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Israeli soldiers killed this man in cold blood
End U.S. support for Israel's terror

By Eric Ruder | March 22, 2002 | Page 12

THE REAL barbarism of Israel's occupation of Palestine was captured by a photographer who took pictures of Israeli soldiers as they executed Mahmoud Salah in cold blood.

For half an hour, these soldiers toyed with their "prize," beating him, forcing him to kneel, stripping off his clothes--and finally firing their weapons repeatedly into his head at close range.

But you won't hear about this grotesque murder in the mainstream media--because it doesn't fit the script that casts Israel as the "victim" of Palestinian "terrorism."

The reality is very different. The 18-month Palestinian uprising--or Intifada--against Israel's illegal occupation has been mercilessly repressed. More than 1,200 Palestinians are dead--one-third of them children and the vast majority civilians. The number of those wounded, maimed and crippled for life is staggering--20,000 or more.

But despite this bloodshed, the U.S. has never challenged Israeli atrocities--except to question whether they're militarily "counterproductive," as Secretary of State Colin Powell put it earlier this month.

The media may accept the U.S. government's claim to be a "peace broker," but this is nonsense. As usual with a planned visit by a U.S. envoy, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stepped up the war on Palestinians in the days before Gen. Anthony Zinni arrived in the Middle East. This allowed Sharon to pull back troops when Zinni arrived--in an effort to seem interested in "peace."

Israel has no interest in real negotiations. Even the fiercely pro-Israel New York Times acknowledged last week that Sharon "intends to forestall political talks as long as possible, because any such negotiations would immediately put pressure on him for territorial concessions he is not prepared to make."

As Israel ended its occupations of Ramallah, Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns and refugee camps, stories of Israel's brutality were still coming to light. "Hundreds of Palestinian boys and men, rounded up at gunpoint in Israel's sweep through the refugee camps of the West Bank, were left hungry and unwashed and were taunted by their captors during a confinement that lasted as long as six days," Britain's Guardian newspaper reported. "The only apparent criteria for the mass arrests was that they were Palestinian, aged between 15 and 45."

As Hannah Friedman, director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, told reporters, "This was only to humiliate all the men and the people in the camps, and these mass arrests will make it more difficult to make peace…We are creating our own enemies." Human rights groups put the total number of boys and men detained at around 2,000.

"We were in the middle of the camp under the siege of Israelis," said Faisal Salamah, local director of refugee affairs for the Palestinian Authority in the village of Tulkarem. "It was terrifying--there were Apache helicopters over our heads and many, many snipers. Anybody moving in the street was shot."

The U.S. was doing its best to pose as peacemaker last week--in order to line up support from Arab governments for a new war against Iraq. That's why the U.S. sponsored a United Nations (UN) resolution in support of Palestinian statehood.

But the resolution was carefully worded to avoid calling Israel an occupying power. "[The] UN resolution makes no reference to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza…and thus presents the world with an image, or 'vision,' of two sides fighting on level ground," wrote Robert Fisk in Britain's Independent newspaper.

A group of Palestinian intellectuals, including Edward Said, issued a statement March 16 making the same point. "Palestinian resistance has no definition other than a national struggle to end the occupation and to achieve freedom and independence," they wrote.

"The brutal Israeli military campaign against the Palestinians has no definition other than seeking to perpetuate the occupation--the longest occupation in the 20th century and the last of all occupations in an age that celebrates human rights and recognizes peoples' rights to freedom and self-determination…However, this current government in Israel wants both occupation and peace simultaneously--that is, it wants us to acquiesce to enslavement in return for refraining from shelling us by air."

We have to expose Israel's brutality. And we have to organize against the massive U.S. aid--more than $4 billion a year--that enables Israel to continue to oppress Palestinians.

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