Kazimierz. The place in Cracow where Jews and Christians had lived together in harmony for the previous four and a half centuries. The place where inconceivable misery took over, where to this day you can almost hear the terrifying staccato rattle of Nazi jackboots over the ancient cobbles. The Jewish people so pleased with their freedom but still bound to fight their anxieties and nightmares. Having had enough of persecution they were finally allowed peaceful and prosperous lives in one of Cracow’s districts.

Israel. The place in the Middle East where there is no single minute of safety or relief. Where every moment of silence warns of a tragic event to come. A little sixteen-year-old Palestinian girl is going to a shop with explosives under her dress to comit suicide in the name of the freedom of her nation and to murder and maim her nation’s oppressors.

Israel was founded in 1948 on former Palestinian territories which were British control as a mandated territory. ”Magnanimous” Britain, sympathising with the Jews, helped to settle them in the Middle Eastern desert. Britain and the USA watched proudly as their progeny worked the miracle and made the desert bloom, never stopping to ask: ”Whose desert is it?” Who gave them the right to make an Arabic nation largely landless? They were so ”generous” in dispensing someone else’s land.

The Jewish nation has always been proud of their wandering nomadic heritage. Due to the fact they thrive in every part of the world; so why were they not given a part of Alaska or a part of Northern Ireland? Because two powerful countries could make generous donors of themselves whilst humiliating the local Moslem population. They even granted the Jews Jerusalem which is also a holy city of Islam. It was simply convenient for them.

No sooner had the independence of Israel been anounced than unrest broke out. A few neighbouring countries stood on the Palestinian side. Israel, thanks to the help of its great parent nations, the USA and Britain, won this ”war” and doubled the area of its territory. Although none of the Middle East countries accepted the new borders, 800 thousand Palestinians preferred to emigrate to other Arabic countries. A part of them managed to assimilate with their new lords but, to this day, a large number of them still live in pitiful conditions in camps like Ramalah.

After occupying the territory since 638 A.D., the Palestinians were informed that this was not to be their homeland anymore. Forced to face this new reality, what guarantee was there that the USA and Britain would not bite the bullet and offer even Mecca, the holiest of Moslem holies, to whosoever suited them? Why not degrade and humiliate all 700,000,000 Moslems at a stroke? Of what values were the followers of Allah?

Abandoned by neighbouring countries, Israel is still a menacing power. Why? Because of US willingness to Americanize the Islamic nations. Always, somewhere, lurks the feeling that America is imposing conditions in part of the Arab world. Focus has fallen onthe Israeli-Palestinian conflict wher a US armed militia enables them to humiliate, destroy and kill their Palestinian adversaries at will. Officially all powerful countries condemn Israeli behaviour. At the same time sufferers get minimum help from the UN.

At 2 am on Wednesday, April 3rd, the Israeli Army cordoned off the Jenin refugee camp. Israeli forces broke through narrow alleyways with bulldozers and tanks, flattening blocks of houses and sometimes, according to witnesses, burying their inhabitants alive. Two days later a small group of reporters managed to enter the centre of Jenin city where the streets were utterly deserted and devastated. They saw a scene common now to many West Bank towns: smashed, broken electricity poles, buildings pocked by bullets or more seriously damaged by rockets. Palestinians claimed that atrocities took place; Israel still denies it. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross was barred from entering the camp to make a survey of the dead. Israel promised to allow the families of dead civilians to bury their remains in the Jenin cemetery. But the long delay in opening the camp cemented the impression that that Israel had something to hide. Official figures show that 54 Palestinians, including 7 women, 4 children and 6 men over the age of 55, were killed. Israel had closed the borders to international aid in March 2002 which means that medical supplies were and still are limited. Some disturding statistics have recently been published. Between 27th February and the end of June 2002, the Israeli army killed nearly 500 Palestinians. The great majority of those killing was in breech of human rights. Not to mention the innocent children killed. Here Israel excuses itself by shielding behind American’s own military behaviour. Effi Eitam, an ex-general and ultranationalist says: ”You (the United States) took your B-52s and bombed eveyrthing under the clouds of Afghanistan, You didn’t care about civilians (...) For weeks you didn’t allow the media to come in. And you needed time, seven months. We need another eight weeks.”

And here the USA has nothing to say because their offcial aims are the same: to disrupt future terrorism. That is at least what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is saying. But what he does is to bring havoc and destruction which could easily produce more terrosrism. His real aim is to cripple the PA and thus crush the instrument of collective Palestinian nationalism. Sharon is the first major Israeli politician to have suggested that there never be a need for a Palestinian state. His recent aim is to transfer a great number of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to neighbouring Jordan, which is supposed to be their substitute homeland. Called by Arabs ”the butcher from Beirut”, he definitely will not lead this conflict to a quick reconciliation. He is responsible for the mass murder in Kibija, where a retaliation campaign took place. In return for 3 Israelis, Sharon’s soldiers set fire to 45 houses, killing 69 people including women and children. How can such a cruel person negotiate peace?

Yasar Arafat, the Palestinian chairman, a man who personifies the fight for an independent state, was effectively imprisoned. How could he operate under house arrest, when there was no chance of communicating with the Palestinian militia? Taking into consideration what is mentioned above, we should not distance ourselves from the Israeli opinin that such a man, who was a terrorist for half his life, could not stand as a negotiator. Nonetheless, up till now he has not been given such a chance.

It is extremely hard to get Arafat and Sharon into the same room. And now that great powerful nation, the USA, has a range of options at its disposal. But what is wrong? Sharon had ignored American requests to call back his forces and the USA has no control over what is going on in the Middle East. Largely this is because the Jews are the real power behind the wealth of the world. It is the Jewish political lobby. They have influence in every possible financial, industrial, social and cultural aspect of US life. Jews occupy countless American managerial posts; they control the American banking system. If Bush resolutely went against Israel, the US economy could collapse. So there is no error in the Palestinian belief that the Bush administration is openly pro-Sharon. The United States finds itself in an increasingly uncomfortable and potentially dangerous position.

Currently all negotiations seem to be bound to fail. Both sides believe they are fighting an ”us-or-them” war of survival. Terrible suicide bombings take place and people believe in the causes they are fighting for. Both sides need to know exactly what they are being offered before they agree to compromise and the USA remains practically helpless. How much more blood has to be spilled to make them understand that violence leads nowher except to more violence? Will such commanders ot these two nations emerge who know how to unlock the disagreement between them and thus herald a new dawn inthe Middle East?

These and many more similar questions have no answer. 3 million refugees have been kept stateless, poor and angry for half a century, determined that one day they would return to the land from which they came.

Agata Grabowiecka

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