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We are including here two important articles: a very recent, from-the-scene
report from Bethlehem as well as a piece by Lev Grinberg analyzing the
difference between state terrorism and individual terrorism.
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Cynthia Peters, Tim Allen, Justin Podur, Stephen R. Shalom
Report From Bethlehem
By Kristin Schurr
Last night, 30 March 2002, 20 of us stayed in Al Azzeh refugee camp of 5,000 inside of
Bethlehem with several families expecting an invasion by the Israeli military. We went
two to a house. There is no land to build on, so any new homes are built atop existing
ones. At the house I stayed in, we watched Arfat on television most of the night
giving a press conference inside his compound in Ramallah. At 10pm he was given one
hour to surrender by Israeli military or they would go in shooting. This has not yet
happened and he has said he will not go alive.
Television stations showed five dead, shot at point blank range inside Arafat's
compound. The family I was with stays up most of the night and sleeps during the
morning daylight hours. The shooting at nights requires them to quickly move from one
room to the next, and to always be ready. They do not jump when they hear the popping
of F-16s. They simply get up and move as the noise becomes louder.
There was a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The bomber was from Nablus, which is further
north from Bethlehem. The families inside of Al Azzeh refugee camp expected Israeli
military to invade the camp and disappear all of the men aged 16 to 50 years old.
Israeli snipers continued to fire into the camp throughout the night. They fired at
Palestinians and internationals alike as we scurried across roads to get inside of the
houses, which are litered with bullet holes. Many of the windows are protected by bags
of sand. We met the mother of a 14 year old Palestinian girl who was shot by Israeli
snipers as she opened the front door of her house inside the camp two weeks ago. I was
expected to address a conference at Columbia University in NYC via telephone at 3:30
am Palestinian time, but my cel phone was unable to function.
All international media has been asked to leave Bethlehem. Now the Palestinian people
need all people from around the globe as much as ever. I write this quickly to you all
from Dehesha refugee camp because invasion of Bethlehem is now imminent. It is
expected within the next two hours. It is now 1:30 pm. We are told that if Arafat is
assasinated the Israeli military will fully re-occupy the entire West Bank, of which
Bethlehem is a part. We will return to Al Azzeh camp within the hour to stand in
solidarity with our Palestinian families as the invasion unfolds. Yesterday Beit Jala,
the town without lights at night that stands across the valley from an Israel
settlement fully lit conected by a bridge that only Israelis are allowed to use, was
invaded in order to be at the highest point surrounding Bethlehem. Parts of Beit Jala
are under curfew. It is still impossible to get to Ramallah, where Palestinians and
internationals are asking for assistance. Some are blocking tanks, others defied the
curfew by donating blood. As here in Be
thlehem, in Ramallah internationals are also riding along inside of ambulences.
We are here in solidarity with the Palestinian peoplein order to bring attention to
the brutal military occupation, sanctions, killings, and daily humiliation
Palestinians face at the hands of Israeli military and government.
Bethelehem, according to those who live there, is virtually deserted. Streets that
once swarmed with life are mostly shut down now. All schools are evacuated. Teachers
say they are not afraid. Many Palestinians say all they have left is their will.
We have been thanked and fed and described as peace prophets. Our presence is
necessary and deeply appreciated. We request that as many of you who receive this help
in any way you can. I can only ask that we all please raise awarness of this
situation, work on divestment campaigns, and tell Bush and the US government that
their funding of the Israeli military is a terrorist atrocity which must not be stood
for. We will update you as much as possible.
Thank you so much for your caring and interest. A suicide bomber has just hit Haifa,
which is about 90 km from Tel Aviv.
Bethlehem, Palestine 31 March 2002
Israel's State Terrorism
By Lev Grinberg
What is the difference between State terrorism and individual terrorist acts? If we
understand this difference we'll understand also the evilness of the US policies in
the Middle East and the forthcoming disasters. When Yassir Arafat was put under siege
in his offices and kept hostage by the Israeli occupation forces, he was constantly
pressed into condemning terror and combatting terrorism. Israel's State-terrorism is
defined by US officials as "self-defense", while individual suicide bombers are called
The only small difference is that Israeli aggression is the direct responsibility of
Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz, while the individual
terrorist acts are done by individuals in despair, usually against Arafat's will. One
hour after Arafat declared his support of a cease fire and wished the Jews a Happy
Passover feast, a suicide bomber exploded himself in an hotel in Netanya, killing 22
innocent Jews celebrating Passover. Arafat was blamed as responsible for this act, and
the present IDF offensive has been justified through this accusation.
At the same time, Sharon's responsibility for Israeli war crimes is being completely
ignored. Who should be arrested for the targeted killing of almost 100 Palestinians?
Who will be sent to jail for the killing of more than 120 Palestinian paramedics? Who
will be sentenced for the killing of more than 1,200 Palestinians and for the
collective punishment of more than 3,000,000 civilians during the last 18 months? And
who will face the International Tribunal for the illegal settlement of occupied
Palestinian Lands, and the disobedience of UN decisions for more than 35 years?
Suicide bombs killing innocent citizens must be unequivocally condemned; they are
immoral acts, and their perpetrators should be sent to jail. But they cannot be
compared to State terrorism carried out by the Israeli Government. The former are
individual acts of despair of a people that sees no future, vastly ignored by an
unfair and distorted international public opinion. The latter are cold and "rational"
decisions of a State and a military apparatus of occupation, well equipped, financed
and backed by the only superpower in the world.
Yet in the public debate, State terrorism and individual suicide bombs are not even
considered as comparable cases of terrorism. The State terror and war crimes
perpetrated by the Israeli Government are legitimized as "self-defense", while Arafat,
even under siege, is demanded to arrest "terrorists."
I want to ask: Who will arrest Sharon, the person directly responsible for the orders
to kill Palestinians? When is he going to be defined a terrorist too? How long will
the world ignore the Palestinian cry that all they want is freedom and independence?
When will it stop neglecting the fact that the goal of the Israeli Government is not
security, but the continued occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people? As
Israelis in the opposition, we are fighting against our government, but the
international support that Sharon receives is constantly jeopardizing our struggle.
The whole international public opinion must be reverted, and the UN must deploy
intervention forces in order to stop the bloodshed and the imminent deterioration.
Israelis and Palestinians desperately need the awakening of the international
community's public opinion and a reversal in the global attitude. These are needed
both in order to save our lives (literally), and preserve our hope in a better future.
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