The Palestinians, Europe and what everyone knows

Tariq Ramadan

Posted May 4, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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The Palestinians, Europe and what everyone knows

by Tariq Ramadan

What has changed? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

The latest decision by the European Union to put conditions on assistance to the Palestinian authority is neither a surprise nor a political turnaround. Europe continues to bend in the face of US injunctions, while its policies in the Middle East remain driven by fear, over cautiousness and hypocrisy.

For the last sixty years, one manipulates, one lies and one deceives. Today, one imposes three conditions on the Palestinian Authority in the name of same United Nations resolutions or international law that successive Israeli governments have never ceased to mock, neglect and infringe upon. In the corridors of Washington or Brussels, everyone knows, everyone is silent.

Most recently, one even went to the extent of pretending to believe in the good intentions of Ariel Sharon’s government “working for peace.” They accepted the outright lies that followed the “agreements” of Sharm al-Shaykh with the “historical retreat” of Gaza and the unilateral commitment “for peace.” One pretended to believe this was all about agreements without setting the scene, all with the intention of gaining time. In the contrived jubilation, and in the floodlights of cameras, one pretended to think that Gaza had been liberated whereas Israel installed other colonies elsewhere, on twice and a half more land than it had originally restored. One pretended to believe in the peaceful intentions of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (for whom the Palestinians, then Arafat, then Abû Mâzen, then the Palestinians were not reliable partners) who, with his new “moderate party”, and now his successor, “built” a unilateral peace drawn here by an odious Bantustan, and there, by an inhuman “prison wall” on almost 19% of Palestinian territory. Beautiful peace, indeed. In the corridors of Washington and Brussels, everyone knows, everyone keeps silent.

Nothing has changed. The trap of electoral transparency has neatly closed in again on a people to whom the last sixty years of history has only clarified the extreme cynicism and deep fear of the European political class. Here are these people who have made a “bad democratic choice” - they will most certainly receive humanitarian assistance but nothing for the elected Palestinian Authority who will have to comprehend and apply United Nations resolutions and International law. Despite the fact that the Israeli wall is built by transgressing these same resolutions, despite the fact that political assassinations and summary executions perpetrated by the Tel Aviv government go against these resolutions, and despite the fact that the multiplication of settlement colonies completely break these same laws… it doesn’t matter!

The Israeli democracy is worthy of respect and subject to absolutely no conditions, even though it has been directed for so long by women and men who themselves have either been assassins or have directly assisted with massacres (as was the case with Sharon in Sabra and Shatila). On the contrary, it is Israel who imposes its conditions on the United States as well as Europe. And all of this with the arrogance of an innate, absolute and sovereign right. In the corridors of Washington or Brussels, everyone knows, everyone keeps silent.

Nothing has changed. Yesterday, Europe made a decision that reflects its policy towards the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is also perhaps the only file in which there appears to exist the pretence of “a European foreign policy”. But this case is sad, worrying and, in the end, revolting. The fear that paralyzes the European politicians vis-à-vis the State of Israel and the power of certain Zionist lobbies is truly shocking. Does the love of power and fear of losing it create such blindness to the point of blocking the human conscience to the daily horrors undergone by the Palestinians? Who would pretend to have faith in any type of political ethics? Who are those, and which kind of political courage distinguishes them, who almost apologised three years ago because the Europeans stated (in an anonymous survey) that Israël was the country which most threatened world peace. Like usual, though, in the corridors Washington or Brussels, everyone knows it, everyone keeps silent.

Will one ever see the day when politicians who are just a little honest, a little courageous… who will finally dare to say what the world knows? Perhaps this will be the duty of the people to elect them? The road is long but in the face of all the hypocrisy and ever-present cynicism, it is at least necessary to consciously decide not to keep quiet. Never. The dignity of the Palestinians is to resist, ours is to denounce. If we want less violence, we must “unilaterally” break the silence. That means denouncing fears as much as the unjust and wretched policies which continue to kill an entire people in an occupied territory, bloodless, in open-air prisons, in the sight of all and known to all.

As I write these lines, a bomb falls down every five minutes on Gaza and kills and terrorizes thousands of children and an entire people. Perhaps these bombs are a teaching tool used to instruct the Palestinians the palpable consequences of the “right democratic choices” of Israel that the United States and the Europeans support in the name of a selective international law. Beautiful lesson, beautiful future of peace. Beautiful lies, beautiful joke. Colonized by fear and an accessory to its collective resignation, the European political community does not cease in bending under the US diktats, the power of Israel and its subsequent lobbies. In the corridors of Brussels, everyone knows it, everyone is silent.

The Palestinians will continue to suffer. And there is no question about ceasing to criticize each and every unjust political decision which hope to blind to the horrors and does not lead to a just peace. In the end, it is the European majority who have it right in the face of an increasingly loose political class. Israel is very much today the country that is putting the peace of this world in the most danger. And in the corridors of Washington and Brussels and all the way to Tel Aviv, everyone knows it.

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