Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What the persecution of Azmi Bishara means for Palestine

Azmi Bishara is the only Palestinian leader of international stature expressing a vision and strategy that is relevant to all Palestinians and can effectively challenge Zionism. That is why he is in fear for his life, safety and future while the quisling "president" Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah receives money and weapons from the United States and tea and cakes from Ehud Olmert.

An Excellent Piece

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada

"The Israeli state and the Zionist movement have begun their latest assault in their century-long struggle to rid Palestine of its indigenous people and transform their country into a Jewish supremacist enclave: the persecution of Azmi Bishara, one of the most important Palestinian national leaders and thinkers working today. This case has enormous significance for the Palestinian solidarity movement......

Bishara sees Israel's latest gambit as signalling a change in the "rules of the game." If he, an elected official, a well-known public figure can face such tactics, what will the rest of the community face? Indeed, the recent publication by leading Palestinians in Israel of a report calling for mild reforms to the Israeli state prompted Israel's secret police, the Shin Bet (which operates torture and death squads in the occupied territories) to warn that it would "disrupt the activities of any groups that seek to change the Jewish or democratic character of Israel, even if they use democratic means" ("Arab leaders air public relations campaign against Shin Bet," Ha'aretz, 6 April 2007). (There is precedent for such disruption not only against Palestinians, but even against Israel's Mizrahi Jews whose attempts to organize against Ashkenazi discrimination were destroyed by the Shin Bet -- see Joseph Massad's book The Persistence of the Palestinian Question.)

Palestinian solidarity activists must understand and act on the signal Israel is sending by persecuting Bishara. For years, the mainstream Palestinian movement and its allies have buried their heads in the slogan "end the occupation." If it ever was, this vision is no longer broad enough. We must recognize that Israel's war against Palestinians does not discriminate among Palestinians, sparing some and condemning others. It does however take different forms, depending on where Palestinians are. Those in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip live under an extreme form of military tyranny now often called "apartheid," though it is increasingly apparent that it is something even worse. Palestinians inside Israel's 1948 borders live under a system of laws, policies and practices that exclude them politically and oppress them economically and socially. Millions of Palestinians outside the country are victimized by racist laws that forbid their return for the sole reason that they are not Jews......"

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