Jenin, War Crimes, and the Necessity of a Palestinian State
- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On May 1, 2002
- 0 Comments
Published in WPI Briefing
May 1, 2002
The Israeli government has refused to cooperate with a UN inquiry into its offensive at the Jenin refugee camp unless certain conditions are met: that military and terrorism experts be made full members of the investigating team, the Israeli government decide who the investigators can talk to and which documents it can review, that the investigation should not reach any conclusions, evidence gathered cannot be used in any war crimes prosecution and that the UN team must also examine the activities of Palestinian terrorists in the camp over recent months. These conditions effectively end any prospect for an investigation for now. The stench of rotting bodies, razed buildings – many bulldozed with people trapped in them, eye witness reports of mass graves and extra-judicial executions, as well as the use of people as human shields and the obstruction of ambulances reaching the wounded and dying are, however, indicative of a massacre and war crime. Jenin, though, is only one of the many crimes committed by the Israeli government against the people of Palestine over decades.
The Israeli government insists that the invasion of the refugee camp in Jenin and its re-occupation of the Palestinian territories are retaliations against suicide bombings, self-defence and part of its war on terrorism. The heavy death toll of women, children and elderly, the collective punishment of all boys and men aged 14 to 40, the siege on Yasser Arafat’s headquarters, extensive destruction of civil infrastructure and the re-occupation of Palestinian territories contradict this claim. While Palestinian resistance has many forms and is often violent, it is incomparable to the violence of the full war machinery of the Israeli government. Stone-throwing children are not equal to an occupying army. Of course, the violence of vile Islamic terrorist groups on Israeli citizens is equally condemned. Otherwise, regarding the case and cause of the Palestinians, people all over the world know that the violence of the oppressor and occupier are not the same as the violence of the oppressed and occupied. Besides, the terrorist groups are not the real faces of Palestinian resistance. In fact, more than being a product of Palestinian resistance, these groups are a product of Israeli occupation and political Islam. It is the Israeli government that is helping to reproduce Islamic terrorism. After the collapse of the Taliban, political Islam had been seriously weakened. The Israeli reoccupation of Palestine is helping this reactionary movement to rear its ugly head once more. Before the re-occupation, Islamic groups were having problems recruiting in the Palestinian territories (and were forced to recruit from elsewhere). Also, they would not be able to survive without funding from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Islamic states, which have hijacked the Palestinian issue for their own political gains. In fact, reactionary Islamic groups are portrayed as the main Palestinian resistance in order to justify the carnage and onslaught on the people of Palestine.
Since the Israeli government’s policies are assisting in the reproduction of Islamic terrorism, the real reasons behind the current re-occupation and assault are not a war on terrorism, but rather another attempt by the Israeli government to completely derail the peace process and obstruct the establishment of a Palestinian state. The assault on Jenin was part of Operation Defensive Shield, a plan that had long lain on Sharon’s desk and was activated due to the post-September 11 climate. Sharon and his Right-wing administration consider the West Bank and Gaza part of a Greater Israel, which is why they have incessantly impeded the peace process, disregarded agreements and continued to build 170 colonies (known as settlements) with 300 miles of roads connecting them to each other. Some weeks ago, in the Knesset, Sharon expanded the government to include the ultra-Right National Religious Party. He also stated that Israel would withdraw to buffer zones, negotiate with a ‘responsible’ Palestinian leadership and seek a long-term interim agreement – basically ending any possibility for the establishment of a Palestinian state even in the long-term. All these facts reveal that Sharon and the Israeli government are not fighting a war on terrorism; they are aiming to bring Palestinians to their knees and to end hopes for a Palestinian state.
The Israeli government’s atrocities are being met with widespread opposition and resistance not only in the Palestinian territories but throughout the world. This must continue until Israel is forced to back down. International pressure must focus on both Israel and the USA governments since the USA is directly complicit in Israeli atrocities. The USA government gives the Israeli government 3 billion dollars in aid annually. In mid-April, during the re-occupation and reports of a massacre in Jenin, the US government approved an extra 200 million dollars for emergency counter terrorism measures. Both governments therefore must face extensive political pressure. While some on the Left are calling for an economic boycott of Israeli products, a political boycott is the only means by which to put real pressure. A political problem requires a political solution. This political pressure takes many forms, including putting pressure on Western governments to end political relations with the Israeli government through strengthening a mass secular movement in the West and Arab countries. Demands for a secular movement in the West will help the secular movement in the Middle East as well. At a minimum, the protests must condemn Israeli state and Islamic terrorism and call for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli government from the occupied territories and for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian state must be one of equal footing to Israel and not a Bantustan like those created by the former South African apartheid regime. The protests must focus on these demands and remain secular at all costs. While this is the case in many countries around the world, the protests in the UK have been hijacked by Islamists, thanks to the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Stop the War Coalition. While the protest movement is being portrayed as a Muslim vs. Jewish issue, it is in fact a human issue that is of concern to all. Only a secular movement can include all who sincerely care about the Palestinian and Israeli people’s peace and security and isolate Islamists and racists. Anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments are not acceptable in a progressive social movement. Those espousing such views belong in the ranks of Nazi fascists and not a movement for social justice. Yet any criticism is not necessarily anti-Semitic and Anti-Muslim. Condemning vile Islamic terrorist groups and governments is being deemed Islamophobia in this day and age. There is a huge difference between anti-Muslim sentiment and condemning religion, political Islam and Islamic groups. Likewise, the Israeli government is labelling its critics, anti-Semites; for examples, Israeli politicians have said that the calls for an investigation into Jenin are part of a rising tide of global anti-Semitism. These are calculated attempts by both sides to silence any opposition to Israeli and Islamic fascism.
The establishment of a Palestinian state is truly a historical necessity of our times. While the Israeli and USA governments are trying hard to prevent its creation, they will eventually be forced to succumb. A secular, resolute and progressive international movement can ensure that this becomes a reality sooner rather than later.