

 Seven years ago, CNN showed us the Israeli prime minister

 shaking Yasser Arafat by the hand, live on the White House

 lawn. Now, live from Gaza, we watch a pilot carrying out an

 order from the Israeli prime minister to kill Arafat by bombing

 his headquarters. 

 As usual last night, the television news broadcasts - those

 most obsequious and deforming of information dispensers -

 were diverting our minds from the truth. They did not ask why

 the Palestinians should have lynched two Israeli undercover

 men. Instead, they asked why Palestinian police had not

 protected them. They did not ask why a suicide bomber in a

 rubber boat should have bombed the USS Cole. 

 Instead, they asked who he was, who he worked for, and they

 interviewed Pentagon officials who denounced "terrorism".

 Always the "who" or the "what"; never the "why". 

 It is of course possible that Osama bin Laden, one of the

 more recent American hate figures, could have inspired - by

 sermons rather than direct instruction - the attack on the USS

 Cole. Bin Laden's family originally came from Yemen. And it

 was Yemen that demanded the right earlier this week to fly

 arms direct to the Palestinians of the occupied territories -

 provoked, it seems, by slow-motion footage of yet another boy,

 a 12-year-old, dying on top of his father in Gaza after being

 shot by the Israelis. Yet many of the attacks on Israeli

 occupation forces in Lebanon were carried out by young men,

 unconnected with the corrupt Arab political Úlite but enraged

 by the injustice of their lot. Maybe it was the same in Yemen. 

 When Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo agreement seven years

 ago, only a very few asked how soon this raddled, flawed,

 hopeless "peace" would collapse. I thought it would end in

 violence because the Palestinians were being forced by

 Americans and Israelis to sign a peace that would give them

 neither a state nor an end to Jewish settlements on Arab land,

 nor a capital in Arab east Jerusalem. 

 I wrote that Arafat had been turned from "super-terrorist" into a

 "super-statesman" but could easily be turned into a

 "super-terrorist" again. And so it came to pass. Yesterday, the

 Israeli spokesman Avi Pasner shared a BBC interview with

 me - and called Arafat a "terrorist". 

 Alas, none of it was surprising - none save our continued

 inability to grasp what happens when a whole society is

 pressure-cooked to the point of explosion. A Pentagon official

 was saying last night the US government was trying to find out

 if the attack on the USS Cole was "related" to "violence" in the

 Middle East. Come again? Related? Violence? Who can

 doubt that the attempt to sink the Cole and all her 360

 American crew was directed at a nation now held responsible

 for Israel's killing of scores of Palestinian civilians? The

 United States - despite all the claptrap from Madeleine

 Albright about "honest brokers" - is Israel's ally. 

 Ever since Arafat tried to leave the US ambassador's

 residence in Paris two weeks ago, the Palestinians have

 placed this responsibility on America's shoulders. If the US

 wants to go on supporting an ally that shoots down

 Palestinians in the streets of the occupied territories, then the

 United States will be held to account. And will pay for it. 

 No, of course this does not excuse the bloodthirsty killing of

 armed Israeli agents or the desecration of the Tomb of

 Joseph in Nablus, or, indeed, the murder of Jewish settlers.

 But the cruelty of the Palestinians can be explained by the

 cruelty of the Israelis. The death toll among Palestinians now

 is almost exactly equal to that at Qana in 1996 when Israeli

 gunners butchered 106 Lebanese civilians. We called it a

 massacre. The Israelis said it was a mistake. True, it's

 scarcely 5 per cent of the death toll at the Sabra and Chatila

 refugee camps, when Israel's militia allies killed up to 2,000

 Palestinian civilians. We called that a massacre. Israel said

 this, too, was a mistake. Like they called the death of two

 12-year-old children and a seven-year-old child and Sami Abu

 Jezar a mistake. 

 And yesterday - with no institutional memory to guide them -

 journalists were taking at face value Israel's extraordinary

 claim that they fired "only at military targets", that the civilian

 population of Gaza had been "told to evacuate" the areas to be

 bombed. Do I not seem to remember how the Israelis said in

 1982 that in Lebanon they "only fired at military targets" - and

 left more than 17,000 civilians dead in two months? Do I not

 recall that the Israelis ordered the villagers of Mansouri to

 "evacuate" before they shelled it in 1996, then attacked their

 cars on the road and fired a missile into the back of an

 ambulance, killing four children and three women - the

 missile made, of course, by the Boeing company of America? 

 And was not the CIA supposed to be training the Palestinian

 policemen now being derided by Mr Pasner as "terrorists" (his

 own country having personally vetted which of them should

 carry arms)? And was not the United States the guarantor and

 broker of the disastrous Oslo agreement? So is it really

 surprising that the Palestinians - indeed, the Arabs - blame

 the United States for the tragedy unfolding in the Holy Land? 

 And is it any less surprising that the Israelis have now turned

 on the man w ith whom they thought they would conclude a

 peace that would turn "Palestine" into a Bantustan? The man

 who was supposed to "control" the Palestinians, who was

 supposed to lock up opponents of the "peace process" -

 whether they be peaceful or violent - is not doing what he was

 told. He walked out of Camp David because it was a

 surrender too far. So President Clinton blamed him for the

 conference's failure - on Israeli television, of all places - and

 ordered Arafat not to declare a state. Or else. 

 And now, when two US presidential contenders - Messrs

 Bush and Gore - try to out-do each other in their love and

 loyalty for Israel, can America comprehend what is


 I suppose it's the same old story. The Israelis only want

 peace. The unruly, riotous, murderous Palestinians - totally to

 blame for 95 of their own deaths - understand only violence. 

 That's what Israel's military spokesman said last night. Force,

 he said, "will be the only language they understand". Which is

 about as near to a declaration of war as you can get. 

Edward Said 

Thursday October 12, 2000 

Misreported and hopelessly flawed from the start, the 

Oslo peace process has entered its terminal phase - of 

violent confrontation, disproportionately massive 

Israeli repression, widespread Palestinian rebellion and 

great loss of life, the vast majority of it Palestinian. 

Ariel Sharon's visit to Haram al-Sharif on September 28 

could not have occurred without Ehud Barak's 

concurrence. How else could the paunchy old war criminal 

have appeared there with a thousand soldiers guarding 

him? Barak's approval rating rose from 20% to 50% after 

the visit, and the stage seems set for a national unity 

government ready to be still more violent and 


The portents of this disarray, however, were there from 

the 1993 start. Labour and Likud leaders alike made no 

secret of the fact that Oslo was designed to segregate 

the Palestinians in non-contiguous enclaves, surrounded 

by Israeli-controlled borders, with settlements and 

settlement roads punctuating and essentially violating 

the territories' integrity, expropriations and house 

demolitions proceeding inexorably through the Rabin, 

Peres, Netanyahu and Barak administrations along with 

the expansion and multiplication of settlements (200,000 

Israeli Jews added to Jerusalem, 200,000 more in Gaza 

and the West Bank), military occupation continuing and 

every tiny step taken toward Palestinian sovereignty - 

including agreements to withdraw in minuscule, agreed-

upon phases - stymied, delayed, cancelled at Israel's 


This method was politically and strategically absurd, 

even suicidal. Occupied East Jerusalem was placed out of 

bounds by a bellicose Israeli campaign to decree the 

intractably divided city off limits to Palestinians and 

to claim it as Israel's "eternal, undivided capital". 

The 4m Palestinian refugees - now the largest and 

longest existing such population anywhere - were told 

that they could forget about any idea of return or 


With his own corrupt and stupidly repressive regime 

supported both by Israel's Mossad and the CIA, Yasser 

Arafat continued to rely on US mediation, even though 

the US peace team was dominated by former Israeli lobby 

officials and a president whose ideas about the Middle 

East were those of a Christian fundamentalist Zionist 

with no exposure to or understanding of the Arab-Islamic 

world. Compliant, but isolated and unpopular Arab chiefs 

(especially Egypt's President Mubarak) were compelled 

humiliatingly to toe the American line, thereby further 

diminishing their eroded credibility at home. Israel's 

priorities were always put first, as was its bottomless 

insecurity and its preposterous demands. No attempt was 

made to address the fundamental injustice done when 

Palestinians as a people were dispossessed in 1948. 

Behind the peace process were two unchanging 

Israeli/American presuppositions, both of them derived 

from a startling incomprehension of reality. First was 

that given enough punishment and beating over the years 

since 1948, Palestinians would ultimately give up, 

accept the compromised compromises Arafat did in fact 

accept, and call the whole Palestinian cause off, 

thereafter excusing Israel for everything it has done. 

Thus, for example, the "peace process" gave no 

considered attention to immense Palestinian losses of 

land and goods, none to the links between past 

dislocation and present statelessness, while as a 

nuclear power with a formidable military, Israel 

nevertheless continued to claim the status of victim and 

demand restitution for genocidal anti-semitism in 

Europe. Incongruously, there has still been no official 

acknowledgement of Israel's (by now amply documented) 

responsibility for the tragedy of 1948, even as the US 

went to war in Iraq and Kosovo on behalf of other 

refugees. But one can't force people to forget, 

especially when the daily reality was seen by all Arabs 

as endlessly reproducing the original injustice. 

Second, after seven years of steadily worsening economic 

and social conditions for Palestinians everywhere, 

Israeli and US policymakers persisted (stupidly, I 

think) in trumpeting their successes, excluding the UN 

and other interested parties, bending the disgracefully 

partisan media to their wills, distorting the actuality 

into ephemeral victories for "peace". With the entire 

Arab world up in arms over Israeli helicopter gunships 

and heavy artillery demolishing Palestinian civilian 

buildings, with almost 100 fatalities and almost 2,000 

wounded (including many children) and with Palestinian 

Israelis up in arms against their treatment as third-

class, non-Jewish citizens, the misaligned and skewed 

status quo is falling apart. Isolated in the UN and 

unloved everywhere in the Arab world as Israel's 

unconditional champion, the US and its lame duck 

president have little to contribute any more. 

Neither does the Arab and Israeli leadership, even 

though they are likely to cobble together another 

interim agreement. Most shocking has been the total 

silence of the Zionist peace camp in the US, Europe and 

Israel. The slaughter of Palestinian youths goes on and 

this band of supposed peace-lovers either backs Israeli 

brutality or expresses disappointment at Palestinian 

ingratitude. Worst of all is the US media, completely 

cowed by the fearsome Israeli lobby, with commentators 

and anchors spinning distorted reports about "crossfire" 

and "Palestinian violence" that eliminate the fact that 

Israel is in military occupation and that Palestinians 

are fighting it, not "laying siege to Israel", as the 

ghastly Mrs Albright put it. While the US celebrates the 

Serbian people's victory over Slobodan Milosevic, 

Clinton and his minions refuse to see the Palestinian 

insurgency as the same kind of struggle against 


My guess is that some of the new Palestinian intifada is 

directed at Arafat, who has led his people astray with 

phony promises, and maintained a battery of corrupt 

officials holding down commercial monopolies even as 

they negotiate incompetently and weakly on his behalf. 

Some 60% of the public budget is disbursed by Arafat to 

bureaucracy and security, only 2% to the infrastructure. 

Three years ago his own accountants admitted to an 

annual $400m in disappeared funds. His international 

patrons accept this in the name of the "peace process", 

certainly the most hated phrase in the Palestinian 

lexicon today. 

An alternative peace plan and leadership is slowly 

emerging among Israeli, West Bank, Gaza and diaspora 

Palestinians. No return to the Oslo framework; no 

compromise on the original UN resolutions (242, 338, and 

194) "mandating the Madrid conference in 1991; removal 

of all settlements and military roads; evacuation of all 

the territories annexed or occupied in 1967; boycott of 

Israeli goods and services. A new sense may actually be 

dawning that only a mass movement against Israeli 

apartheid (similar to the South African variety) will 

work. Certainly it is sheer idiocy for Barak and 

Albright to hold Arafat responsible for what he no 

longer fully controls. Rather than dismissing the new 

framework being proposed, Israel's supporters would be 

wise to remember that the question of Palestine concerns 

an entire people, not an ageing and discredited leader. 

Besides, peace in Palestine/Israel can only be made 

between equals once the military occupation has ended. 

No Palestinian, not even Arafat, can really accept 

anything less. 

.Edward Said's book, The End of the Peace Process, will 

be published by Granta. 

Nettime-bold mailing list