June 28, 2008

Cry beloved Palestine

Posted in Israel-Palestine tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:24 pm by Mazin

Christopher Vasillopulos

IN his beautiful and profound novel, “Cry the Beloved Country”, Alan Paton wrote about the innumerable tragedies European imperialism implied for black and white South Africans. A powerful plea for reconciliation between the races, the oppressor and the oppressed, his beautiful book nevertheless told bitter truths about the brutal, racist regime and the often criminal and violent responses of the people it tyrannized. In the same spirit I offer this piece. It uses the same structure of a speech the murdered and martyred hero of the novel never lived to give.

It is permissible for the Jews to have claimed a homeland in Palestine. It is not permissible for them to have evicted hundreds of thousands of native Palestinians in the process. It is permissible for the Jews to have gathered up the refugees in camps. It is not permissible to have kept them, who now are five million, there in abominable conditions for as much as 60 years.

It is permissible for Israel to have defended itself against Arab attacks. It is not permissible for Israel to thereby confiscate all but 10-12 percent of Palestine.

It is permissible for Jews to use their influence and money to win support in the US and the UK for their objectives in Palestine. It is not permissible for Jews to label everyone who expresses sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians as anti-Semitic or Nazis. It is permissible for Israel to be a Jewish state. It is not permissible to pretend that it can be a Western-style democracy, when double standards based on Jewishness are built into the Basic Laws of the Israeli state. It is permissible for Israel to recruit Jews from around the world to immigrate: The Right of Return. It is not permissible for Israel to deny Palestinians the same right, especially since most of them were coercively exiled. It is permissible for Israel to subsidize Jewish immigrants. It is not permissible to settle them on Palestinian land. It is permissible to have occupied Palestinian territory in the wake of war. It is not permissible to continue to occupy Palestine indefinitely. It is permissible for Israel to defend itself against criminal and terrorist acts. It is not permissible to punish, maim, kill, torture, or terrorize the innocent in the process.

It is permissible to interrogate suspects and prisoners. It is not permissible to torture or imprison them without due process. It is permissible for Israel to regulate water, electricity, garbage collection and other essential services in the territories it controls. It is not permissible to suspend these services to punish Palestinians for alleged support of dissidents.

It is permissible for Israel to defend its borders (indistinct and unofficial as they are). It is not permissible to use border checks to harass or punish Palestinians. It is permissible for Israel to have defense forces. It is not permissible to use it as an aggressive, invading army.

It is permissible for Israel to have weapons of mass destruction, estimated at between 200-400 nuclear warheads. It is not permissible to deny their existence in an effort to deny deterrent capability to its neighbors.

It is permissible to consider Jerusalem, Hebron and other towns as religiously significant. It is not permissible to deny the same claims by Muslims or Christians. It is permissible for Jews to want to live in peace and security. It is not permissible to deny this possibility to Palestinians. It is permissible for Israel to exist. It is not permissible for Israel to deny this right to Palestinians.

Alan Paton died before his beloved country freed itself from colonial oppression. How many Palestinian “Alan Patons” will die before their beloved country will free itself from its oppressors?

— Dr. Christopher Vasillopulos is professor of political science and international relations at Eastern Connecticut State University.

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