With the attention of the international media being focused on the US elections and the conflict in Syria, the Palestinian crisis receives little coverage these days although the happenings are many.
Here are some of the developments that did not make big headlines across the globe: Hundreds of global peace activists gathered in occupied Palestine this week despite tough measures and humiliating tactics being adopted by Israel to stop them. Some were attacked; some were detained and subjected to psychological torture. More than 1,200 Palestinian political prisoners launched a hunger strike on Tuesday protesting over the horrible conditions under which they are being detained and demanding that they be produced in court. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad this week did not attend the scheduled meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a meeting aimed at resuming the stalled peace talks — and sent his chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in his stead after Israel once again rejected the Palestinians' demand for a halt to settlement building activities in occupied West Bank and the recognition of the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations for the two-state solution.
Of course, Israel, which yesterday marked the Holocaust remembrance day, is happy when the Palestinian crisis does not make news. Sadly, though, the fact that Jews were an oppressed nation and now they are oppressing another nation did not occur to the hardline Zionist leaders who rule Israel and control the global media, finance and US politics.
The international media's apathy in highlighting the Palestinian plight together with the United States' immoral support encourages Israel to violate human rights with a culture of impunity and continue the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Last week, more than a thousand international peace activists were to arrive at Israel's Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Their destination was Bethlehem in occupied Palestine. They together with the Palestinian people were to hold peaceful protests to demand that Israel end its occupation. However, several European airlines colluded with Israel or submitted to its threats and refused to fly these activists to Tel Aviv. Thus they became partners in Israel's crime of suppressing the freedom of movement of the peace activists.
Yet, about a hundred activists managed to reach Tel Aviv on Saturday. Israeli officials at the airport humiliated them and told them to go to Syria, Iran and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a 350 sq. km area where some 1.5 million Palestinians live in squalid conditions without direct access to basic needs such as food, water and medicine. Despite the humiliation and threats, these activists held several protests in the West Bank. In one such protest, a bicycle rally to the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley, Israeli military personnel attacked the activists. A youtube video shows a military officer hitting a Danish peace activist on his face with the butt of a US-made M-16 automatic rifle.
These activists risked their lives. They were aware of the fate that befell Rachel Corrie, a peace activist from the United States. In 2003, during a solidarity visit to Gaza, she tried to block an Israeli army bulldozer that had come to destroy Palestinian houses. But the soldier drove on, crushing the 23-year-old activist to death.
The determination of these activists despite death threats underscores their fears that there won't be a Palestinian territory if Israel's practice of gobbling up Palestinian land is not stopped forthwith. According to latest reports, illegal Israeli outposts have reached the outskirts of Ramallah, the West Bank town where the Palestinian Authority offices are headquartered until such time as an independent Palestinian state emerges with East Jerusalem as its capital. A report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said yesterday that the some 20 permanent houses had been built on private Palestinian land near Ramallah. An Israeli defence official told Haaretz that the construction was illegal but admitted that no real steps had been taken to stop it.
In 1972 — five years after Israel occupied Palestinian territory — there were only 1,200 illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank, but today on hilltops overlooking Jordan Valley alone, more than 300,000 illegal Jewish settlers live in fortress like colonies. As illegal Israeli settlements expand, the Palestinians deprived of access to water — both for consumption and irrigation — are displaced. In 1967, some 250,000 Palestinians lived in the West Bank area identified in the Oslo agreement as Zone C. Today, according to a leaked European Union fact-finding mission report, only 50,000 Palestinians live here under trying conditions with little access to water. Describing the water weapon as apartheid, a French Parliamentary fact-finding mission report last year said, some 450,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank use more water than West Bank's 2.3 million Palestinians.
If the dangerous trend continues with the blessings of the United States and its western allies such as Germany, which erroneously believes that it has no right to condemn or chide Israel because of what Hitler did to European Jews, the Palestinians' dream of a state would remain a dream.
World peace activists have named and shamed Israel over the years, but little has changed. Recently, Günter Grass, the German Nobel laureate, described in a poem that Israel was the biggest threat to world peace. But it failed to move the US or Germany.
What is necessary today is to turn the focus of peace activists on the US, a country which zealously comes to the rescue of Israel, even when it commits war crimes. It's time to launch a global intifada not against Israel but against the US that whitewashes Israel’s crimes. Let's begin this on May 15, the day that commemorates an-nakba or the forcible eviction in 1948 of a million Palestinians from what is now Israel.