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Mustafa Barghouti: ”Apartheid is to put it mildly”

Posted by Pia på torsdag 15 maj 2008

Remember Annapolis, the last conference supposed to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians in November 2007? Since then, Israeli attacks on Palestinians have risen by 300%. The settlements have expanded eleven times as much as before the conference, there are 50 new checkpoints in the West Bank, and the WALL, which is twice as high as the Berlin wall but is called a ”fence”, is still being built onto more Palestinian land. Actually you can’t say that it separates Palestinians from Israelis, to the most part it separates Palestinians from Palestinians. Like in the town -now open air prison – of Qalqiliya for example, a city that is surrounded by the wall on all sides apart from a gate that is opened by Israeli soldiers, once in the morning, once during the day and finally at 6 pm. Those who get home after that have to sleep outside town. Pregnant women are now leaving town 2-3 weeks before their due dates to avoid having to give birth in front of soldiers standing there with the gate keys in their pockets (which still happens).

These are some of the facts Dr Mustafa Barghouti, a democracy activist, MD and founder of PMRS spoke about as an honour guest in the Finnish commemoration of 60 years since the Nakba. He spoke in the Finnish parliament as well, but apparently there were not many politicians there. It makes me very angry that they don’t bother to listen to this man. The fact that 48 of their counterparts – the Palestinian parliamentarians – are in prison was apparently not reason enough for our politicians to pay attention to this speaker.

They should, though. Because like Barghouti says, security is not a problem for Israel alone. Look at the figures in his presentation in the picture (click!). 45 Palestinians have died for every 1 Israeli since Annapolis. And every Israeli killed is a tragedy, Barghouti assures, while reminding that Palestinian leaders should have the right to demand security for their people just as much as the Israelis do. Who is protecting the people of Gaza, out of whom 165 people have died only because of the siege? Barghouti refers to Israel as an Apartheid state, showing that what is left of the West Bank are mere Bantustans, and stating that there is no real political will for a two-state-solution in Israel. And what makes the situation worse than that in South Africa is not just that this is the longest occupation in recent history, but that the segregation not only affects jobs and education, but even roads. In South Africa, at least everyone could drive on all roads, something that is not allowed for Palestinians in certain West Bank areas.

I am sure of three things, Barghouti wraps up his Helsinki presentation:

  1. The whole community can not stay silent about what is going on. We need to break the information barrier and tell the truth. In media, in schools and organisations.
  2. No matter how unjust this system is, it will not fall by itself. Palestine needs international support, the way Mandela got it (Mandela has by the way uttered that Palestine is the world’s number one moral issue at the moment) and
  3. Whatever sufferings we have to endure, the Palestinians will never surrender and leave.

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