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"Apartheid wall" looming over the road map
Israel's racist war on Palestinians

By Eric Ruder | August 22, 2003 | Page 4

IMAGINE THE outcry if Congress passed a law denying citizenship to people of African descent who marry U.S. citizens. Israel's Knesset passed just such a law July 31, forcing Palestinians who marry Israelis to live "separate and unequal" lives from their spouses.

Carefully written to exempt non-Palestinian spouses of Israelis, this shameful law is one of many that enshrine Israel's racism towards Palestinians in official policy. The measure will tear apart families in an attempt to further isolate the 3 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories of Gaza and the West Bank from the 1.25 million Palestinians living inside Israel's official borders.

And what was the response from U.S. lawmakers to the latest outrage of Israel's apartheid state? Not a peep.

In fact, one day before the law was passed, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) gave a bloodcurdling speech to the Knesset, urging on Israel's iron-fisted war against the Palestinians. "Until I heard him speak, I thought I was farthest to the right in the Knesset," said one Israeli legislator.

In fact, Israeli officials won the praise of the U.S. government for agreeing to a ceasefire in late June and negotiating with the Palestinian Authority over the details of the U.S.-backed "road map" to peace. All the while, though, Israel continued the policies that drive the conflict--the construction of illegal settlements, closure of Palestinian areas, house demolitions and extra-judicial killings of Palestinian activists.

And looming over all of this is the construction of a 215-mile "security fence" that snakes its way through the West Bank, cutting off Palestinians from their lands and from each other. Plowing through fields and demolishing cemeteries and homes that stand in the way, the fence for much of its length is 10 feet high, topped by coiled barbed wire and flanked by trenches and a 65-yard buffer zone with a path wide enough for Israeli tanks.

In some areas, it becomes a towering 26-foot-high concrete wall, casting an enormous and hated shadow. Construction of the fence costs an incredible $1.6 million per mile. But the cost for Palestinians--economically, politically and emotionally--is much higher.

For example, the wall now separates the fields and orchards of 500 families living in the village of Jayyous from eight wells that are critical to irrigation--turning their land from a vibrant green to a burnt brown. "When the wall is complete," said Abed Rahman Tamimi, the director of a nongovernmental water agency, "the control of the discharge, quantity and quality of Palestinian water will be under their control. Israel is creating facts on the ground for future negotiations. What's the benefit of holding negotiations if the Israeli bulldozers are drawing the maps?"

So far, U.S. officials have offered only mild criticism of the wall. Last week, Bush referred to it as a "problem."

And when two Palestinian suicide bombers struck on the same day in Rosh Haayin and the West Bank settlement of Ariel, all talk quickly focused on how the attack was a violation of the ceasefire. But missing from the mainstream coverage was Israel's so-called "targeted killings" of two Palestinian activists in Nablus four days earlier.

The Israeli raid used seven tanks, four armored personnel carriers, 14 jeeps and two helicopters to "liquidate" their human targets--in the process killing two civilians and leveling a four-story apartment building. How can anyone not recognize this as an Israeli provocation that invited retaliation?

Israel's massive repression feeds the pools of resentment and desperation that produce Palestinian suicide bombers. But none of this matters to Israel boosters like DeLay. In his opinion and others like him, when Palestinians use violence, it is always "terror." And when Israel carries out "targeted assassinations," it's the "legitimate" use of force.

Never mind that the day-to-day violence meted out by Israeli soldiers is far more lethal--three times more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the new Palestinian Intifada in September 2000. Never mind that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has refused to halt the building of Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied Territories--let alone disarm the fanatical and heavily armed zealots that populate them. Never mind that the right to armed resistance against an illegal occupation is guaranteed by international law.

The Bush administration has set its sights on nothing less than remaking the Middle East to serve U.S. interests, and Israel--with its massive and sophisticated military, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers--is its enforcer of last resort.

For those of us who want to see peace and justice, we also must aim at nothing less than "remaking the Middle East"--but from the ground up, through a struggle that unites the working class throughout the Middle East in a struggle against their own Arab rulers, Israel's apartheid and U.S. imperialism. Only then can there be a real peace in the Middle East.

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