Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bush's "vision" is Palestine's nightmare

The illustration commissioned by the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory that Al-Quds newspaper refused to publish.

Sam Bahour writing from al-Bireh/Ramallah, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 10 January 2008

"......Today Bush arrives in my Israeli-occupied city of al-Bireh/Ramallah. He plans to land two blocks away from my home, in a sports field that I happen to be developing as a commercial project for the nearby Friends (Quaker) School. We were notified today that our street will be one of the many that will be under 100 percent lockdown. We were advised we would be risking our lives if we went to our rooftop to watch the charade unfold. Public notices from the Palestinian police chief warned that absolutely no protests would be tolerated. In short, we were told to stay indoors. Even our local newspaper, Al-Quds, refused to publish as an advertisement a cartoon satirizing Bush's visit submitted by a civil society campaign I work with. So much for running a business, economic development, and freedom of the press. So much for Palestinian democracy too.

As an American and a Palestinian, if I could advise Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on how to greet his American peer today, I would ask him to declare the end of the Palestinian Authority, which Israel has purposefully and systematically destroyed. I would ask him to announce that the Palestinians will not accept Rambo-style diplomacy and will revert to international law as the only reference point for resolving the conflict. I would ask Abbas to request America's support for nonviolent resistance against sixty years of dispossession and forty years of military occupation by calling for a strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it joins the community of law-abiding nations.

But that's not all. If I were Abbas I would tell the world that the Palestinian people will remain committed to the two-state solution until the end of 2008, and after that, if the international community fails yet again to end this nightmare of occupation, the Palestinian people will return to their original strategy of calling for one democratic secular state, where Palestinians and Israelis of all religions can live in dignity and mutual respect as equals -- one person, one vote, with appropriate arrangements for cultural autonomy for all."

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