2007: أسوأ من نظام التفرقة
أند جارديان - 7/6/2007
إن السفر عبر الضفة الغربية
وقطاع غزة يشبه إلى حد كبير رحلة
سريالية في دولة عنصرية تسودها
حالة من الطوارئ
2007: worse than apartheid
into Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza Strip, which I
visited recently, is like a surreal trip back into an
apartheid state of emergency.
is chilling to pass through the myriad checkpoints --
more than 500 in the West Bank. They are controlled by
heavily armed soldiers, youthful but grim, tensely
watching every movement, fingers on the trigger.
Fortunately for me, travelling in a South African
embassy vehicle with official documents and escort, the
delays were brief.
past the lines of Palestinians on foot or in taxis was
like a view of the silent, depressed pass- office queues
of South Africa’s past. A journey from one West Bank
town to another that could take 20 minutes by car now
takes seven hours for Palestinians, with manifold
indignities at the hands of teenage soldiers.
friend, peace activist Terry Boullata, has virtually
given up her teaching job. The monstrous apartheid wall
cuts off her East Jerusalem house from her school, which
was once across the road, and now takes an hour’s
journey. Yet she is better off than the farmers of
Qalqilya, whose once prosperous agricultural town is
totally surrounded by the wall and economically wasted.
There is only one gated entry point. The key is with the
occupation soldiers. Often they are not even there to
let anyone in or out.
too is totally enclosed by the wall, with two gated
entry points. The Israelis have added insult to injury
by plastering the entrances with giant scenic posters
welcoming tourists to Christ’s birthplace.
“security barrier”, as the Israeli’s term it, is
designed to crush the human spirit as much as to enclose
the Palestinians in ghettoes. Like a reptile, it
transforms its shape and cuts across agricultural lands
as a steel-and-wire barrier, with watchtowers, ditches,
patrol roads and alarm systems. It will be 700km long
and, at a height of 8m to 9m in places, dwarfs the
purpose of the barrier becomes clearest in open country.
Its route cuts huge swathes into the West Bank to
incorporate into Israel the illegal Jewish settlements
-- some of which are huge towns -- and annexes more and
more Palestinian territory.
Israelis claim the purpose of the wall is purely to keep
out terrorists. If that were the case, the Palestinians
argue, why has it not been built along the 1967 Green
Line border? One can only agree with the observation of
Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, who has stated:
“It has become abundantly clear that the wall and
checkpoints are principally aimed at advancing the
safety, convenience and comfort of settlers.”
West Bank, once 22% of historic Palestine, has shrunk to
perhaps 10% to 12% of living space for its inhabitants,
and is split into several fragments, including the
fertile Jordan Valley, which is a security preserve for
Jewish settlers and the Israeli Defence Force. Like the
Gaza Strip, the West Bank is effectively a hermetically
sealed prison. It is shocking to discover that certain
roads are barred to Palestinians and reserved for Jewish
settlers. I try in vain to recall anything quite as
obscene in apartheid South Africa.
provides a desolate landscape of poverty, grime and
bombed-out structures. Incon- gruously, we are able to
host South Africa’s Freedom Day reception in a
restaurant overlooking the splendid harbour and beach.
Gunfire rattles up and down the street, briefly
interrupting our proceedings, as some militia or other
celebrates news of the recovery from hospital of a
wounded comrade. Idle fishing boats bob in long lines in
the harbour, for times are bad. They are confined by
Israel to 3km of the coast and fishing is consequently
unproductive. Yet, somehow, the guests are provided with
a good feast in best Palestinian tradition.
are leaving through Tel Aviv airport and the Israeli
official catches my accent. “Are you South African?’
he asks in an unmistakable Gauteng accent. The young man
left Benoni as a child in 1985. “How’s Israel?” I
ask. “This is a f**ked-up place,” he laughs,
“I’m leaving for Australia soon.”
under?” I think. I’ve just been, like Alice, down
under into a surreal world that is infinitely worse than
apartheid. Within a few hours I am in Northern Ireland,
a guest at the swearing in of the Stormont power-sharing
government of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.
even PW Botha or Ariel Sharon were once as extreme as
Ian Paisley in his most riotous and bigoted days.
Ireland was under England’s boot for 800 years, South
Africa’s colonial-apartheid order lasted 350 years.
The Zionist colonial-settler project stems from the
1880s. The Israeli ruling class, corrupt and with no
vision, can no longer rule in the old way. The
Palestinians are not prepared to be suppressed any
longer. What is needed is Palestinian unity behind their
democratically elected national government, reinforced
by popular struggles of Palestinians and progressive
Israelis, supported by international solidarity.
Africa’s stated position is clear. The immediate
demands are recognition of the government of national
unity, the lifting of economic sanctions and blockade of
the Palestinian territories, an end to the 40-year-old
military occupation and resumption of negotiations for a
a final note, the invitation to Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh as head of a national unity government was
welcomed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and will be dealt
with by our government.
they say in Arabic: “Insha ’Allah [God-willing].”
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تعبر عن وجهة نظر المركز كلياً
من حق الزائر الكريم أن ينقل وأن ينشر كل ما يعجبه من موقعنا . معزواً إلينا ، أو غير معزو .ـ