For quite some time now, we have been hearing more and more people in the western world wondering: Why don't these Arabs leave the state of Israel in peace? Why do those undemocratic Arab countries keep threatening the state of Israel? Why are Palestinians threatening the lives of Israelis? Hearing about what these people wonder makes me wonder if we are living on the same planet. Though I am an enemy of violence, I wonder if I have come from Mars or Jupiter or somewhere because the way I see the reality of daily life for the Palestinian people is quite different from the 'Alice in Wonderland' picture of Israel. When the state of Israel was created, a massive injustice was committed against the local Arab population living in Palestine. The United Nations took little care of the local population of Palestine when they helped to create the state of Israel. Moreover, when the United Nations recognised the state of Israel, it (and, in particular, the United States of America and Great Britain) accepted the principle that, in order to create a new state, it was acceptable to violate the basic human rights of another people. Furthermore, during the last 52 years, the state of Israel has not ceased to expand itself, using violent means to oppress the local Arab population and to humiliate them. The world seems to be turning a blind eye, forgetting that Israel (despite the UN resolutions) is occupying the land of another people. Here we are now, in the face of the recent events in Palestine, where we find the world wondering why the Palestinian people are resorting to violence despite the Oslo peace process. For people with some intelligence and some awareness of the situation, it is quite obvious. After 52 years of occupation, the peace process has transformed Palestinians into beggars for their own rights. The continuous violence and humiliation by the Israeli forces are too much for these people to bear. Indeed, it is totally unacceptable - and quite surprising that they have not expressed their frustration earlier than now. Let us never forget that the first act of violence in Palestine is the Israeli occupation; it is this occupation that prevents people from their freedom of movement, their freedom of religious life, their freedom of expression, their liberty to chose their own destiny. For 52 years, the state of Israel has been violating the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - one after the other - and this in all impunity. Ask yourself: why is it so? One of the reasons is the unconditional support of some of the most powerful western countries to the state of Israel, and the silence of others. By giving such support, countries like the USA have become partners in the injustices committed against the Palestinian people. Likewise, the silence or look warm attitudes of other countries is also not acceptable. Anyone with a conscience and a little bit of human compassion can no longer accept the offences being committed every day against the Palestinian people. People sitting safely in comfortable houses are blaming the victims and not those who are murdering them. Instead of telling the Israeli soldiers to stop slaughtering the Palestinian children, they are telling the Palestinians to stop sending their children to the slaughtering fields. The United Nations was created to improve the quality of life of the world population but one begins to wonder if most of the values protected by the UN Declaration on Human Rights are not lost for humanity. This terrible conclusion may make you feel sick - but what can we say? Not only have they have fallen short in fulfilling their role; they have become a tool in the hands of the USA, together with institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank as powerful weapons to silence countries who are more sensitive to the violation of human rights. Democracy was instituted for the good of all, for the protection of human rights. If our leaders fall short in fulfilling their duties, it is the duty of the people to change their leaders. How can we tolerate the proposal of an inquiry commission composed mainly by Americans and Turks - people who still operate the death penalty in their countries, people who oppress or have oppressed so many others (the Armenians, Kurds, Afro-Americans, Native Americans, to name a few). The democracies of the world have fallen short in fulfilling their duty to protect the weak against the strong in Palestine. Are we going to let them continue to do so? If the answer to this question is yes, then we had better prepare ourselves for big catastrophes. If the answer to this question is no, then let us question our government and promote justice for Palestinians and peace for all. Too many people around the world are suffering because of the lethargy of so-called western democracies and their ever-growing greediness. It is time to stop it. During his visit to Palestine, Pope John-Paul II, while recognising the suffering the people of Israel endured during the centuries, said also in Bethlehem that the suffering of the Palestinian people was in front of the eyes of the world. He said that nobody can ignore it any longer. So people of the world let us reclaim what are our Human Rights, let us promote them and let us struggle for them. Let us stand and say NO MORE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. Fr Stephane Joulain Jerusalem, 14 November 2000
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