From Tue Oct 10 07:19:19 2000
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 22:30:43 -0400
From: Black Radical Congress <>
Subject: Conflict in Israel
Precedence: bulk

Current Conflict in Israel and the Occupied Territories

Statement by the National Coordinating Committee (CC) of the Black Radical Congress (BRC), 7 October 2000

The current situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories is fast breaking, and circumstances change with every passing moment. As we write, on the eighth day since extreme right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—called by the Palestinians, Haram Al-Sharif—triggered a Palestinian uprising, blood is still flowing in the streets of many cities and towns, overwhelmingly the blood of Palestinian men, women and children.

We comment on the current events in northeastern Africa (usually called the Middle East) as people of African descent. We comment as people living in the United States who have endured several hundred years of unpunished crimes against our humanity, abuse of our rights as human beings and as citizens, and state-sponsored and state-sanctioned violence against our persons and homes. Only a few days prior to the eruptions in Jerusalem, several articles in the Israeli Arab paper Kull Al-Arab documented racist and contemptuous treatment of Arab citizens by the Israeli police. The subject has a familiar ring. Reading and viewing reports of police suppression of demonstrations by Israel’s Arab minority, which has mobilized on an unprecedented scale in solidarity with its Palestinian brothers and sisters, we nod in recognition. These pictures, along with the picture of Israeli soldiers’ and police officers’ disproportionate, murderous response to the Palestinian protests, are pictures we know well from the lived experiences of our own history.

First and foremost, in this moment when children are dying from rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition in the chest and head, the Black Radical Congress condemns these actions. We join representatives of the Palestinian people, others within the United States and in the international community -- including Al Haq, the European Union and freedom fighters throughout the world—in an urgent call for the United Nations to stop the bloodshed, and for a United Nations investigation into the Israeli military and police forces’ excessive use of deadly force against Palestinian and Israeli Arab demonstrators. We are also angered by reports that journalists and medical personnel in ambulances have been targeted. Further, The Black Radical Congress, reflecting the sentiments of thousands of African Americans, demands that Israel be held to account for the armed actions of its agents under the Geneva Conventions and all other appropriate provisions of international human rights law.

The most stunning of the many ironies marking the history of Israel is that this State, established in the wake of a holocaust of monumental crimes against the Jewish people by the Third Reich and its allies, has itself inflicted upon generations of another great people the pain of conquest, occupation, displacement, statelessness, exile, subjugation, national oppression within its borders and violent death. Aiding and abetting Israel in this oppressive project has been its principal patron and benefactor, the United States, which, in recent years has also been party to a peace process that can only be seen as deeply flawed and inadequate through the lens of Palestinian interests and aspirations.

The Oslo agreement of 1993, successor to the Camp David Accords, falls woefully short of actualizing the Palestinian dream of independence and equal sovereignty. Rather, it provides for limited self-rule with a negotiated transition to greater autonomy—not independence—and it leaves fundamentally intact the conquering Israelis’ supremacy over the vanquished Palestinians. It also effectively perpetuates Israel’s U.S.- sponsored role as the nuclear-armed northeastern border guard of a resourceful continent. Not only do the conditions of Israeli occupation remain virtually unchanged under Oslo, but the Black Radical Congress is appalled that the march toward a stillbirth of Palestine as a bantustan, surrounded by Israeli settlements and subject to the total political, economic and military control of Israel, continues unabated. In short, nothing but legitimate rage and frustration could be expected to flow from the Palestinians’ awareness that Oslo promises not a peace with justice, but a peace of might over right, of supremacy over the principle of equality, a neo-colonialist peace, an apartheid peace, a peace of the grave.

Into this context stepped Ariel Sharon, the former defense minister who presided over the infamous slaughter of innocents by Israeli Defense Forces under his command in Lebanon’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during the 1982 Israeli invasion, condemned worldwide for that episode and ever since the premier symbol—for Palestinians and for the world—of Israeli intransigence and brutality. How else to view Sharon’s taking his aggressive show to the Temple Mount, under armed escort of the state, than as a deliberate provocation intended to spark exactly what it sparked: an uprising. Instructing posterity on what happens to a dream deferred, the great African American poet, Langston Hughes, wrote, it explodes. What else to conclude than that the government presumed to be custodian of an alleged peace process on the Israeli side is bent on arresting that process, insufficient as it is. Let those who would demand restraint from the Palestinian people in the face of outrageous provocation redirect that demand to the occupiers. We view as inescapable the conclusion that the Israeli government bears full responsibility for the present disturbances, and as the world watches we are reminded that rank injustices in any part of the world, left to fester and metastasize, with nuclear weapons lurking in the wings, threaten all of humanity.

Several visions are competing for the resolution of this conflict. Some Palestinians (and some Israelis alike) uphold the ideal of a democratic, secular Palestine in which Moslem, Christian and Jew enjoy equal rights of citizenship, equal religious and cultural expression, equal protection under the laws. The majority favors an independent Palestinian state that enjoys equal sovereignty with the State of Israel. Unfortunately, successive Israeli governments, though never all of the Israeli people, cling to the vision of a fortress Jewish state, its citizenry divided into de facto first, second and third classes, reigning supreme and dominant in the region.

The Black Radical Congress calls upon the United States, which consistently promotes itself globally as the foremost defender of human rights, to end its silence and its hypocrisy in the face of the slaughter of Palestinian children, by demanding that Israel cease and desist immediately its brutal conduct.

The Black Radical Congress further calls upon the progressive sectors of the Israeli populace, those who seek a safe and honorable future for their own children, to demand that their government embark upon the journey toward a true peace with justice and equality, a peace founded on the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people, a peace that respects the national and human rights of all the people of the Middle East.