Any knowledgeable observer of the Middle East knows Sharons ascendancy to power spells disaster for the most contentious region in the world.
Ariel Sharon, the former butcher of Lebanon, prevailed by declaring the Oslo peace process dead and promising to get tough with Palestinians. Israelis choice of Sharon proves what the Palestinians suspected all along–that the Israelis were never interested in peace.
Last summer, I studied at Birzeit University while living in Ramallah in the West Bank. I watched the humiliation of Israels occupation in the streets–soldiers checking identification and slapping Palestinians in the face for no reason–and realized why the Palestinians are filled with frustration and hopelessness.
The reality on the ground in the occupied territories is that two societies exist–one Israeli and the other Palestinian. The Israelis treat the Palestinians with hostility and cruelty, unscrupulously depriving them of their rights. To make matters worse, the Israelis have never acknowledged the Palestinians as a proud people with a past, but instead demonized the Palestinians and cast them as illegal usurpers of ancient Israel.
Sharons peace plan, in a manner befitting the Afrikaners of South Africa, calls for herding millions of Palestinians into a desert Bantustans on less than 42 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Sharon plans on surrounding these Palestinian enclaves with illegal Jewish settlements and maintaining them by brutal force.
The Palestinians response should come as no surprise, for if you lock a dog in a cage and beat him, the dog just gets meaner. So if you tell a Palestinian youth living in poverty and exile in a refugee camp that he has no right to exist, dont be shocked when he chooses to refuse by any means necessary–with stones, bullets, or whatever it takes–in order to secure his human rights. As my Palestinian classmates told me last summer, they would rather die defending their dignity and freedom than suffer the occupation like dogs at the hands of the Israelis.
Americans need to recognize that regardless of what the Old Testament might have said, the Palestinians have an equal and justifiable claim upon Palestine (but one that no one is willing to recognize). The Palestinian question is in the end, a question of justice. Yet this noble principle is forgotten when dealing with the Palestinians.
The Oslo Accords took from the Palestinian everything and offered them nothing in return. Palestinians simply want to be treated like human beings, and should not be blamed for refusing to accept the intolerable. It is time to recognize who the real victims of the conflict are, and start dealing fairly with the Palestinians.
It is time to recognize who the real victims of the conflict are, and start dealing fairly with the Palestinians.
Mr. Jefferson Fletcher is a student at University of Arkansas in King Fahd Middle East Studies Program. He has traveled to Middle East.