Hasan Afif El-Hasan: Open Letter to Secretary Rice

By Dr. Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Special to PalestineChronicle.com

Madam Secretary: I am writing on behalf of the ordinary Palestinians who live in the big jails that are called the occupied lands and the three generations of the stateless refugees living in camps.

The Palestinians were excited when you first joined President Bush team. They thought you would be in their corner defending their human rights because they assumed you know what it means to be oppressed. Children and illiterate Palestinian women recognized your picture with optimism and hoped for better days to come under your stewardship. Then based on your performance as the US Secretary of State, all the capital of love and admiration they had for you evaporated and I am sorry to say, you became a big disappointment.

You have overwhelmed the Palestinians with your smiles and charms during your many visits to their territory, but they are tired of being fed with your sweet words, the rhetoric and the promises of the “two state solution living side-by-side”. You lost what was left of your credibility as a peace maker when you became the cheerleader of the Israeli brutality in Lebanon. In the aftermath of the Israeli air strike on July 30, 2006 that killed more than 60 Lebanese in Qana most of them children and women, you expressed “sorrow” but refused to join the international community in condemning Israel. You defied the logic of all civilized societies when you suggested that the destruction of Lebanon with the US supplied bombs and the killing of civilians including children and their parents by Israel was nothing but the "birth pangs" of a new Middle East. Sure enough, your “new Middle East” had been mid-wifed by Israel’s ruthless war machine in order to neutralize any resistance to the Israeli occupation in Palestine.

The Palestinians believe your government does not have a clear policy of its own toward them. Your policy has been to follow the cues from the Israeli governments and help them accomplish their expansionist goals regardless of their unfairness to the Palestinians. You sought to create the impression that Washington was serious about reviving the moribund peace process. But the only thing you have accomplished so far was to weaken the Palestinians by widening the rift between their two main factions. You have helped your friends in Israel to exploit the weakness of a conquered people with powerless leadership to further the Israelis goals by dividing the Palestinians into moderates and extremists.

The Palestinians understand the US is responsible for their misery because it is the only power that has influence on Israel to end the occupation. The Israeli occupation is the problem. This letter is not big enough to describe how the Palestinians live under the occupation on what is left of their land.

Israel has transformed the territory into a large concentration camp and invaded its towns regularly and established hundreds of road blocks. Just to go for shopping or to seek medical care, Palestinians under occupation have to stand hours in lines and their produce to rot at the check points and road blocks that Israel operates. Many sick people, pregnant women and old Palestinians died waiting for approval nodes from the armed Israeli occupiers to cross the check points. Young Israeli sadistic recruits manning the check points entertain themselves by ordering Palestinians to sit down on the dirt in the sun for hours.

Israel continues to impose violence and discrimination against the Palestinians for decades. Your government refers to the violence done by the occupied and oppressed Palestinians as terrorism but you call the daily terror and daily humiliation carried out by the Israeli occupiers and the settlers’ gangs against the Palestinians as self-defense. Your government did not condemn the separation wall that is built on Palestinian land and separated farmers from their farms, children from their schools and even villages from their cemeteries. Instead, your tax payers practically financed the wall.
To add insult to injury, the highest authority in your government called Ariel Sharon, the architect of the wall, “a man of peace”. This “man of peace” had been held by the Israeli Kahan Commission “personally responsible” for the killing of two thousand Palestinian civilians including women and children in the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps that was carried out by a Lebanese Phalangist unit hired by Israel.

 “White supremacy” is a dirty phrase in the US because it is the cruelest act of humans to each other, but officials of your government support and defend the policy of Jewish supremacy in Israel proper and the occupied lands. They admire the Israeli system of government that has institutionalized Jewish supremacy over the Palestinians. They call it “the only democracy in the Middle East”. Israel practices ethnic cleansing openly and discriminates against its own Arab citizens. Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party is a deputy prime minister in Olmert government. His party advocates stripping Arab Israelis of their citizens to make Israel more Jewish.

The Israeli laws mandate only Jewish settlements inside Israel proper and in the occupied lands, prevent Arab-Israeli refugees from returning to their homes, build only Jewish by-pass roads and only Jewish tunnels in the occupied lands. When white South Africans practiced this system, it was called apartheid. You call it in Israel “self defense”.

Your government proposed in 2002 what was called “the Road Map” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ariel Sharon placed conditions that had the effect of subverting it. But your government decided to accommodate his wishes even if they strip the plan of its meaning and content.

Following Arafat’s death on November 11, 2004, Mahmoud Abbas won the January 2005 presidential elections and replaced Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The elections were described as peaceful and democratic. Abbas had recognized Israel and renounced terrorism. He was the architect of Oslo and he ran on a platform of negotiating a settlement with Israel. Given these circumstances, conditions were ripe for serious movement forward in the peace process. It was an ideal opportunity for your government to push the peace process forward.

Peace was especially possible since President Bush was in a strong position after he had just won re-election for the second term and Abbas was the undisputed leader of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But instead of helping the pro-US Palestinian leader by making it easy for him to negotiate an agreement with the Israelis, your government ignored him completely on the advise of Sharon.

Fatah corruption and Sharon refusal to negotiate with Abbas contributed to Hams electoral victory in January 2006. Your government policies had created an environment where only the radical Islamists would have more support by the Palestinians. When a tyrant rules the neighborhood, people seek the Almighty God (Allah) as the last resort. The elections were monitored by many foreign observers who testified to their fairness, transparency and democratic nature. But your government, Madam Secretary decided to boycott the government that was formed by the winner of these elections because Israel does not deal with groups that do not recognize its supremacist regime. You used your influence to force world wide economic sanctions against the Palestinians who are already suffering under a brutal occupation because they elected Hamas.

Your government supported anything Israel does even if it was contrary to its own stated policy and its own interests. President Bush committed himself to supporting Sharon unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians at the cost of abandoning his own “Road Map to Peace”. He had claimed the “Road Map” was the only way to achieve peace only two weeks before he adopted Sharon’s unilateral plan. Your government continued to praise Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza although it cordoned off the strip and made it impossible for its residents to lead a normal life. Immediately after the war in Lebanon ended, the Israelis under Olmert figured out that unilateralism had not accomplished all their strategic goals. Then your government followed their lead and decided to reactivate the forgotten “Road Map”.

Reactivating peace process for the Palestinians starts by stopping building the separation wall or the expansion of settlements and engage in political negotiations on the final settlement of the conflict. And only you can make Israel take these actions. On the contrary, you have not changed your role of defending the Israeli actions while it continues building the separation wall and more ‘Jewish only’ settlements. Israel had no plan for building a long-term peace as an alternative to violence and building walls on Palestinian lands. You did not seem to be concerned about the Palestinians when Israel announced in December of 2006 plans to build a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank and to confiscate more Arab land to expand its biggest settlement, Ma’aleh Adumin.

You stated that the Mecca Declaration, that ended violence between Fatah and Hamas, had “complicated the situation”. This suggests that ending the bloody infighting and chaos among the Palestinians runs against the interests of the US in the region. You considered peace among the Palestinians a bad idea. This attitude reinforces the Palestinians public perception that the US is not only the guardian-ally of Israel but an enemy to the Palestinians as well. With such malice toward the Palestinians, you Madam Secretary could not be trusted to play a key mediating role.

I am sorry to say that based on their experience in the last seven years, the Palestinians do not expect much from the US sponsored “peace conference” in November. But if you prove me wrong, Madam Secretary, I will gladly write an open apology to you and ask for forgiveness.

-The author is a regular contributor to PalstineChronicle.com; born in Nablus, Palestine, Hasan Afif El-Hasan,Ph.D, is a political analyst and an author. He worked for 30-years in Avionics Engineering.

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