The following letter was written to Vic Alhadeff from Jewish Board of Deputies following his interview on SBS radio Arabic on Monday 16th April. Podcast of interview is available
I listened to your interview on Monday morning on the SBS Arabic program. The interview highlighted some issues that the Arabic community know very well and your interview doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation. Here is my response to your interview.
All the Palestinians in the West Bank are not under the control of the PA. Recently the PA president, Mr Abbas, has been told that he needs to renew his travel permit every year and some reports suggested that he needs to do it every 2 months. Just in case you don’t know what a ‘travel permit’, it is a document issued to every Palestinian who wishes to travel within or out of the Israeli occupied territories. The President is not excempted. This gives you an idea how free the Palestinians are under the Israeli occupation. Israeli occupation army doesn’t recognise the authority of the PA and still carries incursions into areas designated under the PA control.
The Palestinian economy is under the mercy of the Israeli occupation. It is not an independent economy as you suggested in your interveiw. Nothing goes in or out of the occupied territories without the Israeli occupied army’s permission and this is not an automatic permit. The checkpoints play a very important role in hindering and frustrating any effort to have a viable and sound Palestinian economy. Workers and products are un-necessarily delayed at the checkpoints. Obtaining permits is not an easy task and there is no guarantee that the permit will be respected by Israeli occupation soldiers at the checkpoints. The Palestinians don’t have currency of their own and they deal with the Israeli shekel. The water distribution is also a factor where Israel controls all the water in the occupied West Bank and no new wells are permitted. Everytime there is an Israeli army incursion, the Palestinian infra structures are on top of thehit list of targets to keep the Palestinians dependent on the Israeli products and services. In the attack on Gaza in 2009, Israeli air force destroyed bridges, roads, factories, farms including chicken farm, water supplies, power generators and stations, university of Gaza and UN stores. The Palestinian economy is heavily reliant on foreign aid and even that is not enough to keep it going considering that many projects have been destroyed by the Israeli occupation army. Land grab by settlers and the Israeli occupation army is another factor in depriving the Palestinian economy from a source of employment and income. Palestinians are subjected to higher taxes than the Israelis.
About the ‘generous offers’ by various Israeli governments. I am yet to see one Israeli map outlining one single generous offer. I would love to receive one from you so I know what you are talking about.
Jeusalem – I don’t ever recall any Israeli Prime Minister who ever offered to internationalise Jerusalem, yet I heard you saying it in the interview. Every Israeli prime minister stated that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and it will never be divided again. This is in complete contradiction to your statement about Israel willingness to internationalise Jerusalem. The current house demolition, of Palestinians, is about creating an absolute majority of Jews in Jerusalem with eventually zero Palestinian presence. I would like to ask you to send me a copy or a reference of this offer.
Gaza – I fully agree with you that Israel withdrew its occupation army and vacated the illegal settlements in Gaza. I also heard you say that Israel practices a policy of “restricted movements”. I like your use of soft language in describing the most brutal imprisonment and collective punishment of 1.5 million people. Restricted movements translates into not allowing anyone or anything in or out for any reason including medical treatments. Not only movements are restricted, they are subjected to daily attacks including cold blooded murder of Palestinians by drones operated by Israeli kids behind a computer. Palestinian fishermen are shot at daily by the Israeli navy. Israel is in full control of Gaza as well as of the West Bank. All border crossings into Gaza and the West Bank are under Israeli control and the Israeli occupation army has the final say on who/what gets in and who/what goes out.
Hamas did not invent the rockets and the shelling of cities full of civilians. I lived in Irbed, north of Jordan. Irbed used to be shelled daily by the Israeli army. 3 of my school mates were killed while sitting for the High School Certificate. The city wasn’t safe enough for the students and we had to sit for our HSC exams in a nearby city. I used to walk to school in the morning with pieces of flesh and blood of victims from the Israeli shelling. We lived in bomb shelters for months because of the Israeli shelling. I witnessed my own brother hit by one of the Israeli rockets.
You call Hamas a terrorist organisation, yet most Israeli prime ministers and many of the Israeli ministers were members of the Haganah, Stern and Irgun terrorist groups prior to 1948. I don’t accept violence of any sort, however, I don’t distinguish between a suicide bomber and an Israeli F16 pilot, both kill people with one difference, the pilot keeping coming back to kill more. Click on this link http://guardian.150m.com/palestine/jewish-terrorism.htm for samples of some of the atrocities committed by the gangs. By the way, Ariel Sharon started his fighting career at the age of 14 years, a child fighter.
You mentioned that Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel. I wonder what the Israeli Constitution says about the Palestinians. Actually the Palestinians are not mentioned at all and don’t exist as far as Israeli Constitution is concerned. I keep on scratching my head as to why Israel is insisting on being recognised by a group that Israel doesn’t recognise? We are told and being reminded that Israel is a civilised and democratic country, why not show us the civilised and democratic way of dealing with conflicts between neighbours!!! Let Israel be a model for Hamas and the PA to follow.
BDS – I wonder when the last time you bought a Palestinian made product in Sydney or during your many visits to Israel. Noam Chomsky and his daughter were prevented from entering Israel because he was invited to give talk in the West Bank. Many pro-Palesinians academics were punished and lost their jobs because of their views. Many peace activists are now being prevented from entering the occupied territories because of their views. Israel doesn’t and won’t tolerate pro-Palestinian view. Don’t you think this is one example of a BDS Israeli style? Jewish leaders in Palestine (pre 1948) boycotted all Palestinian products and ensured that Jews bought only Jewish made products. Israelis have practiced this form of boycott ever since the establishment of Israel and it is as invisible as the Israeli occupation.
Apartheid – Palestinians don’t have to experience the same treatment of the black population of South Africa to label the Israeli treatment of them as apartheid. Apartheid is a system that separates the different peoples living in a country and gives one group of people privileges which are not available to others. Israeli apartheid is not about whites vs blacks as it was in South Africa. Israelis don’t have to queue at the checkpoints and they don’t have checkpoints within their areas. Israelis have unlimited water supplies that is denied to the Palestinians. Israelis drive on roads for Jews only. Israelis don’t have to be interrogated for hours at Israeli airports coming in or leaving Israel. Jewish members of Knesset can meet with anyone they wished, yet Palestinian members are labelled traitors if they do and are threatened with legal action and some have been charged with treason. Palestinians can’t buy land anywhere they wished in Israel, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4111915.stm the Kaadan case is one example. Israeli authorities spend far less on services in the Palestinian areas than they do in the Jewish areas. Jewish worshippers don’t need a permit to visit any religious site, Palestinians do need a permit. Jewish graves are well preserved and respected, entire Palestinian cemeteries have been demolished and disappeared. If this is not apartheid, I don’t know what is?
Dear Vic, the world is asked to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust. Don’t you think it is time that Israel also acknowledges the pain and suffering of the Palestinian people and work towards the establishment of a Palestinian State?