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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une si silencieuse guerre

by Patrick Le Hyaric, Director of l’Humanité

Such a silent war

Translated Tuesday 12 May 2009, by Kristina Wischenkamper

Palestine has become a veritable bantustan [1].

Imagine: soldiers full of hate forcefully enter your house. They throw you out. Then destroy your house. They take over your land. Imagine, day by day your town, your district, made smaller and smaller by a foreign state that is annexing your territory. And then — in what only yesterday was the house of your neighbours or where your friends lived –- it settles its colonizers. Throughout the country this iniquitous process of colonisation is gaining ground in just such a way, limitlessly and completely illegally. To the point where you are surrounded, imprisoned in what can only be called a bantustan.

Imagine: every morning going to work, every evening coming home. When your children go to school and when they return. In your own country, a border crossing. The cold click of a turnstile. Your clothes, your possessions x-rayed for traces of metal or explosives. Your very own country and yet you need a permit to cross. And then the insults and jibes coming from the young soldiers of the occupying army.

Imagine that the occupying state that is annexing your land builds wide, modern roads across your country, for use only by the colonies that people the cities built especially for them, while you have to make do with asphalt or mud roads where passing any vehicle is hazardous. Imagine that in your country, your town, your garden, in the middle of your house, the occupying state builds a separating wall: separating you from the inhabitants of this other state, but also separating you from your family.

Imagine you get married to someone living in Lyon, Marseille, Tulle or Lorient. But seeing as you live in Seine-Saint Denis, you are forbidden to live with your partner and your children. This is no exaggeration! It’s not a nightmare either. Because the people I’m talking about here, live it on a daily basis. We were able to witness it first-hand again last week, alas, and with great shock, as part of a delegation of some hundred elected representatives and NGOs, from a variety of opinions.

Where? In Palestine. Indeed. Whatever our religious, political or philosophic convictions, let us discuss rationally, without hatred, and let us note this fact: another war, a silent one, is being waged against the Palestinian people. A war which consists of colonising and annexing their lands, of carrying out in Jerusalem what can only be called ethnic cleansing. Jerusalem, a city of such beauty, history, culture, a religious crossroads of sorts, at the centre of which Palestinian houses are destroyed according to a painstaking geographical plan that aims at cutting East Jerusalem in two, splitting the city with an already well-advanced construction of a tramway. And to install and develop on the outskirts settlements like a medieval French town that will encircle Jerusalem, disfigured by this hideous wall which henceforth will cut through it bit by bit. [2]

All this is going on, every day, in a silence that is as deafening as it is worrying, so that the Palestinian people might no longer exist. Everything is being done to wipe away the very idea of a national Palestinian state. However, all the international laws outlaw touching Jerusalem. The Israeli government simply takes no notice and no-one says anything. It’s simply revolting!

What human conscience, what humanity can go on accepting this? Let’s make no mistake. Living together in the same world, living side by side, demands that the peace process is restarted and that a stop is put to this colonisation, this annexation, this militarisation of Palestinian spaces, and this policy that can be called nothing other than one of apartheid.

The whole world and all its leaders must surely realise that giving the Israeli government free rein only serves to strengthen the extremists, and by extension the war. The United Nations Security Council should urgently take in hand the scandal of the occupation, the destruction of houses, the segregation wall, as well as the question of food sovereignty and access to water.

We cannot abandon the Palestinian people — fenced in, walled in, colonised, occupied, monitored from watchtowers — to the mercy of the packs of Israeli soldiers and police.
We cannot allow them to be humiliated in this way, suffocated, reduced to silence, without doing something! Any solution depends on an international mobilisation, in the USA, in Europe, and everywhere, of all the people, all the humanists. The European Union has at its disposal a means of putting pressure on Israel: the immediate suspension of the Association Agreement with the state of Israel until its leaders come back to the negotiating table.

No matter what our convictions, our philosophical alliances, we must, all of us together, demand the simple application of the United Nations resolutions. It’s the way ahead for justice, security, rights and peace for everyone. The Israeli government must face up to its crimes in Gaza, lift the blockade, stop its colonisation, its hateful check-points and its destruction of houses. It must take down the walls, apply the UN resolution concerning the refugees’ right to return, and give back the property stolen from Palestinian families. It must free the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, starting with Marwan Barghouti. And the President of the Republic of France should move with resolve to free the young Franco-Palestinian, Salah Hamouri, from the Israeli jail in which he has been rotting for some 1,500 days. A just and durable solution for the Palestinian and Israeli people would be to return to the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital, as international law demands. This is urgent! The world MUST act! There’s been enough impunity! That’s the cry we heard from the Palestinian people, its elected officials, its political parties, those running the refugee camps. And we’ll continue making it heard until justice is finally done. Nothing is ever irreversible. When people have united they have always made democracy, freedom, peace and autonomy win over barbarism.

Translator’s notes

[1bantu: people, stan: land, or ’homelands’, territory set aside for black inhabitants under the South African apartheid regime.

[2A report by the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem earlier this month gives details of 349 house demolition orders that have been issued since the beginning of 2009. See the full report.

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