Peace is Just a Word

                    by Raed Abu-Ghazaleh 10:52pm Mon Nov 20 '00

                              "We offered them peace yet those damn
                              Palestinians don't want it, and prefer violence
                              because they are 'violent' people" is what we
                              usually get out of the Israeli/American
                              statements justifying the eruption of the
                              Al-Aqsa Intifada. Yet this 'peace' that
                              Israel/US are calling for is not a just peace,
                              it's merely a front to a more advanced type
                              of imperialism that forces the Palestinian
                              people into submission and himiliation.

                    'Peace' is Just a Word

                    Throughout the recent Al-Aqsa Intifada in the West Bank and Gaza
                    Strip, we have heard all sorts of media distortion and Israeli
                    propaganda in the West, especially in the pro-Israeli (in media and
                    foreign policy) United States. Yet one of the most illogical and distorted
                    -in my opinion- is the claim that Palestinians do not want peace, are
                    'violent' in their nature, and would rather 'pressure' Israel to give them
                    what they want; such claims and implications we often hear and read in
                    US media.

                    Before trying to understand the Palestinians' resort to the recent
                    Al-Aqsa Intifada (uprise) and the previous Intifada (1987), we have to
                    understand the value of 'land' and 'home' to Palestinians. For an
                    American saying that (Richmond, Indiana) is my home, for example,
                    does not mean the same as for a Palestinian saying that (Nablus,
                    Palestine) is my home. A Palestinian family could live in the same house
                    for generations, with each new generation of the family inheriting it from
                    their fathers and ancestors. Even the name of the house or land
                    becomes attached to that family, such as 'Beit Al-Far', which means the
                    house of the Al-Far family, or 'Beit Rima', which is a whole village from
                    which the big family 'Rimawi' descends ('Rimawi' is extracted from
                    'Rima'). A main reason for this strong attachment is that many of the
                    lands used to be, and still are, farming lands which are passed on from
                    one generation to another within the family, and is often a main source
                    of living and pride.

                    Now coming back to the focus of the article, and keeping the land-
                    attachment concept in our minds, one has to draw distinction between
                    just peace and the Israeli/American idea of peace. Deep in their hearts,
                    Palestinians want all of their land back (historical Palestine), and want
                    the 'strangers' out of it. Such a claim comes from a mix of nationalistic
                    feelings and their universal legal rights to their lands and homes.
                    Nevertheless, Palestinians realize that their only way of living in peace is
                    to compromise, and to let go of their claim to the 70% of their land to
                    the 'stranger', Israel.

                    The current mainstream Palestinian demands are clear: (1) A just
                    settlement for the millions of Palestinian refugees, where there are more
                    Palestinians outside Palestine than inside. Israel refuses to accept
                    responsibility for the refugee problem till this day, despite the UN
                    Resolution 194 issued in 1948, which states that "...the [Palestinian]
                    refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their
                    neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date...
                    compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to
                    return." (2) Establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state
                    on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem being its capital.
                    The West Bank and Gaza Strip should not be divided, whether by
                    settlements or Israeli roads, as it is the case right now. This is such a big
                    compromise from Palestinians, since all of Jerusalem is considered
                    occupied land, and Israel is demanded to return all of Jerusalem back to
                    the Palestinians along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip according to
                    UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which Israel refuses to
                    accept and implement till this day. (3) The immediate release of the
                    several thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who have suffered
                    the worst types of brutalization and torture according to several human
                    rights organizations.

                    Despite the enormous amount of compromises that Palestinians have
                    made in exchange for peace, the Israeli/American idea of peace
                    according to the recent Camp David proposal is bluntly as follows: (1)
                    Concerning the refugees, Israel still "would not accept any legal or
                    civilian responsibility for their displacement", and suggests the return of
                    only 100,000 out of the current registered 3.2 million refugees, and
                    considers that a fulfillment of UN Res. 194. (2) Concerning the
                    Palestinian state, there would be so many restraints for it that it ceases
                    to become a state, such as "the state would not make alliances with
                    other countries without Israel's approval", or "Israel would retain
                    management over water sources in the West Bank while approving a
                    limited quota to the Palestinians." (3) Concerning Jerusalem, "Palestine
                    would obtain sovereignty over suburbs in the north and the south of
                    Jerusalem that would be annexed to the West Bank, including Abu
                    Dees, Alezariye and eastern Sawahre." These are not even parts of
                    Jerusalem, they are 'suburbs' and villages of Jerusalem, and legally Israel
                    is required to return all of Jerusalem back.

                    Therefore, this 'peace' that the Americans and Israelis and proposing is
                    a foul and unjust peace. Without even mentioning other central issues
                    such as settlements, and the increasingly diminishing size of the West
                    Bank, I would hope it has already become clear to the reader that the
                    Palestinians have compromised more than anyone would have in their
                    place, and that they genuinely want a just peace. Still, Israel rudely
                    insists that it has given the Palestinians more than ever in Camp David,
                    and that the Palestinians are not willing to 'compromise'. Still, the
                    Palestinians do not have the right to throw a rock or burn a tire or even
                    shoot a bullet, whenever possible, to express their objections and anger
                    (which would be ignored if expressed otherwise), and to get their
                    message through to the rest of the world. And still, the Palestinians are
                    accused of being 'violent', and not 'wanting peace'. This is not peace,
                    this is merely a label that America and Israel try to stick on what, to the
                    Palestinians, is utter humiliation and disgrace. Palestinians often describe
                    the American/Israeli idea of peace as 'rape', where they are forced to
                    accept it, yet if they object to it they'll immediately become 'violent',
                    'peace- rejecters' and even 'terrorists', not to mention exposing
                    themselves to the insanity of US-made Israeli tanks, anti-tank missiles
                    and Apache helicopters.

                    Rae'd Abu-Ghazaleh