STOP SHARON'S STATE TERRORISM
By Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo and Edward Said
Carlos Fuentes is one of Latin America's most acclaimed novelists.
Juan Goytisolo is the Spanish writer. Edward Said, a prominent Palestinian
voice and critic of neocolonialism, is a professor of literature and comparative
studies at Columbia University.
LONDON -- That "stroll" through the area of Jerusalem's
mosques, surrounded by a thousand gun-toting police and soldiers, was
the most beneficial, strategic move of Ariel Sharon's career. After the
predictable start of the second intifada, it catapulted him into the leadership
position he had coveted ever since the failed occupation of Lebanon.
He is now the Israeli leader most favored by a people that feels increasingly
threatened by the hatred it generates and which trusts only in a recourse
to arms to put an end to Islamic terrorism.
In the name of a peace and security that recede as the Israeli steamroller
advances and the violence against the Palestinian people intensifies,
the man responsible for the massacres in Sabra and Chatila has released
the mechanisms of what can only be called state terrorism and reinforced
the apartheid regime in territories occupied during the Six Day War.
The multiplication and extension of the settlements of fanatically religious
supporters of a Greater Israel, the brutal revenge attacks, the selective
murders of leaders and agents suspected of anti-Israeli attacks, the collective
reprisals against entire townships, the eruption of assault troops and
tanks in the ghettos of the Gaza Strip and main cities of the West Bank
-- all these policies have created a spiral of violence inflamed by fresh
Palestinian attacks and Israeli responses that are disproportionate given
the abyss separating an ultra-modern army and undisciplined, Kalashnikov-bearing
After Sept. 11 the political decision-making process of the Israeli state
has been transformed into a mere transmission belt for the army. Israeli
democracy, described from its inception as the only one existing in the
Middle East, has seemingly dissolved into a lethal consensus for the military
Sharon and and his religious partisans dictate decisions to be taken,
preach infinite vengeance and worship as a dogma of faith the survival
of the fittest. When, pressured by circumstance -- the need to placate
public opinion in Muslim countries because of the war in Afghanistan --
U.S. President George W. Bush speaks of the creation of a Palestinian
state, an outraged Sharon compares the supposed abandonment of the Jewish
state to the surrendering of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis without a fight.
True to the barracks mentality dangerously infecting great swaths of Israeli
society, Sharon makes no distinction between Yasser Arafat and Osama bin
Recent military operations against the Palestinians -- "temporary
tenants," according to some extremist advocates of the Biblical Greater
Israel -- can only deepen hatred in abandoned communities whose security
nobody dares guarantee, communities deprived of the most basic rights
by an occupier who inflicts all manner of humiliations on a daily basis
and irrevocably confines them to barren "bantustans."
Though lesser in scale, the responsibility of the Palestinian National
Authority in this interminable process of physical destruction and moral
self-destruction is equally beyond question. The PLO lurched from its
maximalist demands of past decades, which demanded the disappearance of
the Jewish state, to peace agreements that fudged central issues and sowed
the seeds of the impasse we experience today.
Arafat never followed the paths traced by Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela:
His heated rhetoric was never transformed into concrete, reasonable proposals,
and it finally turned against him. His mini-government in Gaza has been
a sad model of corruption and arbitrary actions -- light years from the
democratic promises formulated during his period as a leader of the Third
Disillusioned, oppressed and hopeless before the future, Palestinian youths
packed into ghettos and refugee camps, under conditions harsher than those
of South Africa before the end of segregation, cling more and more to
the religious discourse of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, a perfect mirror
image of ultra-orthodox Zionist discourse. This is Sharon's victory: The
worse it gets, the better it gets.
When reason is abdicated and replaced by the bellicose creeds of opposing
religions, peace is impossible. The present head of the Israeli government
and his followers have worked night and day to cast out reason and impose
the logic of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Whether Sharon likes it or not the only basis for peace is respect for
international legality: the implementation of resolutions 242 and 338
of the United Nations requiring Israel to withdraw from the territories
occupied in 1967 -- East Jerusalem, Jordan, Gaza and the Golan Heights
-- and the signing of an agreement endorsed by the United States, the
European Union and Arab countries guaranteeing the security of Israel
and the existence of a viable Palestinian state.
To have peace, to live without hatred and desire for revenge, Israelis
and Palestinians must separate. The present imbrication of occupiers and
occupied only perpetuates mutual hatred and ferments a terrorism that
the blind arrogance of Sharon can never eliminate.
(c) 2001, Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune
For immediate release (Distributed 12/17/01)