Ending the Siege by Exiling Palestinians:
The Same Old Zionist Tactic
The Palestinian Authority agreed to the Israeli condition of ending the siege of the Church of the Nativity by exiling 13 Palestinians to European countries. Twenty-six other Palestinians will leave to Gaza, the rest will be released. These were the Palestinians who participated in defending Bethlehem when Israeli occupation forces reoccupied the city on March 29, 2002. Several European countries have accepted to receive the 13 Palestinians. These are Italy, Spain, Greece, Austria, and Luxembourg.
The issue of exiling Palestinians is a very emotional one for the Palestinian people. It represents the same old tactic that Zionists have used in order to evict Palestinians from their homeland and bring Jewish immigrants to displace them. Therefore, all Palestinian political parties and organizations rejected the deal that the Palestinian Authority agreed to. All Arab states refused to receive the 13 exiled Palestinians. European countries, which accepted to receive them in order to help end the siege, are now held by the Palestinian people responsible to bringing them back to Palestine after the three-year period of their exile. These Palestinian freedom fighters did nothing wrong when they defended their city against the Zionist invaders, and therefore should not be deprived of staying in their homeland. In all wars, when hostilities are over, war parties exchange prisoners. However, Israelis have practiced this tactic of eviction and exile of the Palestinian people whenever they had a chance. They evicted most Palestinians from their villages, towns, and cities in 1948. They have followed a policy that aims at indirect eviction of Palestinians since they have occupied the Arab territories in 1967. They would issue travel permits with three-year period limit. If Palestinian travelers cannot come back within three years, they would lose their right for return. During the first Palestinian Uprising (1987-1993), they exiled a group of Palestinian leaders to South Lebanon. At present, Israeli Likude cabinet members continuously threaten to exile even the Palestinian President, Yassir Arafat.
This deal is all wrong. It should not have happened. European countries should not have agreed to help Israelis use their same old tactic. Instead, they should have told the Zionist government to leave the Palestinian people alone. After all, Bethlehem is a Palestinian city, which has been invaded by Israelis, and these Palestinian young men did what is expected from young men anywhere, at any time, that is defending their city against invaders. And according to the Oslo agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, the whole issue should be handled by the Palestinian Authority because it is under its jurisdiction.
Last week, Kofi Anan canceled that UN fact-finding mission, which was supposed to investigate the Jenin massacre. Because Israel objected, the mission was canceled. This week, Israel has insisted on exiling the victims of its invasion, world governments are either silent or cooperative with Israel. Well, if governments are unable to face Zionist aggression, good people everywhere can make a difference. Just like the South African apartheid regime, the Zionist regime in Israel needs to be boycotted on all levels, particularly the economic one. People can make a difference if they stop buying Israeli products, or products of companies doing business with Israel.* People can make a difference by divesting, or stopping investment, in Israel. They can ask their companies not to invest their retirement money in the Zionist state. Finally, people can make a difference by not voting to politicians who support Israeli aggression. Humanity cannot afford tolerating the racist and aggressive Zionist state anymore. Its policies have to be changed before more and more suffering is caused to Palestinians and Israelis in particular, and to the world in general.
Hassan A. El-Najjar
* A list of major companies that support Israel can be
found in the letters section (Mammon Petra's letter). A list of their
logos can be found on the following website: