Until when will this conspiracy of silence go on?
Seconds passed like an eternity for a heart beating for freedom, a soul which fought against occupation and its humiliation and a body shrinking into itself trying to avoid 21st-century brutality in a prison cell without doors or windows. The body is thin and delicate, the head is scarfed and the eyes are blindfolded in absolute absence of human conscience, while the monsters of the Western age in the land of Jesus Christ dance around their victim. Are these monsters dancing in celebration of kidnapping an Arab girl whose only sin was that she had fought for her and her people's freedom? Or are they dancing in celebration of the death of world conscience which drawls human rights and freedom while turning its back on the most sacred cause of freedom in the 21st century: the freedom of the Palestinian people and their fight for salvation from Israeli terrorism perpetrated through Western support for over 60 years?
Released prisoner, Ihsan Dababseh, 24, tells the story of the video in which Israeli soldier Avi Yakobov, who abused her by performing a belly-dance and rubbing against her bound and blind-folded body in December, 2007, at the Gush Etzion military base. She says: "Another soldier brought a bottle of wine and asked me to drink." Minutes later, soldiers attacked her like frenzied wolves with gun butts. "One soldier kept hitting my head against an iron bar until I blacked out."
Dababseh's story is only one of numerous daily stories in the lives of the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in the last apartheid regime in the world. Nevertheless, the "civilized" world hardly remembers them, except when seconds of the suffering of one of them is leaked out. These are mere seconds of long years of torture and humiliation, without any protest on the part of the "free" Western media, human-rights organizations or the UN Human Rights Council.
As a result of Western states and media collusion with Israeli government terrorism, Israeli soldiers have arrested over 90 Palestinian children in one month. The youngest, aged 13, was taken out of his family home by court order. Human-rights groups have revealed abuses by Israeli soldiers more than once.
Do Western politicians, who flatter Israeli war criminals like Benjamin Netanyahu, by calling Israel "an oasis of democracy" know this? Why don't the Americans spread freedom and human rights in Palestine instead of supporting and funding torture, murder and settlement? Or do they view Palestinians as they viewed the native Americans in America and the Aborigines in Australia as people without human rights and whose life is not equal to human life? American and European silence toward these atrocious Israeli crimes, even their absolute support of the racist government in Israel gave Israeli soldiers and settlers a free hand to kill, torture and run over unarmed Palestinian civilians. Their crimes have exceeded manifold those committed by the Apartheid in South Africa.
A holocaust survivor on the boat Irene which tried to break the Gaza blockade said, "What I suffered in the holocaust is largely similar to the suffering of Palestinian children today." This was also expressed by Amira Hass (Haaretz, October 7, 2010). She wrote, "Evidence? Explanations? Common sense? No need. They, after all, are paid a salary by the Israeli taxpayer in order to invent new kinds of punishment and torture. She adds: "Today, the sense of shame has disappeared. Society's backing is assured."
For my part, I add that the sense of shame has disappeared because the silence of the "international community" is assured, because none of the world leaders is "free" any longer. They have become captive to the Israeli lobby which controls the Congress, the media and election money. That is why no American or European leader, not even the UN, will ever condemn any crime against the Palestinians as long as the perpetrators are Israelis. Even when the victim of such aggression is the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire. The peace activist arrived in Gaza on board the ship Rachel Corrie (named after the young woman run over by Israeli bulldozers). When she returned to Bein-Gurion Airport days ago, she was detained by Israeli authorities in the same way they detained American thinkers Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein and Spanish artist Ivan Prado, secure in the knowledge that no one would dare criticize the Israeli apartheid regime for fear of being accused of anti-Semitism. Her crime was that several months ago she took part in a protest organized by the Bili'in villagers against the racist segregation wall and was twice on board ships to break the Gaza blockade.
The crimes committed with impunity by this racist entity against prisoners and peace, freedom, justice and human-rights activists have gone so far largely because of the "silence" of "democratic" countries. It is true that Palestinian prisoners and activists are fighting for the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people, but they actually embody the conscience of free people all over the world. Should we leave them in Israeli jails, as we have left Nelson Mandela in the Apartheid prisons for decades, and wait for their release and turning them into icons of freedom and dignity? Or should we start immediately to work for the release of all prisoners and for enabling them to live in freedom and dignity with their families in their homeland?
No human-rights organization, or regime claiming concern for human rights and freedom, has any credibility as long as 11,000 Palestinians suffer the scourge of a hateful criminal occupation, and as long as the world keeps silence regarding the atrocious crimes committed against them in Israel's prisons.
Professor Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media adviser at the Syrian presidency, and former expatriates minister. She holds a doctorate in English Literature from Warwick University. She was the media spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
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