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Israel Rejects Peace; Defies World Opinion

  • A ground swell of resistance against illegal settlements and excessive violence indicates the tide of public opinion is turning against the Israeli occupation.
Exclusive to The SPOTLIGHT
By Christopher Bollyn

As new revelations of Israeli atrocities emerge, growing numbers of Israelis and American Jews are finding Sharon's vision of Zionism untenable and are deserting in droves.

Some 350 Israeli professors and intellectuals recently issued a call of support for the Palestinian struggle against Israel's occupation, coupled with a plea to the international community to send a force to protect the Palestinians from the army.

Growing numbers of Israeli soldiers are refusing to serve in the "army of occupation." A letter by Eyal Rozenberg, a corporal in the Israeli army, denouncing the Israeli army was published recently in Harper's Magazine and expresses how many young Israelis feel about the army.

The Israeli army is "a military that slaughtered tens of thousands of Pal estinians during 1948 and expelled or chased off hundreds of thousands-thus serving Israelis a state on a platter of foreign currency and local skulls," Rozenberg said.

Nachman Shai, an Israeli government spokesman who said Palestinian influence in the American media was "disturbing," was quoted in Harper's: "We have to win the media war to win the larger war." Israeli leaders work to "turn around American public opinion" because "the media war will decide who is wrong and who is right in this struggle, and we must convince people that we are right."

Part of the Israeli "media war" is to smear peace proponents like Israel Sha mir, who calls for a democratic secular state and the right of return for Pales tinians.

On May 15, as Israelis celebrated the Jewish state's 53rd birthday, Palestinians commemorated Al Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 non-Jews that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.

Palestinians remember the massacres and forced exile of Palestine's non-Jewish population while Israelis celebrate the Zionist conquest of the Holy Land.

"The 1948 war has not yet ended," Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said in a speech written for the occasion, "the tragic and heroic story of the land and the people continues to be told in blood."

Indeed, Israeli forces opened fire upon Al Nakba demonstrators killing four and wounding more than 300. Israel often targets specific individuals for assassination, something that has become a daily routine.

Disturbing revelations of Israeli police snipers carrying out execution-style kil lings of 13 non-Jewish Israeli citizens during peaceful demonstrations last October have shaken Israel. Hundreds of Israeli citizens, all non-Jews, suffered severe in juries when a police commander, Alik Ron, gave shoot-to-kill orders to police snipers.

One officer said it was the first time he had ever known of a policeman being told to open fire on Israeli citizens.

The gory evidence came out during hearings into the killings. The father of one of the victims, 17-year-old Asil Asleh, who was shot in the back of his neck as he lay face down on the ground, said, "Asil's only crime was that he was an Arab in a Jewish state."

Palestinian newspapers report that Israel is using a new type of weapon against the Palestinians-tank shells that contain metal fragments that cause enormous damage when exploded.

The death of four-month-old Iman Hijou was caused by shrapnel as an Israeli tank bombarded a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

"Shrapnel went into her abdomen and came out of her back," a doctor at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis said.

The baby's mother, Suzanne Hijou, was seriously wounded in the attack along with 24 others.

The Israeli settlements and network of "bypass roads," which Sharon masterminded and built with billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, are at the center of the conflict.

Described by Anthony Lewis in The New York Times as "militarized encampments" that have been "built precisely to assert Israeli power and ownership," the settlements are "a crucial obstacle to a resumption of meaningful peace talks."

The Sharon government continues to confiscate land to enlarge the settlements, although there is reportedly "no support" in Israel for this policy, which is at odds with international law and the official position of the U.S. government.

A fact-finding committee, chaired by former Sen. George Mitchell, called for an immediate halt to all settlement building and criticized the Israeli army for its "excessive" use of force against unarmed demonstrators.

The Palestinians welcomed the report's findings and urged the Bush administration to endorse it, while Israel rejected the report's two key recommendations.

Israel says that the settlements, which are neither popular nor populated, need to grow. Israel rejected the report's criticism of the army's use of lethal force on un armed civilians saying it applies "the highest moral standards and values" in what it calls "a war."

American support for Israeli human rights violations may have led to the United States losing its seat on the UN Commission for Human Rights, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Nancy Rubin, who headed the last U.S. delegation, stubbornly defended Israel.

On April 18, the United States was the only nation to vote against a resolution "expressing grave concern at continuing Israeli settlement activities." On other resolutions on Israeli human rights violations, typically Guatemala or Costa Rica join the United States in defending Israel.

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