THE TIME has come to redefine the conceptual context in which the plight of Palestinians is perceived. The Palestinians' violent rejection of the far-reaching 2000 Camp David initiative underscores that the chances of reaching a political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are highly remote – if not totally negligible. However, if the Palestinian problem seems insoluble in the political context, it may well be eminently soluble in other contexts – namely the humanitarian one.
"Once upon a time, in a country called South Africa the color of your skin determined where you lived, what jobs you were allowed, and whether you could vote or not…Today, in a country called Saudi Arabia it is gender rather than racial apartheid that is the evil but the international community watches quietly and does nothing." Mona Eltahawy, International Herald Tribune . Nov. 29, 2007
RACISM claims superiority, while Zionism merely claims distinctiveness. Racism seeks the persecution of powerless groups, while Zionism seeks to protect the members of a group long persecuted. Racism seeks to degrade its victims, while Zionism seeks to protect those who have been victims of degradation. To denounce Zionism as racism is to question the Jewish people's right to national existence and freedom and to deny to it the right accorded to every other people on the face of the globe. Zionism thus reflects no more the aspiration of the Jews to equality with the other nations of the world. Consequently, rather than an expression of racism, Zionism is a response to racism.
NOWHERE is UN's most egregious fault – placing politics before humanitarian goals – more visible than in the case of UNRWA, the UN agency dedicated solely to caring for Palestinian Arab refugees. Palestinian refugees – unlike all refugee groups on the face of the globe - enjoy exclusive support of their very own UN agency. Over the years it has become clear that UNRWA is a body that perpetuates the very problem it was designed to eliminate.
LIFE in Bethlehem has become insufferable for many members of the dwindling Christian minority. Increasing Muslim-Christian tensions have left some Christians reluctant to celebrate Christmas in the town at the heart of the story of Christ's birth.
Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said after a visit to the Holy Land in 1993: "My fear is that … Bethlehem – once [a] centre … of a strong Christian presence – might become a kind of Walt Disney Christian theme park." His vision of the birthplace of the Christian religion becoming a place where outsiders tend the shrines for the sake of visiting pilgrims only is becoming more a reality with each celebration of Christ's birth.
It is often forgotten – or ignored – that the Sharon government’s “Disengagement” involved not only the unilateral evacuation of Gaza but also of large tracts of land in Northern Samaria, immediately adjacent to vital strategic installations and major population centers in the coastal plain. The accompanying photograph was taken with an ordinary camera from the site of Homesh, a Jewish settlement in Northern Samaria destroyed during the 2005 “Disengagement” of the Sharon government. It shows clearly – indeed dramatically – the Hadera power station (one of the biggest in the country, situated midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa), together with nearby residential areas, lying exposed and vulnerable on the Mediterranean coast immediately below
This is a view of Greater Tel Aviv from the slopes of the Samarian Hills in the “West Bank” – which the
Government of Israel intends to transfer to Palestinian rule. This is how exposed and vulnerable the entire Dan metropolitan area – the most populous urban area of the country – will be to the whims of any regime that takes control of the territory that the Government of Israel intends to hand over for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The dangers entailed in such a measure are no longer a matter of theoretical speculation or hypothetical assessment. Today we are faced with very tangible precedents which lead to conclusions that it wouldbe perilous to ignore.