Every week, it seems, I hear a constant refrain: “(fill in the blank with Israel’s illegal actions) is (destroying/undermining/hindering) the peace process.” Though I scour the news every day, I’ve started to believe that maybe I was missing something. Is there really a peace process going on that I don’t know about?
I’m sure that I am not the only person who has this question, particularly after reading all of the Western accounts of Palestine these days. From US officials to influential journalists we Palestinians hear about just how “great” Palestine is these days, with a purportedly booming economy and transparent leadership. But then reality hits; just as it has all this week (and every week) in Palestine, as we continue to live under an unending occupation and racism while the world looks at economic indicators as signs of progress. So here is an (incomplete) run down of just some of Israel’s actions since January 1st – acts that cannot be “undone” by the opening of new café or chic restaurant in Ramallah:
• The Israeli army killed Jawaher Abu Rahmah of Bilin by firing tear gas at her during the weekly demonstrations in Bilin in protest of Israel’s illegal wall. Her brother, Bassem, was killed two years earlier when a tear gas canister hit him in the chest.
• The Israeli army killed 66-year old Omar Salim Qawasmi of Hebron after firing 13 bullets in his head. Israeli military officials later claimed that it was a case of “mistaken identity.”
• The Israeli army killed 25-year old Khaldoun Sammoudi of Al-Yamun.
• The Israeli army killed 21-year old Ahmad Maslami of Jenin after riddling him with bullets.
• The Israeli army kills 2 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the Israeli-defined “buffer zone”.
• The Israeli army demolishes part of the Shepherd Hotel to make way for the construction of a 20-unit, Israeli-only illegal colony. (More on this later).
The response by the international community is now part of the same “peace process” refrain. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton chimed: “[There is] no alternative to a negotiated deal” while US Secretary of State Clinton sings the demolition “undermines peace efforts to achieve the two state-solution.” Absent from the refrain is one word: occupation. Why? Because the “peace process” is not designed to address the occupation; it is designed to give us the semblance of forgetting it. Instead of focusing on real issues – demolitions, executions, land theft, Jewish-only roads and housing, deportations, imprisonment and so on – the peace process asks us to focus on the ethereal – borders, security regimes, trade agreements and so on. In the Clinton/Ashton world, there is no occupied or occupier; no right and no wrong; no legal or illegal; just a “peace process” that is “undermined” or “hindered.”