From: Ismail Zayid
Sent: Friday, December 01, 2000 3:40 PM
Subject: Column distorts Mideast picture
Friday, December 1, 2000 Back The Halifax Herald Limited
Column distorts Mideast picture
By Ismail Zayid
WE ARE stunned that you would publish such a diatribe from William Safire of The New York Times ("Arafat’s ‘war process,’ " Nov. 21). We believe your readers deserve better than that.
He speaks of the Lebanese as terrorists kidnapping three Israeli soldiers from "what Israel considers its territory." This territory where the soldiers were kidnapped is Lebanese territory illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.
He refers to "Israel’s troops pulled out of its Lebanese buffer zone." This Lebanese territory has been under illegal Israeli occupation since 1978, in defiance of international law and Security Council resolutions. The Israeli pullout was not a gracious act, but was thanks to the heroic resistance of Hezbollah and other Lebanese resistance fighters, who forced Israel out.
We are told that this kidnapping of soldiers occupying Lebanese territory is a terrorist act. Mr. Safire omits to speak of the real terrorism when Israel marches into Lebanese villages and kidnaps some of their religious leaders like Abdelkarim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, who remain for years, and to this day, in Israeli jails, together with 17 other Lebanese held hostage, with no charge or trial.
Mr. Safire speaks of Palestinians sacrificing their children for the sake of propaganda. This is offensive and in the poorest of taste. Palestinian parents love their children, and it is the viciousness of an army that directs its bullets at these children that has been condemned by Amnesty International and Israeli human rights groups.
The Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem have been under the most oppressive occupation for 33 years. They have been brutalized, tortured, humiliated and dehumanized. They have seen their land expropriated, for the creation of illegal Jewish settlements, and thousands of their homes demolished. This has driven them to demonstrate and resist, as it is the recognized right of all peoples, including even the Palestinians, to resist foreign occupation.
He speaks of "Barak’s stunning concessions." This is truly remarkable. Barak is offering Arafat and the Palestinians to live in multiple small ghettos or bantustans surrounded by Israeli army and settlers, who control their livelihood and existence. The Palestinians want no concessions from Barak or Safire. What they are calling for is for Israel to withdraw completely from the illegally occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and dismantle all settlements, in compliance with international law and Security Council resolutions, so that they may create their own truly independent state on merely 22 per cent of historic Palestine.
The question that continues to baffle us is: How long must Israel remain above international law?
Ismail Zayid, MD, is president, Canada Palestine Association.